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October 3, 2013 6:49 PM   Subscribe

11 Ways I'm Trying to Achieve a Sane Relationship With the Internet
posted by paleyellowwithorange (41 comments total) 47 users marked this as a favorite

 
These are all nice ideas. You know what else are a nice idea? Unicorns.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 6:55 PM on October 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


I've been doing some similar stuff. It's wonderful. First to go: politics blogs. That alone was a big improvement in quality of life.
posted by thelonius at 6:57 PM on October 3, 2013 [14 favorites]


My trick was cutting down my RSS feeds to just what I can reasonable read in a day (which is not much). Also, yeah I declare RSS bankruptcy from time to time.
posted by 2bucksplus at 7:02 PM on October 3, 2013


12. Don't read linkbait articles like Top Eleven lists.
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:05 PM on October 3, 2013 [26 favorites]


I've been entertaining the notion of taking a month off every year. Because, for me at least, it seems to be more about reminding myself that there's an entire world out there that used to be mostly bearable without the online option, than it is about the every day density and distraction of the interwebs (which I kind of love).
posted by philip-random at 7:05 PM on October 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


1. Only read Metafilter.
posted by azarbayejani at 7:10 PM on October 3, 2013 [27 favorites]


I was going to say what charlie don't surf said. It's yet another "N ways to Y" click-candy headline. OF COURSE I HAD TO go read it.

Having read it, it's good. And I plan to print it and put it somewhere near my bed, where I'll read it morning and evening just before and after bed, instead of checking Hacker News and Metafilter.
posted by kandinski at 7:11 PM on October 3, 2013


I got rid of my internet connection at home, and my smartphone altogether. Now I just use the internet at work. Really improved my ability: posted by paleyellowwithorange at 7:15 PM on October 3, 2013 [7 favorites]


I usually just check email, facebook, and here. I think this website is the best thing on the internet.
posted by eq21 at 7:16 PM on October 3, 2013 [7 favorites]


The other main change I am trying to make is to check email at work once an hour or so. Except in the part of the day where the big boss typically sends out mails, then I want to be responding quickly if I'm needed.

It's really stressful, trying to concentrate and get results while also having to monitor multiple channels of communication.
posted by thelonius at 7:17 PM on October 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


check email at work once an hour or so

Oh yeah, I check my work email once an hour, and my personal email three times while I'm work: when I get there, after lunch, and just before I leave.

It's nice not to be constantly watching for new notifications, and not feeling like everything has to be actioned immediately.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 7:24 PM on October 3, 2013


8. Turn off all notifications that threaten to interrupt or distract.
A few days ago, I realized I used Twitter too much at work. I didn't use it at home. It served as a distraction from my job. When I left work, I would still have a lot left to do. At first, I disabled the push notifications. When this didn't keep me away, I deleted the app from my phone. Now I finish my work well before I go home, and I keep my jokes to myself.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 7:28 PM on October 3, 2013


Technology loop
posted by jenh526 at 7:30 PM on October 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


Woah. Been there.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 7:34 PM on October 3, 2013


I had some friends who gave up electricity for Lent, except in the kitchen (for appliances, not for other stuff). They really, really enjoyed it and now they do it every year. They were playing guitar in the living room by candlelight, which is a little much for me, but isn't a bad idea if moderated -- electricity only to lamps (and the kitchen, and electronic devices turned off) between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m., for example. You could do lots of reading, talking, reading books, playing games, being crafty.

Although personally my cutoff is: when I read 3 Gawker or Buzzfeed articles in a row, I know I've run out of internet and it's time to go to bed or find a book. Not that I don't love Buzzfeed (in particular), just that I know that's when I've crossed into mindless surfing.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:38 PM on October 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


I've been doing some similar stuff. It's wonderful. First to go: politics blogs. That alone was a big improvement in quality of life.

I totally unplugged on politics except for the occasional FPP and I am so much happier and more productive and not angry all the time. I also hid/ignored all my friends on both sides that constantly post political updates and unfriended anyone that posted stupid crap, political or otherwise. Again, so much better.

The other main change I am trying to make is to check email at work once an hour or so. Except in the part of the day where the big boss typically sends out mails, then I want to be responding quickly if I'm needed.

If you're interested, there's a whole section in The Four Hour Workweek about doing this. He actually cuts it down to, I think, 2 hours a day during set times.

Personally, what I do is Skype. I have my email box open but only check it when the inbox number is too high or every few hours. If it's really important, you can poke me on Skype. I check email/Skype once when I get home from working out (this is only because I have clients in distant time zones so they really may need something at 7pm because it's morning there or something) and handle anything that needs handling and then I am checked out. If it's THAT urgent, you can call me. I have found if it's hard enough to get you, things are seldom That Urgent, but this obviously requires the right kind of boss/client/etc.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 7:49 PM on October 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I had no electricity for a week or so after a hurricane. There was not much to do but go to bed at dark, since I had very little in the way of candles or batteries. It was kind of nice, for a couple of days.
posted by thelonius at 7:52 PM on October 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ever been on a website - any website - and started to enter the URL of the website you're already on? That's when you know you have a problem.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:00 PM on October 3, 2013 [39 favorites]


1. Only read Metafilter.

Also seems like too much sometimes...
posted by ovvl at 8:04 PM on October 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Linky clicky baity whatever, that is all pretty good advice. Needed it. Thanks.
posted by psoas at 8:08 PM on October 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I fail at all of these, except #7 because who can go to bed if there are blog posts to read? I'm writing this comment from my bed. I need heeeeeelp.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:09 PM on October 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well in my daily efforts to read the internet cover to cover, I epic fail, but there is glory and reward in the daily effort.

Lost my smartphone and went without for 3 weeks. You actually get used to it pretty quickly. Only problem is that your kids, friends, boss, etc don't. Getting my 16 year old to actually call me at home on my land line when he needed a ride home instead of a text was pulling teeth. But, he learned because he needed something from me. Ha!
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:14 PM on October 3, 2013


Tuesday night fights on Deadspin and cyst popping Youtube videos. That's when I know I'm fucked. When I'm working, I use the pomodoro technique to try and stay focused.
posted by phaedon at 8:23 PM on October 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well, I guess this is goodnight then, from another member of the bed brigade.
posted by ocherdraco at 8:26 PM on October 3, 2013


First to go: politics blogs. That alone was a big improvement in quality of life.

I cut back deeply when I realized these things:

- I'm already reasonably well informed on the major year-in-year-out issues.
- The parties rarely make major changes to their platforms.
- Any big breaking stories will turn up either on my alarm clock CBC or on metafilter.
- Stephen Harper is still going to be Prime Minister next month
- Stephen Harper will do something shameful, sleazy or sociopathic sometime in the next month. At this point I feel like I might as well skip a couple of scandals and refuel my outrage in January.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 8:32 PM on October 3, 2013 [7 favorites]


Not going to read the article because I know a sane relationship with the internet isn't possible and I won't have you all poisoning my mind thank you very much.
posted by bleep at 8:41 PM on October 3, 2013


That's when you know you have a problem.

No, the worst is when tumblr is down so you decide to pass the time by checking out tumblr and you do it 4 times before remembering

sob
posted by elizardbits at 8:49 PM on October 3, 2013 [8 favorites]


Thankfully, I made a policy decision early on not to get on Facebook and I don't get Tumblr so that saves me a lot of time I can waste on Twitter, Instagram and every newspaper in every town I have ever lived.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:01 PM on October 3, 2013


I used to read the newspaper while eating breakfast, but over the years I've drifted into combining breakfast with MetaFilter, so I fail at #1. But in my defense, the paper has been getting dumber and dumber, while Mefi remains at least as interesting as it ever was. Going back would feel like a downgrade at this point.
posted by Kevin Street at 9:05 PM on October 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Man, it would be great if my job allowed me to do more than half of those things.
posted by koeselitz at 9:27 PM on October 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


One simple step to being the person you always wanted to be:

1. Be the person you always wanted to be.
posted by bicyclefish at 10:04 PM on October 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


12. Kill your smartphone. If you must have a mobile, go oldschool with a basic flip-phone.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:50 AM on October 4, 2013 [4 favorites]



I too gave up politics blogs and sites a year or so ago. I've found that I'm still somehow pretty informed on what's going on or if someone brings something up in conversation it's pretty easy to take an informed guess to what it's likely about. Details may be different but the patterns stay the same. I occasionally make a broad sweep of various sites or news outlets but don't have the desire or need to slog into the minute details. This seems to be enough to keep from being clueless.

I won't be doing number one. I think it might be an issue if I was on or had access to the internet all day but I don't. I have however cut down my morning internet rounds quite a bit then it has been. Metafilter made the cut.

Much of this seems like good advice. I'm just getting into more desk type job world as well as just got a smartphone after be phoneless for several years so maybe I can manage to start off with better habits then trying to change after the fact.
posted by Jalliah at 4:45 AM on October 4, 2013


12. Kill your smartphone. If you must have a mobile, go oldschool with a basic flip-phone.

Yes! This is one reason I have resisted the siren call of a smartphone for so long. Though I have an iPod Touch and a lot of places have WiFi these days, so that's almost as bad.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:44 AM on October 4, 2013


0. Read First Things First and Getting Things Done

These two books (and a fair bit of my own willpower) have really helped me balance my time for best effect - including managing my use of email / twitter / blogs / RSS etc. The 11-point list is fair enough but without getting an understanding of the underlying 'why do I act like this in the first place' then you're pretty much only papering cracks. Read the books.
posted by KirkpatrickMac at 5:52 AM on October 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


When I had to hand back my work-provided iPhone at the end of my employment three months ago, I had a month of panicky desire to know where I am and what Indonesian restaurants might be nearby, what Stephen Fry was twittering about, what Wikipedia had to say about the sloth bear, if any people bears were nearby and interested, if my cousins in Georgia were sharing photos of themselves holding Chick-Fil-A sandwiches, and what people were saying on metafilter about some rambling nonsense I posted.

Then, the feeling subsided and I had just the little blue Virgin Mobile flip phone I bought for my ex ten years ago so he could call for help while out fishing in the woods. It just makes calls, though you can sort of send a text on it if you are someone with tiny fingers and a memory of how that old three-letters-on-a-number thing worked. Hardly anyone calls me now. I make few calls.

If I want to know where I am, I look around. There are no Indonesian restaurants anywhere within sight, and I've ridden my motorcycle in ever-expanding circles to make sure. Stephen Fry will have to twitter to me as pillow talk, when he finally breaks down and decides to date me. There is a sloth bear down at the zoo. I think he is funny and sad and wish he was not in a zoo. There are bears at the local blue collar/military/gearhead/sports/drag/gay/trivia/bear bar, but I am hiding in the corner with my Shirley Temple because I'm shy. My cousins are still Southern Baptist dicks. Some people on metafilter are amused by things I write, and others roll their eyes and say, "oh, for chrissakes, does that guy ever shut up?"

The little blue Virgin Mobile flip phone has a little blinking red dot. Did someone call me?

No, that's just Virgin Mobile sending me a free text advertising some service.


I won't give up metafilter, because it's where good things come from. In other areas, though, I feel like a lot of what Clifford Stoll was retroactively sneered at for writing in Silicon Snake Oil was perfectly true and that it is better to explore an actual cave than to pretend to be in one on a computer. It is probably better to have an actual circle of friends than a virtual one.

Attempting to disconnect from the hive mind does leave you with the silence to process, but there's always Eno.
posted by sonascope at 6:13 AM on October 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


12. Kill your smartphone. If you must have a mobile, go oldschool with a basic flip-phone.

If you ever read about me in the news, it will probably be because I lost it one day in some restaurant or store and started throwing all those damn phones out the window.
posted by JanetLand at 6:45 AM on October 4, 2013


I rarely surf the Internet on my iPhone. Print is too small for eyes this old. I check email if we're out of town and get directions, that's it. I can't imagine trying to read MF on this thing. Even on the iPad I need reading glasses.
posted by Ber at 6:50 AM on October 4, 2013


I totally unplugged on politics except for the occasional FPP and I am so much happier and more productive and not angry all the time.

I did this during the Presidential campaign. I just did it again yesterday. I'm tired of gossip-column reporting on pundits and politicians' latest mouth-spewings, and I'm tired of playing Someone Is Wrong On The Internet with friends of Facebook friends.

I'm not sure I could give up more than that. I'm at a point in my life where I don't have local friends, all my good old friends are in other states, and aside from my wife and her umpty bazillion not-very-close relatives in town, all my family are in other states too.

My wife and I use smartphones at meals to hit up Wikipedia to satisfy curiosity about things we're conversing about. That's totally legit as far as I'm concerned.
posted by Foosnark at 7:02 AM on October 4, 2013


Sometimes I let my current affairs blogs sit unread in my reader for a couple weeks. When I go back to catch up, I realise all of the speculation and analysis is out of date, and worse than useless to me.

I can't remember where I heard this first, but if you woke up from a coma after a year, you wouldn't need to read 300 old newspapers to get up to speed. You'd just surf wikipedia for a couple hours. And it would probably get you just as informed as the person who spent an hour a day hanging out on news blogs. Likewise if you consider a newsagents on any given day. Tons of 'content', but if you spent a week reading it all, you wouldn't be much better informed about anything.

...I should go for a walk.
posted by rollick at 9:14 AM on October 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


1. Only read Metafilter.
This will contain the problem but will not solve it.
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 9:27 PM on October 4, 2013


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