Noisy Deadlines


The Internet. What a wonderful thing. Access to all kinds of information at our fingertips. Connecting people all over the world. Social media is here to allow sharing of ideas and information. Great ! The Internet evolved to be so ubiquitous that we are connected 24/7, even though we don't need to.

I lived almost two decades of my life in a world without Internet. And then I saw it coming. It was amazing! The forums, chats, the “surfing”, discovering pages at random, exploring the web without being followed by cookies and ads.

I totally understand Todd Presta in his post: “Lamentations of a Web 1.0 Dinosaur”:

Doom Scrolling meant panning side-to-side in the 3D view of a first-person shooter video game called “Doom,” not filling your head with an infinite scrolling feed of bad news and wrath.” – Todd Presta

Nowadays, searching anything online is frustrating. Pages and pages of sponsored results. Ads everywhere! Click-bait galore!

And social media... what happened there? I felt super cool when I connected to BBS's back in the day. I became an early adopter of “social media” later. I told my friends about it. I remember I was super excited to have gotten an invite to create a Facebook account. I encouraged people to join! I was so innocent!

Today, in my mid-40's, I feel hacked. After 10+ years using the major social media services (Twitter/Facebook/Instagram), I was unknowingly conditioned to scroll through a news feed. I've unconsciously internalized this behavior; it has become a habit. I deleted my Facebook and Twitter accounts around 3 years ago.

This post from Brandon: I'm a Little Fed Up inspired me to write today. And I sympathize with his frustration:

I'm starting to miss my super quiet blog where I just chatted with folks over email. I just don't think I'm cut out for the modern internet. — Brandon's Journal

I have a Mastodon account and sometimes I wonder if I really want to keep it. Just because of the behavior it triggers in me: spending time scrolling through a feed. I curate my feed very carefully, but still, I see myself wanting to check out what’s new all the time, even though I don’t really need to. It's weird. Something reprogrammed by neuro-circuitry, and I crave for novelty all the time.

If I'm done checking my Mastodon feed, then I search for other sources of quick dopamine boosts. In my case now it's my RSS feed, my email, Discord, online forums. It's the same learned behavior in different environments. That bothers me.

Anyway, I am rethinking whatever I have left in terms of online inputs. The frequency, the volume of information, the usefulness.


Post 12/100 of 100DaysToOffload challenge (Round 2)!

#100DaysToOffload #100Days #internet #NoisyMusings #socialmedia #attentionresistance

Thoughts? Discuss... if you have a account or Reply by email

By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

📺 Every 6 months I review and update my digital subscriptions tracker and I ask myself: do I still use these services? are they adding value to my life?

And I realized that we had 3 active video streaming subscriptions: Netflix, Amazon Prime and Curiosity Stream+Nebula. After some reflections with my partner, we decided to let go of Netflix and Amazon Prime. Why?

We watched a total of 19 shows and movies on those 2 platforms last year. We already saw all the shows we were interested in catching up, such as: Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power, The Expanse, The Witcher, One Piece, Good Omens, Wheel of Time. Honestly, we weren’t that interested in continuing watching future seasons for most of them. And looking at the catalogue for other things to watch we weren’t that thrilled.

Add that to the fact that Amazon Prime will start showing adds and they will charge more to have an ads-free experience. For Netflix, we were already paying the option with no ads. That’s roughly a total $340 CAD a year (not including the increase for Amazon Prime with no ads). We’ve decided we could use that money (and the time!) to get and do more of what we truly love: books for me and video games for him.

We are still keeping the Curiosity Stream subscription with Nebula. Both of them are totally ad-free with interesting enough content to entertain us. I’ve been wanting to watch more documentaries on Curiosity Stream so minimizing our video streaming options will help with that.

We always have the Public Library to borrow movies and shows. We don’t mind waiting to get a hold of a movie. We watched only 7 movies in 2023, so we are not big movie consumers anyway.

So, yeah, a little bit of digital minimalism to start the year! It’s always nice to use technology more intentionally and mindfully. And at this moment of our lives, we just want less distractions and more focus on what brings us most joy. 😊


Post 66/100 of 100DaysToOffload challenge!

#100DaysToOffload #100Days #digitalminimalism #minimalism #attentionresistance

Thoughts? Discuss... if you have a account or Reply by email

By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

I was listening to Cal Newport’s podcast episode 262 and in the final segment he commented on a video by Better Ideas about overstimulation. The video discusses social media addiction, internet addiction and its relation with dopamine. Inspired by the video, Cal Newport then suggests some solutions to the problem.

In summary, his advice to combat online overstimulation is simply:

Don’t use things that cause overstimulation!”

The reasoning behind it is to avoid giving opportunities for our brains to fire up the dopamine response. Dopamine is released when we anticipate doing something pleasurable. So if we get used to reaching out for something entertaining all the time, we will be constantly seeking that stimulation. And nowadays, there are infinite ways to get that dopamine hit at our fingertips instantly.

Cal Newport makes an analogy with smoking: to get rid of this addiction, the end goal is to quit smoking. The solution is never getting used to a regime of smoking less or controlling when and where you smoke: the solution is to actually quit.

So he suggests we remove sources of overstimulation from our lives:

  • Delete all social media! Simple as that.
  • Don’t scroll online news. Subscribe to one or two interesting newsletters instead, or listen to one podcast with daily events if you need to keep up to date with news.
  • Videos and YouTube: YouTube can be a good source of information if used well. Install AdBlockers and Distraction Free extensions for YouTube to eliminate the automated recommendation feature. Another tip is to watch YouTube on a TV in your living room, like you would sit down to enjoy a movie.
  • And the most important tip is to replace all the distractions with high quality entertainment: movies, music, books, high quality videos, documentaries. The more we consume high quality content, the less we will enjoy junk information. We will eventually lose our taste for shallow content.

From my experience, this approach works. I’ve deleted major social media accounts years ago (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter) and nowadays, I don’t miss those services. I’ve recently tried to use Mastodon as a lightweight alternative to social media. Even if Mastodon is open, decentralized and have no algorithmically generated timelines, the model still mimics Twitter, and I was feeling similar FOMO effects using it.

So, I’m keeping away from Mastodon for 30 Days. I’m not sure if I will ever be able to use it without feeling distracted. I might eventually delete my account. We’ll see.

Post 20/100 of 100DaysToOffload challenge!

#100DaysToOffload #100Days #journal #noisymusings #attentionresistance #socialmedia

Thoughts? Discuss... if you have a account or Reply by email

By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

Yesterday I was super distracted at work. Looking back, I think it’s been going on for the past couple of weeks. I’m having this twitch of reaching out for my phone every moment of a small pause. Let’s say I’m calling someone, and those seconds when I’m waiting for the other person to pick up, I look at my phone, trying to check something. It’s an unconscious behaviour. It’s kinda scary to notice it and then realize it was automatic: I had no conscious choice over it.

I’m getting better with my phone: deleting the Discord app made it way less interesting. But I still have that urge to look up things online. I feel like I’ve been conditioned to do that, even when I don’t need it.

Throughout the day I find myself opening the browser. I might be in the middle of a task and something gets unclear or fuzzy, I get frustrated and open a tab. I look at my bookmarks. I keep on switching tabs, checking my bookmarks. I keep waiting for something interesting to happen. Waiting to be entertained.

So I need some time off. One website I’ve been visiting more and more during the day is Mastodon. Similar to the Discord app on my phone, Mastodon is one of the main drivers for my behaviour. Even though Mastodon doesn’t have algorithms and I’ve curated my timeline for it to be less overwhelming, I still have this illogical urge to check it.

I think it has to do with the “Twitter-like” format. Information is too scattered, it's too noisy, too random. This format of short asynchronous messages creates the illusion of cool things happening all the time. It inherently generates FOMO. This “Always Keep Up” method of being online is extremely draining to me. So I guess these micro-blogging formats are not for me anymore.

I’m not deleting my account yet, but I will not use Mastodon for 30 days and re-evaluate. I’m logging out from all my devices and adding the address to the blocked list on all my browsers.

I’ll keep on blogging here. I will still read my RSS feed, which is highly curated and I don’t get FOMO from it.

I’ll check how I’m doing in a week and observe if other sources of distraction will replace Mastodon.

Post 19/100 of 100DaysToOffload challenge!

#100DaysToOffload #100Days #journal #noisymusings #attentionresistance #socialmedia

Thoughts? Discuss... if you have a account or Reply by email

By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

It happened again. I've been picking up my phone every moment of downtime. According to my iPhone's Screen Time, my daily usage went up by 23% in the past week. I've been spending more time than usual on Discord and using the browser.

And I know why it happened, for the most part: I reinstalled the Discord app on my phone. I have book clubs groups on Discord and also the Standard Notes group. I don't really need to check these groups all the time, but at some point in the past weeks I thought it would be nice to have the app at my fingertips. You know, why not have it ready to go when I'm on my lunch break to check what was going on? It turns out I can't be moderate about it. I started checking all the groups early in the morning, during breakfast and then in the mornings and afternoons while I'm at work... and at night before bed. And since I was on the phone, why not open up my browser and check Mastodon? And check my RSS feed? And why not go into a rabbit hole searching for a recipe online? This week I finally took notice of my behaviour: what is going on?

It was a behaviour change, and I'm almost sure it was triggered by having the Discord app readily available for me to use. My willpower is limited so having a shiny tool like Discord diminishes my ability to maintain focus. And it spiralled out of control.

So I'm making my phone less interesting:

  1. I've deleted the Discord app

  2. I've deleted from my browser all the links/favorites to websites that would pull my attention.

  3. And I'm replacing my mindless browsing on my phone with reading a book on my Kobo, or just being alone with my thoughts.

The goal here is to reject the model of my phone as my constant companion, and use it more intentionally.

“Efforts to deepen your focus will struggle if you don’t simultaneously wean your mind from a dependence on distraction.” ― Cal Newport “Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World”

-- Post 16/100 of 100DaysToOffload challenge!

#100DaysToOffload #100Days #journal #attentionresistance #digitalminimalism

Thoughts? Discuss... if you have a account or Reply by email

By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

In August 2018 I deleted my Instagram account! It’s been 5 years!

But the first photo sharing social network I ever used was MOLOME. It was around 2007-2008, if I'm not mistaken. => Edit: It was around 2011, most probably. I would upload photos from my digital camera, a Fujifilm FinePix S5000, and apply the filters to publish my photos. It was like Instagram, before Instagram. There were no ads, only likes, comments section and stickers. I remember I had a Nokia N8 phone running Symbian for a while then I upgraded to a Nokia Lumia 820.

I don't think MOLOME is still around but I have a backup of the photos I published there, a total of 103 photos. Some photos from that time:

I think I joined Instagram in 2012 or 2013. It was okay at the beginning. Then advertisements started to get more and more ubiquitous. Then a more powerful algorithm was introduced and made horrible decisions of what to show me on my timeline. And they introduced Instagram stories. It quickly became very annoying to use the platform and I was getting stressed out by it. As part of my bigger social media declutter project, I deleted my account in 2018.

I don't miss it at all. It was the first big social media service I got rid of. I knew I was addicted to it and that it was negatively affecting my mood. Life went on, I felt less distracted and I was spending less time on my phone. I stopped seeking artificial digital approval from others online. It started my process of slowly distancing myself from all the attention economy based social media.

Post 03/100 of 100DaysToOffload challenge!

#100DaysToOffload #100Days #noisymusings #socialmedia #internet #attentionresistance

Thoughts? Discuss... if you have a account or Reply by email

By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

I’m reading the book “Homo distractus: Fight for your choices and identity in the digital age” by Anastasia Dedyukhina, and I enjoyed the section that discussed our society’s increasing sense of lack of time.

The perception that there’s not enough time to do things comes from the increasing amount of information we have to deal with today. Emails, text messages, news updates, endless social media feeds…etc.

And the apps designed to distribute all this “content” make us believe that it’s important to “share” all this information, as fast as possible, even without truly understanding the message. The author explains:

“Sharing information, encouraged by social media, is another example of how tech design creates the sense of urgency and the lack of time in our minds. The faster we share, the more rewarded we are by getting our likes or shares.” — Homo Distractus, Chapter 4: The Time Crisis

So, it seems social media spaces are now this crazy noisy place, where everybody is shouting something, trying to get attention (rewards), without even knowing what they are shouting about:

“By sharing whatever captures our attention, and not what we know is credible, we just contribute to the overall noise making ourselves and others even more overwhelmed.” — Homo Distractus, Chapter 4: The Time Crisis

And that just creates more noise… it’s overwhelming. It's too scattered, it's too noisy, too random. This “Always Keep Up” method of being online is draining (thanks ~loghead for the term) and I can’t stand it anymore (I’m looking at you, Mastodon!).

#noisymusings #socialmedia #internet #attentionresistance

Thoughts? Discuss... if you have a account or Reply by email

By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

About a year ago I deleted my social media accounts. I thought I had done it long ago. But, no, it’s been a year!

So, what have I learned?

  • The only thing that worked for me to stay away from social media was: total disconnection. Delete them. For real. After I deleted my accounts I thought many times about re-creating them but I also remembered how annoying it was. And how distracted I used to get. So, it was important in the first week to remember WHY I deleted them in the first place.
  • I didn’t need to do this all by myself, relying on my willpower alone (I tried, never worked). I used technology to fight technology. For the first few months, I used the app Freedom on all my devices to create a barrier. And it worked. The secret for me was being able to stay away from social media long enough to get my brain back to a “baseline” with no constant dopamine-induced activities. I started to feel my brain working differently 1-2 months in.
  • I started going out for long walks. Looking back now, it was not an easy time: the COVID-19 pandemic, dead of winter in my region, short days, and freezing temperatures. But it was the only thing I could do to fill in the void. I had to be outside. I learned that snow pants are awesome and that it’s okay to walk around with a headlamp (there are no lights on the pathway by the river, where I used to walk).
  • After deleting social media I still had the urge to scroll something. Anything. I would scroll through my email inbox. But it was finite so sometimes I would open a news portal and just scroll. I was not interested in anything that was there, but I needed to SCROLL. This behavior lasted for some weeks. Then I realized how pointless it was.
  • Sometimes I feel like I want to scroll something, even today. I still use RSS feeds so that became my “scrolling” thing. I paired down my feeds with only a small number of blogs I regularly read. So it’s a manageable list now, I scroll but it’s not an endless pit of junk anymore
  • I now feel repulsed by any website that is too “social-media-like”. Or that has too many ads. I avoid them all.
  • If I have a question about something I’ll go to Wikipedia first to find the answer. I feel like I’m 13 years old again going to the library and opening up an Encyclopedia to search for an answer.
  • I read better. I can read a book non-stop for an hour now. But that happened only recently. It took me months to be able to just sit down and read for more than half an hour without fidgeting or grabbing my phone.
  • I learned that it is important to embrace boredom. The best way to train it for me is to go out for walks, with nothing in my ears. No music. No podcasts. Just my breathing and surrounding sounds.
  • I decreased my podcast consumption. A lot!
  • I learned that I don’t enjoy audiobooks that much. I hear that one of the advantages of audiobooks is that you can read while doing something else. I tend to prefer to do one thing at a time. I can occasionally listen to podcasts while doing the dishes or cleaning the house, for example, but not books, especially if I’m enjoying it. When I’m reading something I need to pay attention and focus and reflect. Audiobooks don’t go at my mind’s speed, I guess.

Some people do a regular “digital detox” for a short or long period of time and then get back to whatever they were avoiding without letting it turn into a compulsive behavior again. Trying to use social media in moderation never worked for me. This technology evolves every day with new ways to hook us up and maybe I don’t have the energy to fight it all the time.

I’m happier now 😎. I love the Internet, but only some (quieter) corners of it.

#socialmedia #attentionresistance #internet #noisymusings

Thoughts? Discuss... if you have a account or Reply by email

By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

It's been a little over a month since I deleted my Facebook and Twitter accounts. At the beginning I went through some weird cravings to check something, anything and: scroll, scroll, scroll! That probably lasted a couple of weeks. I was constantly getting into news websites, checking the weather forecast, checking e-mail... in a rate that was abnormal. Even sites with any addictive features like became an obsession. I realized I was just duplicating a learned behaviour after using the internet for years: scrolling endlessly. If one source was done, I jumped to another, to keep on scrolling. Weird. I think it was a withdrawal reaction. And for the first time I was aware that this scrolling addiction was imprinted in me at a subconscious level.

After the realization something clicked in my head: I just decided that was not a behaviour I wanted to practice anymore. I also observed that my phone was my twitch. It was easy enough to reach out and start some “doom scrolling”. This post “How My Digital Lifestyle is Changing” brings the definition of “doom scrolling” which I found interesting. So, yeah, my digital lifestyle is changing as well.

And every time we stop doing an addictive behaviour we better have a substitute. A more fulfilling one. Cal Newport in his book “Digital Minimalism” says that if we white-knuckle through a “digital declutter” without substituting the old behaviour with a better one, we will go back to the old behaviour. And social media, specifically, are basically a replacement for social interaction. We think it will fulfill our “social bucket” but then we are caught up in its addictive algorithms and the quality social connection we expected is not there. Cal Newport suggests that we need to think about high quality leisure activities to replace the time we would have spent otherwise (like doom scrolling).

For me, reading, writing, long walks with my partner and yoga were my substitutes last month. I fulfilled the social part of the equation by engaging with my city's local science-fiction and fantasy book club. They've been having virtual meet-ups since the pandemic started. I attended one meeting yesterday and had lots of fun! Since I'm an introvert I don't crave a whole lot of social interaction, so that was the perfect cup of tea.

After I felt I was disengaged enough from the scrolling addictive behaviour, I started exploring the Fediverse to see how it was different from the major social media platforms. I have a Mastodon account now. At first I thought I would fall into the same old doom scrolling pattern, but since it's decentralized and it doesn't have the ads/news monetizing cycle, I don't feel the addictive pull. I access it on my own terms and it doesn't create that craving or FOMO feeling for me. I'll keep on experimenting.

I just saw this video today by The Minimalists that I think gets to one of the main issue with social media, and it is by design. Food for thought.

#socialmedia #attentionresistance #internet #noisymusings #deletefacebook #digitalminimalism

Thoughts? Discuss... if you have a account or Reply by email

By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

My process to delete these social media accounts has a timeline. It was not overnight.

Delete Facebook - Jan 10, 2021

Being aware

I've been thinking about the attention economy and social media addiction since at least 2016.

I created my Facebook account in 2009. After Facebook introduced the bottomless scrolling newsfeed with companies advertising inside the platform, I started to get annoyed by it. But at the same time I developed an addiction to it. I remember that feeling of logging in to Facebook and scrolling for a couple hours only to realize it was a waste of time. But everybody I knew was (is) there: high school friends, friends I made at a training course in Sweden, family, co-workers, bloggers, etc. This was before the Cambridge Analytica scandal but I remember seeing those “personality polls” they used to get information. I don't think I ever clicked on those, but they were everywhere.

Trying to remove distractions but still using it

I decided to get rid of Facebook's feed by “unfollowing” everyone I knew. This was before there were plugins or extensions that could hide your entire timeline. Then I used plugins extensively to avoid the feed and all the ads. I was only interested in participating in some Groups that organized local meet-ups, for example. So I used tricks to only see the Groups when I logged in and avoided all the other distracting things on the page.

Long story short, all those strategies weren't getting to the core of the problem. I started to join more groups and I was still checking Facebook every day, several times a day.