Binge and Purge: My Social Media Diet is Gross

A few days ago I woke up and against my own judgement decided to check my email before exercise. Unsurprisingly, with a world news email that I get every morning, there was something that got me angry and instantly shot up my already not great blood pressure.

I finally made a decision that had been percolating in my mind for a while. My internet consumption had to change, and it had to change fast. A few hours later I had some coffee and was settled in to get to work.

Starting My Media Consumption Cleanup

I disabled chat on Facebook, as well as audio and video calls. Half of my chats consist of “send this to my business email” coming from all non-connections, and all of my contacts on Facebook have a dozen other ways that they can reach me.

I disabled the ability for Twitter to post on my behalf to Facebook. This was one of the first integrations that I set up, and is basically the only reason that I’ve been active on Facebook at all besides managing groups and pages for the past several years. Gone now are the “I have no idea what you post” comments from folks IRL that remind me that I’ve written for a different platform and audience, and the message is reaching only the people that I have in mind when I write in the first place.

Speaking of Twitter, I didn’t have to do much here, as I keep my feed fairly curated as is, seeing as it’s the main place I communicate with others outside of Slack. Last month I implemented Wil Wheaton’s block list, which has been helpful. It cleans up a few of the folks that I wouldn’t want to interact with, though if they are quoted by others I see the “tweet unavailable” grey box, which is a bit annoying.

Twitter finally announced a feature that doesn’t display folks that you have blocked or muted in searches and trends, which is long overdue. Half of the stuff that makes me angry online comes from Twitter trends, which I should avoid clicking on but always feel the need to be informed with. I need to use a client like Tweetdeck that doesn’t display these, but it’s usually easiest (probably too easy) for me to open a new browser tab, click the t key, then click enter. This is one habit that I’ll have to work on a bit better.

Finally, I went into my unroll.me accounts (this is free and totally worth paying for if it wasn’t), and unsubscribed from a lot of emails. While I did an initial cleanup when I created the accounts, at the time I was thinking of the savings that come with only having to review a daily email of non-essentials. Now I’m prioritizing making that daily email one that has less strife (sorry Mother Jones and Change.org, I still donate!), and fewer subscriptions that I don’t use anymore. Now that daily email feels more essential and relevant, and my reading time has cut in half, with the hope that it will be less painful as well.

FOMO, Failure of Mastering Objectives

I suffer fairly regularly from FOMO, or that “fear of missing out” that tech folks and us ungrateful millenials are all about these days. The basic steps are this: I remind myself of a project that sounds interesting, I get re-pumped to do it, I remind myself that I have other things to do first, and I get deflated when I think of how far behind I’ll fall by not doing it.

Sometimes I have an idea and someone else takes it up, and I think that I could have done it first, and now I can’t. That’s ok. One, I have to remind myself that those that come first rarely go as far as those that come after them. Two, I should be grateful that someone else was able to remove something from my want-to-do list.

Loss Aversion is another problem that I regularly deal with. I’ll spend more time than probably necessary considering the ways that projects can go wrong and planning for them, rather than getting anything done. The same applies to potential projects: can I give up an opportunity just because I’ve talked about it for five years and not made any headway on it?

It’s a great idea to consider potential negatives and mitigate them where possible, but when is this going to far? When can I finally free myself from the self-appointed responsibility of needing to do all of the things, and ending up doing some or none of the things instead?

Do You Have A Solution?

This is still very much a work in progress for me. I have only scratched the surface of what I can do to clean up my media consumption. I’ve got a few more things planned for the next week or so, mainly in offloading ideas that I’m just not going to do.

Do you have any tips on how to remove the stresses of feeling like you’re missing out when you choose not to do a project or start something new? I’m not going to eliminate this overnight, but I’m taking small steps now.

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