I’m on day 4 of my Facebook Fast. I clicked into my page briefly to grab a bit of info I needed for a job, and said Happy Birthday on a friend’s wall (an actual meat-space person I knew.) but essentially, it’s been 4 days. I’ve gone this long before on vacation. But never without something to distract me.
I did not think it would be this hard; that it would be this bad.
Yesterday, all day, my head itched as if I was infested with lice. That ended with the heart-pounding panic attack that kept me up half the night.
Yeah. Seriously. I’m jonesing.
But reading Cal Newport’s Deep Work, I felt like I had to give it a shot. This social media fast part of his prescription for leveling up in your chosen field. Take a month off. See who notices. See what you miss. See what you gain.
And do your own math on what FB is really worth to you.
The sugenius in me, the utopian reader of Haykim Bey’s TAZ (Temporary Autonomous Zone) Balk’s at some of Newport’s worldview.
Cal’s… a square.
In his world there is a sharp bright line, between work and play, between on-task, and off task, between that which creates value—which he seems to think is well-identified by monetary reward—and that which is trivial, shallow, unimportant.
His books are based on studying the productive rich and famous, and when he discovers the occasional billionaire who doesn’t pursue a fastidious mental hygiene, he makes excuses for them.
Surely, they create value. To be rich is to be smart.
But Newport zeroes in like a kamikaze on the social media products of many billionaires which are designed to vacuum up every scrap of our time and attention. To grab us and hold us and never let us go, to suck us away from meat space, from work, from family, to make every other thing in our lives an interruption of the primary task.
In the same way food scientists craft junk-food to be insanely delicious, converting industrial farming surplus into large scale obesity and diabetes for profit, FB and YouTube and Twitter colonize your mind; skinning the infoverse with a bubbling froth of meta-tags and pointers and chatter which harvests value, without of course, investing so much as a penny in the ‘content’ bubbling under that skin.
(Actually, YouTube pays its content authors something; it is probably the least evil of these services. Thanks OGoogle.)
For the rest of these guys, ever and for always, content is free to those that own the biggest network.
Having a lovable, genius square like Newport shine his rational light on my social media habit was roughly the equivalent of waking up to discover I’d sold my children to pedophiles for drug money.
TL: DR, except you just did:
- FB is not your friend.
- Youtube is not your friend.
- Twitter is not your friend
- Instagram is not your friend
- Dating Ap is not your friend (I’m old. I guess if it works… eh.)
- Even email, lovable old email, is not your friend
- Anything that you use to stave off boredom in quick reflexive jerks, every time and in every moment the world stops being fascinating, is a crutch with which you weaken your attention, your will, and your precious bodily fluids.
Or so Cal says, and so some, ah, actual research, suggests.
So here I am. Day four. I wonder if anybody notices I’ve left the party?
If you’ve missed me leave a note.
Cal has told me, nobody is going to care.
The next person in the circle jerk just scoots in an little closer and starts stroking.
NOTE: If you are reading this on Facebook, be aware that I have a plug-in that feeds my blog into my author page, for all six people that look at my author page. So. Don’t take the fact that you’re seeing this make you think I am currently basking in FBs glorious, seductive babble of crafted info-bits.
Cuz I’m not. I’m standing out in the the rain rubbing two sticks together. Wood sticks. Forget that circle jerk metaphor.
It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.
I’m gonna be Superman in twenty six more days, or I’m going find Mr. Newport and give him noogie.