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Digital detox reflections/an update on this space

An update

So, as I mentioned in this post, I tried a “digital detox” for about 30 days. Overall, I’d say it was a worthwhile experience, one with some surprising outcomes.

A bit of housekeeping regarding this space — I gained a newfound appreciation for simplicity during that time. In that spirit, I decided to import all of my “longform” blog posts here and moved the domain name for robertsapunarich.com to point to here, and retire my Github Pages site. So, if you’re subscribed to robertsapunarich.micro.blog, go ahead and update your subscription to the feed here (those of you who follow me in the Micro.blog app may have missed a post from the other day due to the domain name change).

Manton’s done a great job with Micro.blog, and its simplicity works for my purposes. I have an about page, and links to writing elsewhere. In a roundabout way, the clarification of values that came from the detox led to this decision — something I’ll discuss in a bit.

Why

I don’t use any social media at all. I don’t need to belabor the reasons why — others have already done that work better than I ever have.

Nonetheless, we are all victims of the global lobotomy to some degree, and I’m no exception. I think it’s reasonable to conclude that the machine has become so totalizing in its effects that its influence can be felt even if you don’t explicitly opt in to it. Less opaquely, I would argue that the feedback mechanisms of The Bird App, et. al., have in various ways shaped journalism, literature, language, and human behavior so that it’s optimized for consumption and engagement. The fact that I regularly hear the term “content” unreflectively deployed in everday conversation is but one example of what I’m talking about.

But I would also argue that distraction and self-justification are innate human desires that the Bay Area overlords are simply exploiting and cultivating, not creating. So, despite my preference for RSS and newsletters, they still act as means for me to pursue my inveterate need to sate those desires. For me, knowledge has always been something I used to define, or defend myself.

So it came about that sometime mid-August of this year, I found myself unable to focus, anxious, depressed, cranky, cynical, and bitter. I don’t remember the exact impetus, but I realized that I needed to change some things.

The detox

Cal Newport’s book helpfully outlines instructions for a digital detox, especially some strategies for those whose work requires they be chained to certain technologies. While he assumes readers are currently using social media, his advice is still applicable for those who don’t.

Basically, my rules were:

Additionally, I used Freedom to create blocklists and all day sessions to create some friction. Since I’m a Firefox user, Impulse Blocker also augmented the friction nicely.

Excessive? Maybe, but so were my digital habits.

Findings

Outcomes

Let me be clear — I didn’t become hyperfocused, found a new company, or master the piano as time went on. If anything, I found myself becoming contented with limits. But, I would say the outcomes have been surprising and still beneficial.

I’m unsure of what all the above means, and I don’t think that I’m immune to picking up old habits again. But, I’m thankful for the experience and the things I’ve learned from it. I highly recommend everyone do this. You might be surprised what you learn.

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