In January I went through a social media detox and wrote about it on Medium. I would have done that this time around as well, had they not changed their monetisation, because this topic isn’t exactly an otaku one. Oh well, if you’re not interested, just skip this one.
January was crazy. It was such a busy and atypical month that I had little time to miss social media. But the subsequent months were different. Suddenly, I found myself with free time and nothing to fill it with. Social media slowly crept back into my life and made themselves very, very comfortable. Once again realizing I wasn’t working on the important projects and instead whittling away hours every day checking for new posts, I turned BlockSite back on.
BlockSite is a Chrome extension, which blocks the five most distracting sites for me. Of course, it has more features than that, but I use just this main function. This time around I’m blocking facebook, tumblr, twitter, one discussion website (think reddit) and pinterest, even though I rarely use it. On top of BlockSite, I uninstalled twitter and tumblr apps from my phone.
Roughly 24 hours in I already feel a lot more productive. I still had downtimes in my day, but they weren’t filled with cycling through social media. Instead I read From Truant to Anime Screenwriter and a couple of posts from my RSS feed. Today’s messages are:
Think about what you will fill the sudden emptiness with.
I feel like I spent almost a third of each day prior reading social media. I wasn’t even all that active myself. I just spent approximately seven hours every day reading snippets about others’ days. And of course, I bemoaned the fact that there just isn’t time for all my important projects. Yeah, I feel stupid. These first hours are very reminiscent of the January detox. I remember feeling dumb back then as well.
Reading a good book or blog post from a personally curated RSS feed beats gulping down hundreds (or thousands) of canapés about others’ lives hands down.
From Truant to Anime Screenwriter is a memoir of Mari Okada, a prolific Japanese writer, who has authored anime and live-action screenplays. Recently she has directed the 2018 anime film Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms. From Truant to Anime Screenwriter is a rather short book. I’ve burned through about half of it in the past 24 hours.
Life has its ups and downs. I haven’t felt as productive these past three days as I did on Day 1. On the other hand, I feel focused. Case in point: I have finished four (albeit short) books in the past three days.
First was Mari Okada’s From Truant to Anime Screenwriter, which I talked about above and expressed interest for in a blogpost 10 months ago. The book certainly did give me some insight into Okada’s life and her reasons for writing anime scripts the way she does. It doesn’t change the fact that I’m not too fond of her work. She does a great job developing her (mostly interesting) characters, but when there is no story, the anime just doesn’t work for me.
Second was Oprah’s Wisdom of Sundays. It took me two months to finish and it’s an okay book, but that’s about all I have to say about it.
Third and fourth are by Hiromi Kawakami, a Japanese writer, literary critic, poet and provocative essayist. She started off in sci-fi and ended up in magical realism. I read Manazuru and The Briefcase. There is enough magical realism in Manazuru for me not to like it as much, but The Briefcase was pretty enjoyable. I plan on reading The Nakano Thriftstore by her soon as well.
For the time being I started Changing Places by David Lodge. I can’t say I’ve done much outside of reading though. When I’m not buried in a book, I’m either asleep or staring into space.
I’m still reading a lot, but I’ve also started studying and exercising again. There is still a lot of white space in my waking hours, which means either staring into space or browsing the net. It makes me feel better to know I’m not aimlessly cycling through social media. When hypnotizing my computer screen, I’m likely researching something (like identifying a pretty bush I found on my fitness walk through the park), reading articles from my RSS feed (the number of unread posts is actually diminishing) or… stuff.
Like I wrote above, life has its ups and downs. I have been reading, but I haven’t done much else. David Lodge’s Changing Places was quite fun, though that was to be expected. Right now I’m reading the second book of The Campus Trilogy called Small World. (Changing Places is the first book in the series, though the books make sense by themselves too. I actually read the third book, Nice Work, in 2016. I’m considering rereading it after I finish Small World.)
Having finished seven books in the past two weeks, I have caught up and even gotten ahead of my reading plan. Now if I only found the energy to delve into my studies. Those steel I-beams, bolts of various threads, and all types of loads are waiting. And those window frames are itching to be assessed…
I realize I have been writing about books quite a bit, but I really haven’t been doing much else. What is nice about this second run of the social media detox is that I don’t miss them much. I think I have tried to open just two of the blocked sites in those ten days and each one just once. Of course, I wonder what some people are doing, but it’s not like I can’t text them or wait a couple of days until I see them again. As cruel as it may sound, if I don’t have means outside of social media of contacting someone, we’re probably not that close anyway.
I finished Small World and went on to read Nice Work. Other than reading I have not been doing much, but I have been cleaning a little bit at least.
I knocked off Nice Work on Monday, Where’d You Go, Bernadette on Tuesday and today (Thursday) I finished The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. I went on some walks, studied a tiny bit, cleaned, babysat, ran some errands I have been putting off,…
Having always been an avid reader, it’s rather shameful that I hadn’t read Anne Frank’s diary until my 28th year. On the other hand, save for a couple of Remarque’s novels and mandatory school reading I haven’t really read much wartime literature. As expected, I cried reading the afterword detailing the desolate deaths of the inhabitants of the Secret Annex. Especially after the last couple of entries/letters, that were very optimistic, sadness just welled up and poured out of my eyes. Of course I knew how she met her end, but still…
She writes about D Day (exactly 75 years ago, as I’m writing this on June 6, 2019) and about the progress of the Allied forces, which fills her with optimism. And just a couple of entries later the diary ends. The Secret Annex was raided on August 4, 1944, only 9 months before the liberation of Amsterdam.
Hermann van Pels (van Daan) was, according to the testimony of Otto Frank, gassed to death in Auschwitz in October or November 1944, shortly before the gas chambers were dismantled.
Auguste van Pels (Petronella van Daan) was transported from Auschwitz to Bergen-Belsen, from there to Buchenwald, then to Theresienstadt on April 9, 1945, and apparently to another concentration camp after that. It is certain that she did not survive, though the date of her death is unknown.
Peter van Pels (van Daan) was forced to take part in the January 16, 1945 “death march” from Auschwitz to Mauthausen (Austria), where he died on May 5, 1945, three days before the camp was liberated.
Fritz Pfeffer (Albert Dussel) died on December 20, 1944, in the Neuengamme concentration camp, where he had been transferred from either Buchenwald or Sachsenhausen.
Edith Frank died in Auschwitz-Birkenau on January 6, 1945, from hunger and exhaustion.
Margot and Anne Frank were transported from Auschwitz at the end of October and brought to Bergen Belsen, a concentration camp near Hannover (Germany). The typhus epidemic that broke out in the winter of 1944-1945, as a result of the horrendous hygienic conditions, killed thousands of prisoners, including Margot and, a few days later, Anne. She must have died in late February or early March. The bodies of both girls were probably dumped in Bergen-Belsen’s mass graves. The camp was liberated by British troops on April 12, 1945.
Otto Frank was the only one of the eight to survive the concentration camps.
Although I can’t waste time on social media, I do spend quite a large portion of my days at the computer. I have been going through my open tabs. You see, I have a habit of opening several, usually three, articles from my RSS feed at a time to read. And surprise, surprise, the longer ones often don’t get read. So right now I have 34 tabs open. I’m pretty sure some of these articles have been waiting for me for years. Seriously.
Eleven more days, six more books.
Daily Rituals: Women at Work by Mason Currey is a continuation of his Daily Rituals, which featured the daily routines of famous artists. Realizing the first book starred predominantly men, he wrote another focusing solely on female artists.
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck and The Guide to Self-Knowledge by Mark Manson are both a sort of self-help books written in his not-so-common voice. That means there is quite a bit of swearing, as you might have deemed from the title. I actually read the first one last year, but it was still enjoyable the second time around.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald was a bit of a let down. The great American novel! The tragic love story! The symbolism! I have to admit the writing is pretty good. Other than that, I really don’t understand what the humbug is about.
Yesterday I finished The Collector by John Fowles. I liked the form of the book and the ending. It was a bit unexpected, which is always nice. The characters felt very believable. The monstrous gap between the ways they perceived the same events gave the story even more depth. But it was sad and I don’t think there is much reread value.
Today I finally finished The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. I started it around Easter. It’s long-winded. I admit I expected more of a Nobel Prize winner.
Only three more days of the challenge, but there isn’t much pulling me back towards social media.
ALMOST A MONTH LATER
In the last three days of the challenge I read Mr. Theodore Mundstock. It’s a pretty short novel about a Prague Jew during World War II. A book about schizophrenia, fear and helplessness. I can’t say I “liked” or “enjoyed” it, but I think I can say it was humbling, relatable and even a bit motivational.
Since the end of the challenge I have been busy. There is just so much to do and rarely do I long to scroll through the endless feeds of facebook or Twitter.
On facebook I find value in messages and events. I use messenger.com and I suppose I might designate one evening per week to check the facebook website for events, but other than that there is just nothing.
Twitter recently redesigned their web interface and it is a nightmare.
Namely, the default view is now not a chronological feed of the accounts the user follows, but a so called “Home,” which shows the “top” tweets first. Sure, you can switch back to a chronological feed, but it will revert to the default Home if you don’t visit the website for about 2 days. I won’t delete my account, but I don’t see myself using Twitter much ever again.
tumblr, on the other hand, I might start using just about every day again.
I’m considering deleting my pinterest account, but it is a great source of creative inspiration. For example, I want to design some shelves for our cat and pinterest is chock-full of ideas.
Lastly, that reddit-like discussion website… I don’t know. Perhaps I’ll limit it to one visit per week?
In the January run I realized how much I used social media, when in reality there was barely anything useful or even convenient. This time around I had a replacement activity ready and realized I could easily read 16 books in a month, when I wasn’t checking social media every other minute.
Bottom line, I really don’t have the time to waste on something that doesn’t bring me any value. Once again, I sincerely recommend this challenge to just about anyone.