Followup to 30 day challenge: Media diet

At the beginning of August, I started a media diet, where I pledged not to visit a whole host of distracting and addictive websites. Being a parent to a 1-year old and having a demanding job mean that my time and attention are my most valuable possessions. These distractions were cutting into that time and giving me back very little in return.

The experiment went really well and I made it through the month without using facebook, twitter, reddit, hacker news, or my feed reader. The whole experience was really freeing, and I found myself spending more time on things I cared about. That time wasn't just shunted into work (though I did get a lot of work done). I also read a few books, caught up on some projects around the house, and spent more time just enjoying the company of others in the real world. I highly recommend it.

At the end of the month, I went back onto each site and did some evaluation. Despite having a few thousand unread items in my feed reader, it didn't take long to sort through them, because I realized that I didn't even care what I missed from many of the feeds. I've now unsubscribed from those, and the signal-to-noise ratio is much higher. Twitter was a similar story - dropping about a dozen feeds really helped, and it's now more of a useful tool for keeping up on interesting scientific papers and trends than it used to be. I can honestly say that I didn't miss facebook and reddit at all, and I plan to continue that hiatus.

So far, I haven't slipped too far back into old habits in September and October, but I will admit that the temptation is still there. It's just easier to open a new tab and look at some stupid memes than it is to start a new project - the activation energy will always be lower, and the quick hit of dopamine is an addictive thing. This is all about creating new habits, though, which takes time, and I feel like I'm still on the right track.

After giving this a shot, I can offer this advice: Try cutting out some of the chaff from your daily internet routine. You won't regret it.


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