I'm a bit hesitant to say this but I blocked myself from Twitter and other (social) media snacking for 3 days – and I liked it.
Inspired by a couple of posts by Bruce Keener regarding reduction of unnecessary information inputs and a short email back-and-forth with him which mentioned the value of reducing Twitter time as well, I went into my 3-day weekend by editing my hosts file and pointing the domain twitter.com to my own computer.
Other computers in the house remained able to access the domain and at one point I did lapse, snacking on some non-essential RSS stories and using the Share on Twitter ability of my6sense's interface to post a number of them to Twitter.
Similar to "I'm just checking my email", I noticed a desire to detour to especially Twitter just before wanting to do something on the computer.
Not able to go there certainly left a feeling of a loss of destination, a feeling of "OK… so now what?" akin to the one experienced when your Internet connection or – worse — the electricity goes down.
That did force my thinking in other directions. Longer, more focused.
It definitely was calmer inside. In an odd way the weekend had more structure to it, felt less hectic. Less scattered.
The last time I felt calm and relaxed like that was during my two vacations last year. When I was camping for example. Thinking, eating, making coffee, providing, doing some reading.
Think about it. When left to your own accord, when you have all the time in the world; what do we do?
We expose ourselves to less inputs each of which provides less input, the effect of which is that we have longgggg stretches of time to enjoy and just … be.
What's Going On?
There's something addictive with social media; the rapid stimulus, rapid feedback pattern makes it so.
Whether it is the "check in, post, reply, wait for reply – repeat" of Twitter (or Facebook, a forum, Usenet, email, etc.) or the flicking through stories until something interesting is always sure to catch your eyes – it is self-reinforcing behavior.
In a way it reminds me of those late night cable TV evenings. Remember? Flicking through the channels until somehow you find yourself watching an infomercial or a documentary on the white shark. It's not necessarily bad – but it's not what you want to be doing with your life either.