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Why I'm Quitting Social Media (tapenoisediary.com)
46 points by JayCruz on July 16, 2009 | hide | past | web | favorite | 30 comments

This is a classic "quitting an addiction" post. I've seen and heard this many times, from people playing wow to smokers to coffee drinkers.

If you have to announce how and why you are quitting, then you probably are doing it too much.

http://www.newsweek.com/id/183180 here's a newsweek "I'm quitting FB" article

and I'm certain I've seen one on slate.com

Is Facebook really so all consuming for these people who have to quit it publicly?

Personally I love FB. It's like auto-pilot for my social life. It reminds me about the birthdays about the people I only vaguely care about, leave them a one-line message on their wall and that's it until next year.

All the people who are really in my life I rarely interact with on FB but it's great for making lots of people think that lots of people care about them.

What's not to like?

it's great for making lots of people think that lots of people care about them

followed by

What's not to like?

Dude, I think you answered your own question: superficial relationships masquerading as genuine ones - you know, that does bother some people.

But these are superficial relationships replacing non-relationships, not replacing genuine ones.

Again, not everybody thinks the same. It is possible to prefer a non-relationship to a superficial relationship. Some people value authenticity for its own sake.

I'm not trying to convince anyone to change their mind, I just want to explain why the appeal of the social media is not universal (not that it has to be of course). For example there are some people I would call "intentional introverts" who quite genuinely would prefer not to have a happy birthday greeting from someone they are not close to. Others obviously are delighted by the same thing. It takes all kinds to make the world, etc etc.

"It reminds me about the birthdays about the people I only vaguely care about, leave them a one-line message on their wall and that's it until next year."

you could easily automate that :)

Facebook is wonderful - but I use it with only 23 people and disable Highlights, so I only see what I want to see.

What I love about Facebook is that if you want to use Facebook "responsibly", you can, and when you do Facebook doesn't nag you to be more supersocial or anything. Ditto Twitter, actually, though I have no need for Twitter myself. It gives you control.

Compare that to other sites - Tumblr comes to mind since it was mentioned in this article - that attempt to force users into contributing more. I've even heard some sites show a leaderboard of their "Top" users, and inherently pressure their users to post things that the largest amount of people will agree with.

Yeah, that's the joke.


I got my fb account disabled for putting the eternalmoonwalk.com link during the CNN Live.com/fb coverage of the MJ memorial and I didn't realize how peaceful my life became when I had no fb account - and then the phone calls, IMs, SMS, emails came in, looking for me (people thought something bad happened to me when I got dis-faceboked :P

True, but there is a seed of truth here in how social media has upped the engagement factor so much that it's easy for it to become a time sink with the user not even realizing it. I think society needs another 10 years to absorb the implications of social media and how to use it effectively (and for the filters to get better).

No one's denying the addiction.

However, I'm sure nicotine and caffeine (not to mention wow) are even worse for most people.

It's a combination of the stimulus and each individual's reaction to it. I'm sure that the vast, vast majority of people have no problems releasing themselves from social media.

I found my way of doing it was simply to block reddit, digg, and slashdot from my /etc/hosts. Otherwise I'd just go back if I was bored ("oh, I have nothing better to do for the next 10 minutes anyways...")

My life has improved immeasurably.

It also tends to work better than not telling anybody about it at all.

If you tell people that you are quitting something, there is a social pressure on you to follow through on your promise. Your friends and family might also be willing to help you achieve your goal, which can be encouraging and push you that much further.

Well worth it, if you ask me. Best of luck to the author.

So you blogged about it and posted it on a site that votes content

I respect him for that. He's trying to express his beliefs to people he thinks might benefit from it. That's a noble thing to do.

Hell, that's half of why I'm a user on this site. I don't think that time spent encouraging people not to waste so much time online is necessarily a bad thing.

Maybe he's trying to make a commitment he will be held to.

Like mr. "I can write stackoverflow in a weekend"?

Also, haven't there been a dozen articles posted here about how publicly stating your intent hinders your ability to achieve it? It was in reference to startups, but it's the same psychology at work I imagine.

Maybe saying you're going to do something is different from saying you're not going to do something. One is easier to verify than the other.

I've been thinking about doing something like this for weeks.

It seems like at the start of my day I'll log onto Hacker News and read 5 or 6 interesting articles. However, without even trying, by the end of the day, all the links will be grey instead of black. I'll end up clicking on every link, even the links I really don't give a shit about. It's a time sink - it really is like surfing channels without feeling as guilty about it.

However, I wouldn't want to quit, I'd really want to limit myself. I'm not sure how to approach that though. Maybe an hour a day or reading random articles? How can I count that? Maybe a firefox extension.

But then how do I seperate searching for random articles from searching for solutions to problems when I'm coding or doing real work? How do I seperate those two things? I think part of what makes the internet so easy to kill time on is that it blurs the distinction.

If anyone can come up with a good plan or strategy to prevent time and life from being sucked away by the dark corners and alleys of the internet, while still allowing me to use it for interesting and productive work, please let me know. I think it would be helpful for all of us.

Have you discovered the 'noprocast' setting yet ? It's in your profile.

I just enabled that.

It is utterly PATHETIC that I need to limit myself so. However .. humans are weak. You have to trick yourself.

I was thinking of writing a daemon to rewrite HN's IP before I found out about noprocrast ... good feature.

I am very guilty of this myself.

A bit of a story, not sure if it is to my advantage but with all the honesty going around here (see darkxanthos) I might as well.

I'm stuck in one of the worst inspirational gaps I've been in for a long long time, and I'm trying to find the 'holy grail', a self-regulating community.

I realize that HN is to some extent set up to achieve exactly that, but given the number of people complaining about the neigbourhood going to pot it seems that there is some room for improvement.

So I find myself reading HN more than I probably should, but I hope it will jolt me out of my 'writers block' into a more productive phase.

Whatever the outcome I certainly learn a lot from hanging out here!

noprocast is great, only problem is I usually open about 40-60 tabs at the start of the day... can still easily waste 2-3 hours. Some self-control is badly needed.

"illusion of an audience"

What about those who use this illusion to drive traffic to their website or front door? Just because you use Twitter for useless chatter doesn't mean everyone else does. Or am I missing the point of the article?

If you spend x hours Tweeting every week and can track it all the way to measurable 'results', you can still get a sense of accomplishment that the author seems to be searching for.

Then you're not really using "social media" - you're exploiting the patterns in a service for your own goal. Not that there's anything wrong with this - but you are by definition not participating in "social media" in this case.

Participating means you're using it for useless chatter.

It's the same as IM. I use IM at work for work, and it's a lot less inane than the regular IM I use with my friends.

I'm not saying there are none, but what 'results' can you achieve from tweeting (that aren't achievable more efficiently elsewhere)?

Well I'm saying there are none! Twitter is just a centralised blogging service with a gimmick.

I tend to agree with the exception of watching TV. Watching TV is even worse than wasting time on the Web. Here you are just a passive consumer while on the Web you at least take part in communication.

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