I used to enjoy social media. I followed people who had the same interests as me, learned a lot from them, met some of them, and yes, even made a lot of friends. Some of them lifelong amazing friends :) My career grew, in part, because of Twitter.

But over the past year, something bad has happened. The negative voices have been amplified to the extent that I cannot handle in a healthy way any more. Every time I go on Twitter, I read something awful. Now things that other people just liked from people I do not follow show up in my feed.

Unfortunately, Twitter has not added tools to filter this properly. Sure - I can mute an account here and there, but this doesn’t help remove things I do not want to see unless I keep working super hard to block every single new bad thing that comes up.

Instagram might be the last social network that I really enjoyed using. The content is generally positive and makes me happy. But Instagram sold to Facebook, and now the bad stuff is being added - the low quality ads. Now, every time I go on Instagram, I see another ad about how women should hate their bodies, and it makes me sick. They’ve also modified their feed to show you the most “relevant” content, so I miss the things I really care about - posts from my friends who might not get that many likes.

Every time I go on these sites, which could be several times a day, I come out with a negative feeling - sometimes serious anger and distress. These negative feelings take over me and seriously effect me in my well-being and work. They’re all noise. Really bad-for-me noise.

Needless to say, 2017 hasn’t been a truly great year for me. But I can only blame myself for continuing to fall into the noise when I knew better. The noise is so loud, with so many voices, I do not know what my own voice is saying anymore.

So for 2018, my goal is to hear my own voice. I’ve already taken several steps to doing so:

  • I deleted Twitter from my phone - only leaving a few apps including Buffer to post tweets and TwIM to continue messaging my friends.

  • I have sadly deleted the Instagram app. One of the big things I realized is that I used Instagram as sort of a short-term diary. To post my first impressions of travel. Of course I planned to write a longer blog post about each picture later, but I never did. Instead of using Instagram as a crutch, I will write those blog posts now. In fact, I plan to go back and try to write blog posts I meant to write in 2017. Instagram is not enough as my travel diary. And, even worse, it is now owned by Facebook. It is time for me to own my own content.

  • I re-installed and started using Self Control on my computer again to block Twitter, Facebook, Netflix, and any other apps that take away my concentration.

  • I disabled notifications for apps that are not urgent, including Gmail. A few months ago, I had an amazing time in a hot spring in Thailand, and I was happy. But then I got an email notification that made me upset. It wasn’t urgent or anything. I could have waited to see the email until later and stayed happy longer, but because of the notification, I did not. Nothing I get on email is urgent. I will respond when I have the time. It shouldn’t control me. I should control it.

  • I took a completely off-the-grid Vipassana Meditation Course a few weeks ago to help restrain me from my dependence on my devices. I have continued to meditate for at least an hour each day (for the most part), and I plan to continue doing so. I have already started to notice a slight difference. Better focus. Better work. Less anxiety.

  • I stopped listening to Music. Music has been my way to drown out everything. To take away the pain of loudness in an airport, for example. I used to have my AirPods on ALL THE TIME! But I’ve realized it’s also been a way for me to be NOT PRESENT. Instead, I’m trying to use the Vipassana Meditation techniques to get through those type of moments. To observe them, to observe their affect on me, and to learn to be present in them, despite the annoyance.

  • TODO: I need to stop watching Netflix… Still on it. It’s a weakness…

I’m still working on all of it, but I’m excited as I’m starting to see results. The voice that’s inside me is finally having enough space to start speaking… and I can almost hear it.