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In which John discusses his year away from twitter, reddit, instagram, and facebook. Life's Library subscriptions are now available:

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Good morning Hank it’s Thursday, 

So about 11 months ago, I decided to take a year away from Twitter, Reddit, Instagram and Facebook. And today I wanna give you an update on how that’s gone and why I won’t be going back to those platforms until either they change or I do.

So this all started because my relationship with certain social internet platforms had become really unhealthy: like spending time on them always made me feel this weird mix of scared and angry and outraged- I guess you could call it like ‘Scanged’. And also, the social internet had come to occupy huge swaths of my attention; like I was spending 4 or 5 hours a day on my phone and hours more on my computer looking at social media and I felt like I was really struggling to choose where my attention goes so I decided to take a year off and see what, if anything, I would lose in the bargain.

And I have lost some things- there’s a lot I miss actually. But what I miss most is being able share and promote stuff I’m working on like the fundraising for our project with Partners in Health Sierra Leone is going amazingly but I also know there would be more donors if I was talking about it on Twitter and Instagram and more people would be buying Pizzamas shirts and etcetera.

So maybe I should go back and only use those platforms as promotional tools which I might do eventually but right now, I feel like I would just get sucked back into the feed and I have a long history of failing to effectively moderate my social media use and, indeed along, a long history of failing to moderate many other obsessions.

And the thing is, I like my life much more now- like, the average amount of time per day I spend on my phone now has fallen by more than 80%.

I’m getting more work done: this year I’ve written more words I’m proud of than any year since 2011 and I’ve hosted crash courses in European history and navigating digital information.

I also feel like I’m better informed than I was at this time last year, like, I miss the dizzying excitement of watching news stories unfold in real time online; but by reading my local news paper and getting national and international news from podcasts and news outlets like The Economist.

But by far the most important thing is that I am now less socially isolated, I spend much more time with friends and family which, especially at the beginning, was really hard and kind of stressful but it’s so fulfilling.

Because there hasn’t been a bright line between my life and my job for a long time, I had started to feel like I was living my job and jobbing my life and I don’t feel that way anymore.

So I’m not going back to Twitter or Reddit or Instagram or Facebook. Not because they’re evil or whatever but because, right now, they don’t work for me- I’m happier and more productive without them.

Now, I still do spend a lot of time on the internet: I spend way too much time writing emails, I read dumb google news stories with headlines like ‘This celebrity said something stupid and people are mad’ and I even sometimes lurk on Twitter and Reddit which I’ll probably continue to do and I watch a lot of YouTube, not all of it nourishing- which is okay I think, there is a place in this world for wondrously empty distraction. But to borrow a phrase from my friend Amy Krauss Rosenthall ‘I do think that I’ve gotten a little bit better at paying attention to what I pay attention to’ which brings me to the last big change.

This time last year, my attention was so fractured that I struggled to read a book for even like 10 or 15 minutes without wanting to pick up my phone or computer and it’s really in the last few months I felt my enjoyment of long form reading return but it’s wonderful. 

And a big part of that joy has been reading with the amazing community of our book club (Life’s Libary). We’ve just opened subscriptions for year two of Life’s library- in 2020 we’ll read another 9 books together beginning with Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower. You can either get a physical subscription which comes with a book, beautiful book plates and some other perks or a digital subscription or our new audiobook subscription. There’s also a podcast and Q&As with authors and a great community of readers at our Discord
  • channel. It’s just so wonderful and encouraging to read good books with nice people plus all our proceeds go to charity. You can learn more at 
Life’s Library Book link in the doobly-doo.

Hank, I will see you tomorrow for the end of Pizzamas.