Notes on my social media fast

I turned on StayFocused last Thursday and set it for a week. I locked myself out of Twitter and Facebook.

Because so many people now message via Twitter and Facebook I did check via Chrome on my phone once a day. But I didn’t check the stream of messages at all.

Obviously a lot has happened in the news over the past week. Being off Twitter meant I found out about thinks a bit more slowly. But that’s OK.

I’m back on Twitter. But I am not going to reinstall it on my phone. I try and be accessible to people and respond to them…but over the years it has gotten too much. I get tagged in so many conversations. From now on I’m much more likely to ignore them.

There are still things Twitter is useful for. Things I want to say that are easier to say there. But most of the “conversations” are not worth it. Many of them are circle-jerks. In other cases a sincere person like Nicholas Christakis has to show almost Job-like patience with others who don’t play by rules of fairness and charity.

Facebook is a different case. I don’t use it to chatter with people. Rather, I post about my children or what I’m eating. I like baby pictures and see what’s happening in peoples’ lives who I know in some way. I missed it, but not that much. But I also now think it is far less toxic (in part because I’ve “trained” Facebook not to show me all the political arguments and such). I think this week has given me insight into why Facebook is so much more popular and valuable than Twitter.

On the balance when it comes to intellectual discourse, I think Twitter has made things worse.

5 thoughts on “Notes on my social media fast

  1. Your links will be missed! Strangely enough, in the past month I’ve gotten into audiobooks and found that the internet is lacking something. Maybe it’s too coarse of an overview or something

  2. Twitter is the Chicken McNuggets of “food for thought”.


    As far as I know, this is my coinage. I hereby claim Copyright. I’ve reached my zenith as a cultural producer!

  3. This is largely what I have always thought about these media. I’m glad that you plan to get more conservative with your twitter use, and hope to see you blog more often (please don’t interpret this as begging for posts).

    Now, if only we could get pseudoerasmus, JayMan, etc. off twitter…

  4. Razib —

    I don’t use these tools for lofty purposes, as you do, but I could never get into the idea of Twitter as a medium for two- (or more-)way communication. The format is too restricted, the discussions too public, and the users too spontaneous. That said, it’s great for things like subway delays, city road closures, quick updates from my kids’ school, that sort of stuff.

    Facebook proved to be an enormous time sink for me and I de-activated my account some months ago. Like you, my primary rationale was to keep up with old friends, but I got sick of seeing meaningless posts from the same people over and over again, and unlike you, I didn’t have the patience to “train” my feed.

    I missed it at first but got over it eventually. FYI it’s possible to de-activate your Facebook account (no visible profile, can’t be tagged, etc.) while still being able to use Facebook Messenger on mobile to contact (and be contacted by) existing “friends”.

  5. I find it interesting that you have decided that time sinks are to be avoided. I used to regularly participate on an economics website, but it became boring and repetitive with so many attempts to score political coup instead of understanding how the economy really works.

    The political commentary system is similarly compromised, with too much of the circle jerk, and too little willingness to change to make a better system of governance.

    Even much of the friend stuff gets boring, as people continue to post the same stuff. Life gets boring in stretches, yet the content machine demands to be fed. I see the same effect with LinkedIn, the constant demand for attention, with very little payback in terms of contacts or career advancement.

    Timesinks all.

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