Simplifying online life

So relate to all of this, especially the endless trap of auditioning (which replaces doing actual work). Being aware of it is half of the solution.

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For those of you that struggle with Facebook I really recommend blocking your newsfeed. That’s been the most helpful for me. That way I can go to FB and just see if I have messages but I don’t get caught in the scroll. You do miss out on births/deaths/social events, etc. as most people, it seems, use that as their main place to announce things socially and that can be a challenging thing but I try and rely on the idea that if someone I really care about dies, has a baby, releases a record, etc. then I’m going to know because they’re my friend and I should be in touch with them via phone/email/etc. Not always the case but…

I run a creative retreat/recording studio in the countryside in Ontario and I have pretty strict cellphone ban in the studio (if I’m producing/engineering). The amount of times I’ve had to ask the drummer if he’s ready for a take and his phone is on his snare drum and he’s scrolling through Instagram as if he isn’t about to make something he claims is important and that will, hopefully, last forever. It infuriates me and depresses me.

I guess one weird fallout I’ve had with ditching my smartphone is that when I’m in public it’s impossible not to notice how bad everyone is addicted to their phones. Everyone buried in them wandering the streets, out for a pint, having conversations with friends…It’s magnified now that I’m not one of them. I actually sneak off to text as it makes me feel really guilty/gross to even pull my phone out in public. I’m grateful that my life/occupation allows me to, for the most part, be sans phone in the world. I carry the old one with me in a backpack if I’m on tour/traveling in case I need to access traveling information but finding more and more often that I’m just getting more confident with asking people for help and having a conversation.

I use a Blackberry Torch. I can type on it fast enough. Not so fast that you want to write long essays. Usually I’ll just call someone if it’s going to be more than a few texts. And, as far as I can figure out, it’s not supported by Blackberry anymore so I can’t get any apps on it. Needs a charge every few days. Doesn’t drop calls. Works great. I recommend for anyone that wants to switch. I did the T9 thing first and it was brutal. haha.

I think a lot of my issues stem from the fact that in a perfect world I’d not have social media. My wife and I struggle with it as we both have music careers, and the studio, and it continues to be the main place for us to advertise our tours/records/studio. I do fear a complete erase of these platforms would hurt us in that regard, at least for now…

Thanks for all these. Keep em coming! Love this.


Look for a blue circle on the right hand side near the scrolling. The forum software is called Discourse.

edit: it can also be a grey circle and can show at the bottom of the thread.

Getting Facebook off my phone, then quitting it entirely, was helpful.

I find I substitute other things in a similar time slot – they don’t get their hooks in as much as Facebook did, and I wouldn’t call it “unhealthy” as such but they still keep me poking idly at my phone rather than being fully present where I am. It’s usually Instagram, or ironically here, or MW. Places that I really don’t need to stay on top of on a minute-to-minute basis; I won’t miss anything if I wait a few hours. :wink:

So I’m removing the Instagram shortcut from my phone, as well as the quick links from my broswer as a reminder to myself.

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i hid the facebook app and turned off notifications at the end of March. didn’t make a big announcement, just did it for myself. super easy step to take.

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I deleted the facebook app and only check it occasionally using the safari browser. Better for me, but also stops all the weird background processes an app can run.


Yeah, that was a bigger factor for me. The app is a serious battery drain. I had no idea until a buddy suggested deleting it.

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Echoing others in that simplifying yr phone can go a long way - smartphones are designed for affirmation/distraction in ways laptops aren’t.

I still use the first android phone I ever got in 2014. Even stock android lets you disable the apps it ships with, so I just have web browsers and social media turned off, and I use all of that on my laptop, which is a lot easier to self-moderate since I’m used to my laptop being a productivity device (social media can be productive if you use it well). I use Flume to post and DM on instagram, which is helpful to keep.


Flume is amazing. Thanks for the suggestion. Way better than my old technique of posting via Inspect tablet mode. hahaha

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The “purity” part of the title of this thread is a turn off. I’m all for the general notion of the suggestions here in for those that need them, but there is nothing inherently “pure” about not using Facebook. The value judgement implied feels bad. Also this thread seems extremely redundant to the quitting social media thread.

Edit: For context: the original title had a “/Purifying the soul”


Sorry it rubbed you that way. Wasn’t the intention. I thought it was pretty obviously tongue in cheek. I’ve changed it.

And I guess my initial post was misleading. Wasn’t looking for suggestions in regards to quitting social media. More interested in ways to better handle using them for those of us that maybe feel overwhelmed by the platforms sometimes. For instance, @andrew mentioned that Flume app which I got today and think it’s a partial solution to my problem so grateful for the suggestion.


Hey @pwenzel – new to the forum but also from Mpls/StP. Any chance you are referring to the place in Seward?

I can’t remember when I uninstalled Facebook from my phone but, as others have said, it quickly leads to less logins on other devices. Now I’m living a sort of mundane bliss of not caring about Facebook.

For productivity and website blocking I looked at various Chrome/Firefox plugins but did not like the amount of access I had to give them. So for Windows, I just edited my hosts file to block websites. I believe this can be done for Mac/Linux as well.

I actually really liked the idea of purifying my online experience.

A huge portion of what I do digitally seems to be just shit on the wall type smatterings of information and ideas. Actually using these new connective technologies to streamline our lives seemed to be the original intention of the thread.


There are threads on mysticism on lines, so you intention of tongue-and-cheek was very not clear. Thanks for clarifying your position.

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Having just attempted to “not use screens” (as in monitors, digital displays, TVs, smartphones) for about a week and a half, I can attest that the grip of the online life (and even the offline, but still digital) is intense. I do not maintain accounts on any of the large social media (though I’m certain they have a vast quantity of shadow data on me), I do not really do much more with the Internet beyond research, read the news, communicate person-to-person with specific other people, and synchronize my files, but even then, it’s astonishing how much of my life is spent using computers. A brief catalogue of things I found myself breaking the restriction for:

  • Looking up recipes (either ones I’d written down in my notes apps or new ones online)
  • Chatting with loved ones (those I have no other way to converse with/keep updated than this or international/internet phone calls)
  • Reading copious things out of boredom (I have a habit of reading/researching/generally puttering in a more-or-less learning/curiosity-oriented way when bored or finding myself idle) when I’d read all the interesting books on my bookshelf at the moment
  • And of course dealing with the myriad day to day essentials of communication with the greater world like doctors, the government, insurance, etc.

In all, I realized that if I am not actively cooking, cleaning, doing yoga/meditating, taking a walk/shopping, engaged deeply in a physical hobby, or actively in the presence of a friend, I’m likely to be on the computer in some form or fashion. And even when doing those aforementioned activities I’m often using the computer (and the Internet) to assist, inform, or otherwise “enhance” the action.

This is similar to the realization, when fasting for several days, that the majority of social human interaction revolves around food and drink: you might be on a restrictive diet or abstain from certain things (like I do Facebook, etc.) but you still don’t realize how much food is a part of your day to day social existence until you cut it out entirely.

I’m of the opinion that computers and the Internet are useful tools to enhance and broaden communication, so that’s a good thing, but that they all to easily can co-opt our ability to be “in the moment”, and as mentioned in this thread and elsewhere, affect our ability to focus (sort of causing a similar phenomenon to ADD out of habit forming around short-term action).

I’ll elaborate on this one just a bit more, if you’ll bear with me. I often find myself flipping between “spaces” (virtual desktops) as a form of fidget spinner. I go to news websites that I’ve just been to out of habit for typing the url from boredom. These aren’t really healthy habits - they’re a sign that I’m having trouble focusing and engaging with what’s around me. That’s one of the reasons I actually like programming. When I can get in the flow, it’s completely mentally consuming and I don’t feel like stepping outside that to distract myself. But when I have trouble finding flow, oh boy it’s distraction city.

So, to sum it up, while social media tends to inspire “fidget spinner”/ADD-like symptoms in people, by design as it were, we can develop the same bad habits of short attention spans and constant searching for new stimulation even when we severely restrict our engagement, if we’re not careful and purposeful. I’m going to start by breaking out my paper cookbooks (I have a stack, sitting somewhere), doing the research for my upcoming sewing projects in a block and printing out or writing down in a physical book my notes on the process rather than keeping them digital, and transitioning my shopping lists to paper (I’m a Field Notes subscriber, so I have tons of perfect notebooks laying around). By focusing on what I can do that doesn’t need a computer, and noticing when I reach for one and why, I can hopefully restore that relationship to that of a good tool - used when necessary and put away when no longer beneficial to the project at hand.

Edit: I’ll chime in on the purifying thing too - purifying, especially in a spiritual or metaphysical sense, doesn’t always mean total removal. It means finding the right relationships, the correct inclusions, and omitting the negative. It involves nuance, care, and attention to detail. I think it was a completely appropriate word for the title, if a bit poetic when combined with soul, and I think it’s a shame that we’re policing the poetry of titles around here. I sort of liked that they were little surprises when I got into topics - related, poetic, a gentle guide for the conversation, and a light into someone’s perspective, all at once. So I’m entirely in favour of the original title and am not really thrilled with the way one person’s frustration caused it to lose all its poetry.


I just wanted to waste another reply to say that your post was eloquently written and reflects pretty accurately how I feel as well.

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I use Stayfocusd to restrict my Facebook, Reddit, and Imgur time to 10 minutes, motivated in part by a TEDTalk similar to what @oakbloodthree shared. Over the course of about a year, my desire to visit these sites has shrunk, and I no longer waste time on them like I used to.

I found it useful to examine why I was going online (again, like @oakbloodthree!) and what I was getting out of it. I thought I was going online to talk to like-minded people, to get intellectual stimulation and resources, to relax and have fun. But really, when I looked at, I just ended up with a lot of open tabs and too much time on the couch!

I’ve tried to replace social media time with other activities that are appropriate to the (lack of) energy level I had when I would open up Facebook. I play some scales on my instrument, play a quick boardgame, or watch a 30-minute episode of something on Netflix or a music theory YouTuber.


That’s by far my biggest online timesink, YouTube.

It’s just so full of wonderful ideas and people. From politics to music production and theory most of my time is spent taking in that information.

It’s been both a blessing and a curse. I’ve become introduced to brand new political frameworks and musical ideas, but I’ve also been ripped away from school, work, and family.

Sitting down and prioritizing the things I want to learn about in detail is something I’ve got to work on.

Thanks for stating this so simply and clearly. It’s something I know I struggle with, and reading your post makes me feel more motivated to notice when I am doing it, question myself about what I would like to be focusing on instead, and figuring out a way to make that happen.