I’m a week into an exercise in limiting my internet access. Here’s what has happened so far.
- Facebook: I haven’t missed it.
- Twitter: It may sound funny, but I came to realize that I mainly use Twitter as a bookmarking service. Weird, I know.
- Reddit: For better or worse, Reddit is my go-to source for information about the world. I have allowed myself to visit it once or twice a day.
- Hacker News: I have checked it 2 or 3 times in the past week.
By the second day I noticed that I tend to fill “intermission time” (walking from one place to another, standing in the elevator, etc.) by staring at my phone, and more specifically, skimming through my Twitter and Facebook feeds. This is almost an unconscious act on my part; I rarely remember much when flipping through updates.
Before this experiment, I probably checked Twitter about 50-100 times a day. If I had the web interface open in my browser tab, I would constantly switch over it to see if there were any new updates, and if so, click to see them. It would bother me if I saw the “X new tweets” message and didn’t click it to see what they were. Facebook had this same effect on me, but I visited it less often.
Twitter, and to a lesser extent, Facebook, acted like a constant stream of new, seemingly important bits of data to stimulate my mind and make me feel like I gained something from the experience.
By stopping myself from visiting these sites, this feeling has, for the most part, gone away. I guess that’s good.