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Angry Jedi

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Going dark: A week-long experiment

by Angry Jedi » Sat Sep 06, 2014 10:45 am

Zoe Quinn kicking off on Twitter again this morning and the inevitable parade of, by turns, anger and smugness that accompanied this has convinced me to start a mental health experiment I've been thinking of doing for a while: a social media blackout.

I've logged out from Twitter and Facebook on all my browsers. I've deleted the apps from my phone. I've removed the bookmarks from Chrome. And I'm not going to check either at all until next weekend, at which point I'll decide whether or not I really need either of them in my life. I'm starting to think that I don't.

Why am I doing this? Well, we've all talked about how dumb the constant Internet rage is, but recently starting my new job has put a lot of things in perspective. Whereas I once had Twitter constantly open on my screen as a connection to the rest of humanity while I was working, alone, at home, now I have a job where there are actual, real people around me that I can see and talk to, so the need for constant "company" is now passed.

Twitter hasn't been very good company for a while, anyway. What was once a positive space where like-minded people could get together and talk about common interests has now become a competition as to who can shout the loudest. And anyone who disagrees with -- or just doesn't want to get involved with -- the people who shout the loudest is immediately branded some sort of outcast deviant and subsequently shunned for the rest of all time. It's like high school, but worse, because there really are no safe spaces short of just protecting your tweets and blocking everyone who pisses you off. (Actually, that doesn't really work, either; I've tried.)

Facebook is the same. It's lost its way, and its purpose as a means of real-life friends to stay in touch with one another. Now all I see on my Facebook news feed day after day are stupid videos with clickbait headlines and whatever inane quiz Buzzfeed has come up with this week. It's intolerable noise that's adding nothing of value to my daily life, so I want to see if I can live without it.

There's also the fact that both paint a severely distorted picture of reality, but that's something far beyond the scope of what I want to discuss here.

As such, those of you who do follow me on any of those services won't see any updates from me for this week, aside from automated blog post notifications from my "oneaday" blog at angryjedi.wordpress.com. I won't be replying to any mentions or direct messages, and I won't be available for chat.

I will, however, be available in places where I can take more control over my online socialisation. You'll see me here. You'll see me on my blog. I'll read and respond to emails. And those of you I have on Google Chat, you'll see me there, too. I want to see if this setup is a viable alternative to the constant noise of modern social media; I'm beginning to think that it is, and if nothing else, I think a week away from the echo chambers will do my mental health the world of good.
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Re: Going dark: A week-long experiment

by Bowley » Sat Sep 06, 2014 12:40 pm

This is a good thing, Pete. Facebook can definitely distort reality, as you're looking at the hand picked highlight reel of everyone else and comparing it to your normal every day. I should probably do the same.

Twitter, well... I never joined it and don't get it. I'm glad I never did if it gets as crazy as it sounds like it does.

Anyway, hope it helps you.
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Angry Jedi

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Re: Going dark: A week-long experiment

by Angry Jedi » Sat Sep 06, 2014 8:47 pm

I'm sure it will. While I've had the odd twitch today where I've reached for my phone as if I'd be doing a habitual (compulsive?) Twitter check, I haven't missed the stream of whatever's been going on, and while I've felt some mild curiosity, I haven't been curious enough to go and look but not interact.

I'm pretty sure even these feelings will fade after a day or two and I'll be in a place where I don't feel I "need" either. Perhaps I've already made my mind up.

Either way, I'll be making a call one way or the other next weekend, and I feel positive that this week will help me make the right decision.
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Re: Going dark: A week-long experiment

by Alex Connolly » Sun Sep 07, 2014 2:58 am

I quit NeoGAF for a year - asked a mod for a year-long ban, just to make it official - and come November, I doubt I'll return. The Internet is a noisy bastard of a place. However, that said, I've gone hammer and tongs in curating my Twitter feed, and I get pretty much exactly what I want from it - news from the sources I want, updates from the little devs I want, retweets almost exclusively blocked and people who earn themselves a muting get a single reprieve before getting the flick permanently.

Facebook? It's Fatherbook, used almost exclusively for photos and family contacts.

Looking forward to this place amping up the vibrancy. It'll do nicely in taking over from the scattered discourse had across a variety of platforms.
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Re: Going dark: A week-long experiment

by Teryn » Sun Sep 07, 2014 5:03 am

Twitter does strike me as social SMS messaging: limited character amount, but since many people can see it, you usually have to say something BIG (no pun intended) to get people's attention. Bad combination when misused.
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Re: Going dark: A week-long experiment

by Alex Connolly » Sun Sep 07, 2014 5:29 am

I wish there were no such thing as the retweet option. It's such a lazy way to communicate.
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Angry Jedi

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Re: Going dark: A week-long experiment

by Angry Jedi » Sun Sep 07, 2014 1:04 pm

Agreed. It has the side effect of forcing things into other people's feeds, too. Sometimes it's valuable to expose people to things outside their comfort zone. But at other times, you just want some peace and quiet.

It's not just over drama, either. While all that chaos was going on over in Ferguson, tons of people were retweeting horrible gory images into my feed. With the way Twitter currently handles image previews, there was no way to avoid seeing those. I did not want to see those.
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Re: Going dark: A week-long experiment

by Alex Connolly » Sun Sep 07, 2014 1:26 pm

It's the mindset of a retweet that gets me. The social mechanic of someone's initial utterance becoming some sort of awareness currency, rather than a point of discussion...perhaps it's psychological, but I'd rather an initial link be repacked with an individual thought, rather than the truculent and often smug pass-the-parcel echo chamber game.

And violent or disturbing imagery being handed around? Bugger that right off, regardless of intent.
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Re: Going dark: A week-long experiment

by Bowley » Sun Sep 07, 2014 2:59 pm

Alex Connolly wrote:And violent or disturbing imagery being handed around? Bugger that right off, regardless of intent.

Don't ever visit 4chan...
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Re: Going dark: A week-long experiment

by Teryn » Sun Sep 07, 2014 5:12 pm

Alex Connolly wrote:It's the mindset of a retweet that gets me. The social mechanic of someone's initial utterance becoming some sort of awareness currency, rather than a point of discussion...perhaps it's psychological, but I'd rather an initial link be repacked with an individual thought, rather than the truculent and often smug pass-the-parcel echo chamber game.

And violent or disturbing imagery being handed around? Bugger that right off, regardless of intent.

Yes, doubly so, don't visit 4chan.

I only retweet when there really is nothing more I can add to the original tweet, only when it says what exactly what I would want to say, or when they're things I think others may truly need or want to see. ... Probably done it only 4 times out of my 100-ish total tweets. Others use retweets obsessively, which can get irritating, especially when they're tweets that are only replies to another tweet, which you can't see without clicking something.

The "social awareness currency" idea is a bit awkward, at least. I mean, exactly which 100 people also liked/favourited/retweeted this? Do they share your values, or did they just do it for attention or to vapidly agree with something without really understanding what they were supporting? There does seem to be a bit of a "cool kids" game going there, but more substance in such small thoughts would be heartily welcome.
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