why I’m on a social media detox

My brother once likened social media addiction to cigarette addiction. You check and recheck (or smoke and re-smoke) to fill lulls in time. You don’t really care about what you’re seeing. It’s a mindlessly compulsive act. It’s just something to do. And I do a lot of it.

Brains resetting themselves
Last week, I heard Nicholas Carr speak on Wiretap about how adaptable human brains are. In the digital age, they’ve modified themselves to taking in small snippets of information quickly (duh). This isn’t necessarily an evil thing. It just means that, overall, it makes it tough for us to then turn around and concentrate for long periods of time or to learn deeply about one specific thing. We’re always itchy for the next amusement or nugget of information. The result being that we have knowledge but not understanding.

After hearing Carr, I decided that I needed to do a social media detox. I deleted the Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram—oh, sweet, sweet Instagram—apps on my iPhone and iPad. I put myself on lockdown.

That was 6 days ago. While I won’t say I’m totally reformed, I do find myself feeling less…twitchy….as I go about my day. There’s no longer the nagging thought at the that, OH GOD, IT’S BEEN 5 MINUTES—BETTER CHECK!!! A sense of slight mental clarity has bore through, mainly because there’s less of a strain on my attention span.

Oh, god, life is meaningless and I’m just a speck
Mainly, I’ve realized how insubstantial my digital life actually is. Updates still come pretty furiously via Google Reader (I’ve allowed myself that), but I rarely get any emails. People obviously aren’t aching to peek into my life. I’ve actually always known this, but social media gives one a false, surface-level sense of it being otherwise. Additionally, I’ve also realized that I don’t really care all that much about knowing what others are up to on micro timescales.

For the longish haul?
Not sure how much longer I’ll keep this up. Maybe another day or two. Or maybe I’ll give it a while an see if my brain resets itself to the extent that I can finally finish V. And The Brothers Karamazov, too. And other stuff I’ve been too fragmented to get through for the last decade or whatever.

Um, actually, I fibbed. I’m going to fire up Twitter/FB as soon as I post this, to share the link (I’m fully  aware that I’m contradicting much of what I’ve said above). Then I’ll continue my detox. I swear!


– @michaelseidel

17. April 2012 by Michael Seidel
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