Why I decided to -limit- my social presence on the internet, and why I think this will be good for the both of us

A few years ago something totally unexpected happened. It was at the end of the day and I was fully prepared to move behind my laptop at the home office. Instead I decided to do something else, not waste my evening on what became a daily routine; tweeting, liking posts on my LinkedIn, uploading fresh pictures on Instagram, answering Slack messages, scouring internet for anything interesting to read and learn.

Being away from my computer felt like something special. I started living regular life, spending my free time as any other guy would do, watching movies together with J. (girlfriend), playing with our dogs on the beach, going out with friends.

I could have spent time behind this blog as well, but I chose not to. I was able to get a clear head, think about how I used my computer, and phone, how I perhaps consumed and processed more information than I really wanted to, and what the long term effects of that do to a person.

In periods I can burn a lot of time tinkering with all kinds of hardware, Linux and open source software!! I’m that introvert perfectionist with a slight touch of OCD who gets a bit too obsessed about particular things and who can’t let anything go before he’s really done with it > In the past this behavior actually led to a few years of unhealthy multiplayer gaming (CS:GO), so it’s not something I take lightly.

In the back of my head I already knew I had to take counter-measures to prevent falling back in the same trap, and letting my mind go on the loose again.

So, first task, I started with disposing old hard-disks, floppy’s, zipdrives, network cables, a Pentium Pro desktop, even an old SPARCstation. All that awesome stuff you usually gather when working years in IT. Sometimes it was a painful activity because you feel bonded with objects that link to good memories from the past.

Anyways, this was a big step in de-cluttering my life and it has made some huge positive improvements on my productivity and what I call my hyper-focus.

I also realized that while my workflow had improved, I did things the younger me would never ever have approved.

As an example, one of those things was leaving an application open and letting it run in the background, even when I was not there. I know this sounds rather silly but closing an application when I don’t use it does help focus on what I’m doing. For that reason, I replaced the OS on two of my Lenovo workstations with vanilla Debian & I3 WM. (See guys? Told you this post was not exclusively about scoring points on LinuxPorn!)

The third step. I became picky about what channels to subscribe to, and made an agreement that at a certain time in the evening I’d stop, no matter how much my desire to keep hanging on (if I don’t I have to take her out to a fancy diner). After some time I found the everlasting craving for more was gone, and I truly enjoyed the nothingness, loved all that time I now had on my hands more than anything.

I eventually launched Newsboat, and closed it after a quick glance. Then fired up Vim and removed about 80% of the feeds. Most were other we(b)logs, a variety of tech and/or open source related projects and some news sites. The first was CNN International that posts —multiple times per day— about everything from movie trailers, science and tech, to politics. While this was pretty good at giving me the latest highlights it took more time than what it was worth to keep up with.

We both don’t like TV channels because of the irritating commercials filled with products we are never going to buy. Thus Netflix was the only agreeable option.

Last week I took the last step and told my customer(s) I would take 5 days off for studies, no matter what outcome. Yes, every unproductive day is money lost, but at the end those certifications are a long-term investment that will pay for itself.

Update d.d. 15/11/21: Bought a Garmin Fenix 6 Smartwatch and Aeku M5 phone after reading this blog post. Let’s see if they can replace my BlackBerry Android.

Something to think about. Since we have a limited quota of time in this world, why not rather spend that on things and people we find fun, that bring joy in our life and that keep us productive?

So. I hope you will understand and don’t feel offended if I can’t follow on social media; it’s nothing personal. It’s for the good of me, and hopefully you.