This is the part that I came to criticize as well. To me, it doesn't sound like letting go at all; it sounds like holding on to a grudge.
I excommunicated a family member from my life a while ago. I thought I was protecting myself and my family, but I was really just prolonging my own pain. I have since forgiven him and cautiously started letting him back into my life in limited ways. To me, that's an example of really letting go.
Congratulations on making progress on a relationship that works for you. I'd like to point out, though, that for many with abusive or dysfunctional relationships with a family member, stopping contact is the letting go.
That isn't to say I don't have close friends who do add value to my life, those are the people who are worth spending time on. I don't think its about being a hermit, its about being more selective.
I always try to help people when they ask me for help, even if it has near zero value for me (like helping out relatives with PC trouble). Yes it wastes my time, but at least i could do something good for someone else.
There's a great skit on Inside Amy Schumer that describes these people amazingly. Amy and a date are at a sandwich shop near Ground Zero in Manhattan, and her date makes conversation by talking about his experience on 9/11. Amy, however, is completely disinterested and keeps derailing the conversation because she becomes obsessive about whether or not she should ask the employees to put mayo on her sandwich, then further disrupts the conversation by yelling to the employees and throwing a fit when they end up forgetting to put mayo on the sandwich. 
I feel like we all have these people in our lives that we stay close to out of guilt, politeness, etc. My mom calls them vampires; they're people who'll cling to you and suck the energy right out of you.
I have a wife and kids, and while I will often go out of my way to go help folks, I'm limited in what I can do... so while I don't mind helping my buddy when his car needs a jump, I have gotten a lot more willing to just not do things like that, especially for folks who have demonstrated that they are selfish actors. I am not down to "one strike and you're out" yet, but at the same time, I have started to feel the pain of thinking "damn, I could be hanging out with my kids instead of taking this moron to get his tire patched."
Neither of those things is especially productive, but we all make choices, and it is healthy to consider alternatives to what we usually do.
I read it as a semi-aspirational piece, something not realisitically achievable but a target.
This was my exact reaction. Instead of using 500 words to describe how he's shutting people out and cutting out the distractions, he could have just said, "I'm just taking the easy road from now on."
Without challenges and push back on your ideas, what keeps you grounded in reality? If I took his advice it would be like living in my own self imposed world of rainbows and unicorns.
We can all escape reality in your own little ways, but people should tread lightly when trying to avoid it altogether.
Is this the correct place to blather on about this? Go have coffee with a friend.
I would say you gain less than nothing by following breaking news...you lose time and attention obviously...but for the most part, you also fill your mind with what is the very definition of information junk...stuff that, at best, is "the first draft of history", and at worst, is just the kind of nervous blather people make when they're anxious and waiting for resolution.
If there was a way to put a "Show me nothing newer than a week ago" filter on the Internet, I'd probably turn it on by default.
I moved on to other sources, looking for the least bias, the most facts, the picking of stories that actually mattered (to me); eventually I realised that I'd never find what I was looking for: Every source became painful to read, watch or listen to.
So I've given up, for now. If there happens to be news in front of me, I won't avoid it; It's just that I don't actively seek it or subscribe to it.
Maybe I'll become a news consumer again in the future.
Wading through comments is hard work. But a little feedback and opinion from others is good. I only wish it was a genuine sample. My local newspaper's online edition is full of the same commentators who can't help but comment on everything posted, with their same negative replies and opinions/agendas. It can make you feel a little ill; you can start to believe that many people do hold those views. But, for all I know it's the same girl with ten sock puppet accounts.
A little real life interaction with others can be quite reassuring and calming, even if you may end up discussing trivialities.
I do find the radio offers a nice condensed more easily consumable news bulletin.
People say I'm weird when I say I don't follow, nor care to follow the mainstream news. It seems hard for them to understand that I gain nothing from "keeping up to date with current events".
It's all just so much pain and misery, and I can't speak for anyone else, but my life is better without it. I prefer to seek out my own news, pertaining to things I like or am interested in. Hacker News (the irony of the name is not lost on me), for example, is very relevant to most of my interests.
News has been redefined as journalistic agitprop to gain pageviews of people in the right attitude to sell them an advertising message. I have very little interest in that.
On the other hand I like astrobites, and some of the arxiv RSS feeds, and others along those lines. They are news in some definitions, but definitely not news in the "news industry" definition.
Its like the difference between getting your weather news report from weather.gov or from the weather channel on cable.
None of us are in Matt's situation. Stop projecting your moral compass, fears, and/or insecurities on him.
If it works, I envy his ability to cut out noise from the signal.
There's nothing normal about ingesting loads of human opinions on the most trivial facts several times a day.
I realized this recently while pondering "The Wisdom of the Crowd/Cloud":
Using a (inter)net to fish out all the wisdom of the crowd mainly brings all the most common opinions up to the level of common sense. It's only additive to that niveau; it doesn't extend to brilliance. The wonderful human collaborations, like GNU/Linux? Those are created by a concentrated coterie, just as most other impressive creations. Surely, the web has catalyzed them, but they were strong anyway, not the result of amplified ignorance. Expecting a shotgun approach to advance beyond common sense means using a additional filter to except those ideas which do not rise to the level of common sense, and therefore, is more work.
I'm sure humans, pre-media, exchanged numerous opinions about things for much of their days and evenings, but they weren't work. Work was toil, solitary endeavors, and collaboration with mostly familiar people and a few strangers (imagine a marketplace with travelers). Now, with "social media," opinions have become work, and as you say, exhausting.
There is no "wisdom" of the crowd/cloud. There's only the collective consensus which is, by definition, mediocre. True progress requires unconventional thinking and slightly obsessive qualities which are often rejected. Additionally, the burden of the work itself is extremely unevenly distributed. (A lot of my OSS work seems more like people requesting features rather than actually, you know, implementing them for themselves and submitting a pull.)
Another way to phrase this is: show me one great thing the collective crowd has created. Just one! We have thousands of examples of brilliant individuals, who, working alone for long (and often seemingly fruitless) hours produce incredible works of engineering, art, mathematics, etc.
These opinions are slightly taboo; as they cast doubt on the value of our 'connections.'
> It’s a tall order; there’s no question about that. But I really need to do this, and I think you do, too.
You've turned all that off then focused on writing a piece about turning things off - so another outlet appeared almost instantly.
Embrace it - there is probably a reason you are not ready to do the thing you are running away from - you've probably not finished figuring it all out.
The time spent writing that would have likely been better deployed meditating or walking.
Shedding the unimportant is actually a really good idea, but I think OP has taken it too far here by a mile.
I realize the benefit of my position, I can go heads down and be productive for sustained periods of time at the drop of a hat. But there is a downside as well. People who are not up on things or who don't interject themselves into the Conversation may find themselves on the outside looking in and are terribly inefficient at getting involved when they want or need to.
Like most other things, I suppose, it's about finding a balance. My 'balance' probably lies on the 'hermit' end of the spectrum, but I still find that social engagements are essential in the long run.
While it's possible that some are 'true' hermits or 'true' socialites, I doubt it.
While his idea of being "creative" (as a writer & performer) is perhaps different than mine (as a programmer), I still find his advice helpful in giving myself space for creativity. Sure, some days it's best for me to just buckle down on serious work and crank things out (the "closed" mode, as it were). But my best work comes from the days when I don't feel the need to punish myself for making mistakes or for letting my mind wander.
Being in the "open" mode does require freedom from distraction, but it also requires breaks and must be very clearly time-boxed in order to succeed. I'd be afraid that, in attempting to "let go" of distraction and procrastination permanently, I'd be fating myself to a life in the "closed" mode, where nothing is more important than my productivity and everything (even boredom) has the potential to get in its way.
Too much social interaction can overload me with many extra thoughts and ideas that tend to mish-mash together in my brain and become nothing but flights of fancy.
On the other hand, too much solitude has a detrimental effect on my focus. Not only do I start to feel a bit down, but I find that without that social outlet I will concentrate too much on details that may not even be relevant to my current task (or even to the project as a whole).
Given a good (reasonable) dose of social interaction, I find my focus gets into a groove and tasks are just easier to complete, regardless of possible interruption by colleagues.
Everyone must find their own balance. I suspect that Matt and I sit on opposite sides of this particular range, or are at least a fair distance apart.
This just sounds so ridiculously absurd it is hard to take seriously.
Funny observation, but it's true...plus...if it's not an I it's a T, except for the last one.