A week ago I announced on Facebook that I would be abandoning social media in 2011. This drew a flood of comments and questions, both online and in person, from friends and family. So I thought I would inaugurate this year of my partial unplugging from the Matrix by explaining here, in what will be my sole Teeming Brain post of the calendar year (although see below), the exact nature of and reasons for my choice.
WHAT I’M DOING
First, a clarification: I’m NOT abandoning computers and the Internet completely. This was one of the commonest questions I received. I was careful to specify in the aforementioned Facebook update that it’s the Web 2.0 milieu that’s the object of my cyber-fast. More specifically, and as mentioned above, what I’ll be withdrawing from is the social media subset of the whole thing. This means that while I will still update MattCardin.com with news about my publications and such, and while I’ll still use the Internet to get some of my news and information — including, especially, a host of essays and other worthwhile, long-form reading matter — I won’t be posting or paying much attention at all to Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. I’ll put The Teeming Brain into hibernation, but will continue — thanks to the savvy suggestion of a friend who shall remain unnamed (although you know who you are, Simon) — to maintain and update Demon Muse, probably on a monthly basis. The site has been flying in a holding pattern for the past three months anyway, so monthly updates will constitute an acceleration.
A lot of people wrote to ask if I would keep using email. The answer is yes, but my use of it will assume a highly restricted form compared to my customary schedule. In the past I’ve been one of those people who, when I’m working on a computer, has left Gmail open in the background, the better to respond to time-sensitive messages immediately when they arrive. No more of that. In 2011 I’ll wall off my email activity into two or, at most, three distinctly defined daily sessions: morning, noon, and the end of the workday. Beyond that, nada.
In addition, my overall allotment of online time in general will be drastically curtailed. I’ll regulate and compartmentalize it much in the manner of my email schedule. This will represent a dramatic departure from my former way of doing things.
Beyond all of this, I’m cutting back on the amount of time I spend listening to music and podcasts. Since I was a teen, I have generally filled my drive-time with a buzzing wall of technologically piped-in noise. Now I’m traveling almost entirely in silence.
WHY I’M DOING IT
So what gives? What happened to elicit this plan? Why this shifting of the gears?
By way of an answer, I’ll exploit the very medium that I’m partially abandoning. What follows is carefully chosen, and worth watching to the very end.
(Dialogue immediately before the start of the scene below:
TECH SUPPORT: It’s been a brilliant journey of self-awakening. Now you simply have to ask yourself this: What is happiness to you, David?
DAVID: I want to live a real life. I don’t want to dream any longer.)