Tales from Digital Rehab (4) As I Was Saying…

What's wrong with this picture?

What’s wrong with this picture?

A friend sent me this video yesterday – along with the ironic observation that a rap decrying our obsession with screens was delivered – how else? – by screen.  And that a screed lambasting Facebook would show up – where else? – on Facebook.

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I have managed to more or less maintain my “social media” embargo for the better part of three weeks now.  I have ranted a few times via Twitter @Comcastcares (they don’t, really, it was a full week before anybody tweet-replied to the most recent distress signal.  Hence the ensuing hash tag #Comcastjustpretendstocare).

And I have made one or two ‘guerilla strikes’ each day into Facebook to see if there are any actual pressing matters that have been left for me there.  So far, no so much.

So I am learning that an Internet addict CAN manage their consumption of digits, just as an overeater can learn how to manage their consumption of calories.

More parallel ironies come to mind.  I have said on several occasions that over the past few months my engagement with the ‘social media’ firmament has been recalling my relationship with Johnny Walker and Stolichnaya in the months before I finally started going to AA meetings in the fall of 1987.   Some arithmetic is in order:

I started getting stoned, etc. in the spring of 1969, and closed the book on that chapter of my life in the fall of 1987.  That’s roughly 18-1/2 years.

I got on the Internet in earnest in 1995 (though I’ve been online since 300 baud in 1979) and put myself on this “Digital Rehab” program in 2014.  That’s, umm… roughly 19 years.  Close enough for the sake of ironic symmetry.

Obvious, I am still on the Internet even though I haven’t had a sip, a snif, or a puff in… it’ll be 27 years this coming Thanksgiving Day.

As I’ve said, that’s the difference between being an alcoholic and a digi-holic.  Being a digi-holic is more like being an overeater.  A recovering alcoholic can get along fine for the rest of his life without a drop of liquor ever passing over his lips.  An overeater is going to have to find away to eat.

And I will have to find a way to integrate all this nonsense back into my existence.

Starting with creating and maintaining effective filters on what constitutes “nonsense.”

Which starts by withdrawing completely from the ‘random trivia generator’ that a Facebook ‘news feed’ has become.

Oh, I still have access to several random trivia generators.

I use the Pulse RSS reader (now ‘LinkedIn Pulse’ since LinkedIn acquired the company, though it is still the only real use I’ve found for anything having to do with LinkedIn), several times a day.  But the information I’m accessing through that app is a tad better filtered than what I typically get on Facebook: I decide what the feeds are, have them categorized in pages, and can pretty much decide what I information I care to avail myself to at any time.  That’s where I keep Andrew Sullivan, Salon, Cult of Mac, This Modern World (the Tom Tomorrow comic) and a couple dozen photography sources.  It comes in very handy when I’m standing on a line somewhere – like when it takes 30 minutes to return a appliance to Comcast.

So still no Facebook on my mobile devices, and still no default email account.  That way there is nothing tugging at my attention on my phone.  On a conscious level I know there is nothing new – no new emails, no notifications from Facebook – so there is no reason to “check” my device(s).

Which leaves me to observe and ignore the subconscious impulse to “check” every couple of minutes.

And my “phone”?  It’s mostly an audio book player these days… I’m learning a lot about the first decades of English colonization in the New World…



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Paul Schatzkin