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In which John discusses the problems with his Internet, and what he intends to do about it. Pizzamas stuff:

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Good morning Hank, it's Tuesday. 

So my internet isn't working. I don't mean that like, the wireless in this house is unreliable; I mean, I wish it were more unreliable because I don't like the way I'm using the internet - or more to the point, I don't like the way the internet is using me.

Wait, hold on - I have to go vote!

Aaand done! I even got a sticker! Okay, back to the house.

Right, so - I spend something like 20 hours a week on Facebook/Reddit/Instagram/Twitter, and most of that time I'm scrolling, swiping, clicking, scanning, skimming.

My attention has become extremely fractured, and I feel this constant pull toward checking, refreshing and refreshing as if something truly fresh is just over the horizon. I also don't like the way passively ingesting information on the internet makes me feel, but on the other hand, I can't stop doing it.

Hank, you said on Twitter a few days ago that you love Coca-Cola but wish it didn't exist, and... that's how I feel about Twitter. Like I really believe that my attention is all I have, and I'm very uncomfortable with the way that social internet companies have hacked my brain to capture that attention and monetize it.

None of which is to say that Facebook/Reddit/Instagram/Twitter are like, capital-b bad or whatever, I just think my brain is unusually susceptible to being hacked. Not least because I have a mental health disorder that predisposes me toward repetitive checking and circular thought.

In fact I think lots of people are able to use Facebook/Reddit/Instagram/Twitter in ways that are productive and fulfilling, and that those platforms connect us to each other and allow more people to have a voice in public discourse.

Also, for whatever reason, I don't have a terrible relationship with other social media platforms, like here on YouTube for instance, I'm able to be fairly intentional about what I watch, and participate in the community in ways that make me happy.

So yeah, I'm not trying to say that your internet isn't working, or that the internet isn't working - only that my internet isn't working.

I have two problems. First, I don't have, like, the willpower to resist the allure of Facebook/Reddit/Instagram/Twitter. And secondly, the corporations that run the social internet are not incentivized to provide me with information that is accurate or helpful; they are incentivized to provide me with information that will hold my attention, and keep me on their platform while I ingest advertising.

And in my case, the information that holds my attention best is that which shocks and/or appalls and/or fascinates me. Like, a horrifying story breaks, and I keep refreshing and refreshing, looking for new facts, but facts take time to establish, and I can't wait. So instead, I skim through speculation and guesswork and hot takes, all of which fills me without nourishing me.

The social internet companies are happy, because they've received and monetized many hours of my attention, but I don't think the world is better. And more to the point, I don't think my life is better.

Longtime viewers of Vlogbrothers will know that this is something I've struggled with for a while. I started my podcast The Anthropocene Reviewed in an attempt to pay more sustained and careful attention. I post much less frequently than I used to on Facebook/Reddit/Instagram/Twitter. But I still spend huge swaths of time there, and all my attempts to go on an information diet or dumb down my phone have failed.

So, I'm going to take a year off. I'm going to block Facebook/Reddit/Instagram/Twitter from my web browsers, and I'm going to find a way to truly dumb down my phone so I literally cannot access these platforms that are occupying so much of my attention.

And perhaps most radically, I'm going to get my news from something called newspapers!

And during this year, I'm not going to ask someone to post on my behalf. I just want to see how it feels not to be in those places.

I'm going to start next month when the Project for Awesome ends, but here on YouTube, things will be pretty much the same - still a Vlogbrothers video every week. (I'm actually hosting more Crash Course next year, which will be fun.)

So I'll still be around, in fact hopefully with my attention less fractured, I'll be more present in the places that matter the most to me. I'm so fortunate that this community continues to be a really lovely and fulfilling place for me to hang out, and I hope you feel the same way.

So yeah, I'll be here. I just, you know, won't be in some of the other places. I'd be interested to hear from any of you who've tried a version of this or if you have any tips for me.

I look forward, as always, to continuing the conversation in comments.

Hank - don't forget to be a ... voter! I'll see you tomorrow.