I’ve been trying to cut down on my usage of social media, and of the internet in general. Perhaps I’ll make this a long-term thing? This is what I’ve been trying:

  • Don’t browse on Facebook: set up notifications so that if there’s something I don’t want to miss, I get an email about it
  • Basically avoid Twitter
  • Don’t browse online
  • Continue to use an aggregator to keep up with a small number of blogs (this is something I’ve been doing for years, but I’m constantly amazed that people use the internet in any other way! Feedly is my current recommendation, combined with gReader for Android)
  • Cut down on the number of blogs I follow
  • Read email via an email client (such as Apple Mail), rather than through a web browser
  • Unsubscribe from lots of emails
  • Switch the internet router off at bed time
  • Catch the news headlines on the radio once or twice per day

The great fear is that, by being online less, I will find myself disconnected from things.

But I suspect the opposite might be the case.

Here are some things I feel disconnected from, when I’m spending a lot of time online:

  • People I can see with my eyes
  • Anything that happened, or was written, more than five minutes ago
  • Plants and animals
  • My local community
  • All the really, really important conversations that don’t ‘go viral’ or cause a ‘Twitter storm’
  • Those of my friends or family who are not heavy users of Facebook or Twitter (that’s most of them)
  • Old people
  • People who are very different from myself

In contrast, when I’m offline, these are the things I feel disconnected from:

  • A small number of friends who I frequently interact with online
  • The latest storm in a teacup

The thing about technology, such as the internet, is that while it makes certain things easier, it also makes other things more difficult. The internet makes it really easy to flit from one thing to another almost instantaneously. But this makes it almost impossible to stop and to be still. It holds out to us the possibility of limitless connectivity. But, in reality, it often leaves us totally disconnected from the things that really matter.

I don’t want to withdraw from the internet entirely. Facebook does have its uses. But I do think it will be good for me to spend less time online.

How about you?

(Paradoxically, I tend to have more to say here when I have time to step back and think about things. So the frequency of blog posts might increase!)