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How I Blocked Myself From Twitter For 3 Days

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[1] 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.

Blocking Twitter through hosts file

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.

The Result

Ruud snackingWhat I noticed almost right away was the number of times I wanted to media-snack "just in between".

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.

Vacation

camping

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.

  1. Reflections on 2009 and Adjusting Your Information Flow part one & part two []

7 Responses to “How I Blocked Myself From Twitter For 3 Days”

  1. Anton Says:

    I so agree!

    Everyone develops ‘just-one-minute’ routines — many of them unnecessary and often counter-productive.

    But for those of us who live and work online, with no boss to look over our shoulders, it’s especially easy to follow multiple rabbit trails that end up eating time and energy.

    I have more observations, but I promised myself to only use one minute for this.

    Besides, I’ve got to brew some coffee!

  2. Rob Chant Says:

    I could go on, and on, and on about the whole issue of distraction and information addiction. But for now, suffice to say what Ghandi said, “There is more to life than increasing its speed.” Well done for taking a break, and seeing the benefit!

  3. Yura Says:

    Yeah, isn’t it related to information overload, fueled by our thirst for more information?

    When I cut my RSS-reading and blog-reading time by only searching and reading what solves *only my current problems*, it helped me work more effectively a lot. But I switched to Twitter and Twitter-surfing, instead.

    I guess it’s the new-era version of “Stop watching the TV all day and go play outside” thing. I really should practice it more.

  4. Ruud Says:

    I can’t put my finger on it (yet) but there’s a paralyzing quality to this kind of exposure. It can easily move past “inspire” into watching what other people did.

    This was the 2nd weekend I stayed off and it’s been good. Planning to do explore the subject a bit more soon too.

  5. Jon Chui Says:

    Thanks for the post Ruud! It’s nice to hear other people share similar thoughts of this information-overloaded culture. I love information, technology & “social media” (shudder at overusing the term though) and really feel twitter can be quite useful!

    I tend to feel a sense of “peer pressure” reminiscent of my childhood days to “fit in”, “look cool”, literally “follow the right people”, and “say the right things”, and wonder if you deal with any of that?

    I also get such a headache from Twitter sometimes just because it’s hard to keep up. My friend introduced me to “UnladenFollow.com” which helps to recommend people you should unfollow.

    cheers!

  6. Ruud Says:

    I recognize what you’re describing, Jon. I try my best to stay true and real to myself; unplugging and distancing yourself form a community can help with that.

  7. Wayne Says:

    Just say NO to all social media services. Big time wasters.

    Unless of course you’re: looking for work, trying to market a product/service, keeping in touch with family & friends, planning events, stuck in traffic or long queue with a Blackberry, etc.

    Ok, never-mind … bad idea.

    W.

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