Hermit crab retreats, not retweets

Last week, my esteemed colleague Lincoln McCardle wrote about decluttering his life. While he was getting rid of actual material objects, I’ve started a similar journey to reduce the mental clutter in mine.

Changing my whole life at once seemed a bit like an administrative nightmare, though, so I wrote down a bunch of things I want to remove from my routine, habits I want to kick, and excesses I want to slough. Then I turned each of them into a three-week challenge, and put them in my calendar throughout the year.

First up: get off of Twitter. I actually don’t devote that much time to tweeting or watching my timeline. The problem with Twitter is the tangents it sends you on. Oh, the tangents! Not only can they be big time-eaters, a lot of what floats around on Twitter makes me angry, sad, disheartened . . . all the bad emotions, basically. It’s a grumpy place.

So while I was still sipping my New Year’s Eve champagne, I put a Gone Fishin’ sign on my account and logged out. The commitment is for 21 days, with an option to renew for as long as I see fit, up to and including the duration of my natural life.

The biggest surprise has been how easily the social media switch flipped. Not only have I not posted for the past (almost) three weeks, I’ve barely thought about it or missed it. There’ve been a couple moments of brilliance when it seemed a darn shame not to bless the world with its usual unfettered access to my visionary insights on the mundane. But it’s been easy to let those moments pass, and they stopped altogether by the middle of week two.

I spend roughly 80 percent of my waking time basically alone, so I did get lonely a couple of times, and had to accept the fact social media has filled a certain gap. For me, that gap is the space where most people put real-life interaction. I’m kind of a hermit — and generally disliked — so I probably have looked to social media for a little bit of human-on-human time over the years.

As I rounded the corner into week three, I actually started to think about (brace yourselves, folks) asking people if they wanted to meet up for in-person communication. I can tell you the last time I did that, but to check the date, I’ll have to dig out my ST:TNG diary, and I think it’s packed away with my NKOTB autobiographies.

All the same, I think it’s probably important we continue to acknowledge for all the negative press it gets, social media does provide an often-needed opportunity to connect. Maybe some of us should just curate those connections, and the ways we access them, with a little more mindfulness.

As for me, I think I’m going to extend my social media leave of absence, but next week, I start a new challenge: no TV for three weeks. So I’m basically crawling under a rock. Someone send word if they find Jimmy Hoffa’s body or anything.

Originally published in Our London on January 19, 2017.