Whew! That was quick. It’s already time to report on the first month of my “Healthier Online Diet” project!
So, when I announced this thing, I said that my first decision would be to choose a few ideas each month that I wanted to focus on, and apply that filter to my online time.
You know what? That didn’t work. Overall, the nature of the internet landscape is just too varied and unsorted and rich. Applying these subject-matter filters did help me to avoid some needless link-following, but at the end of the month, I don’t feel like I’ve gained anything much in terms of these key subjects.
I realized that this is because there are essentially two brands of internet-consuming for me:
- Random wandering
- Focused searching
Anytime I want to know more about sewing clothes or plastic canvas, all I have to do is turn to Google. But honestly, that’s best done when I have a specific question to answer, like “how do I build my own dressmaker’s dummy?” or “who is building space-vehicle models from plastic canvas?”
The focused searching, I realized, isn’t my problem in terms of creating a healthier online diet. It’s the random stuff that feeds into my consciousness from Twitter that consumes time and overstuffs my brain. If I want to enjoy the community and conversation on Twitter, I have to find a way to cope.
So, I gave myself permission to follow waaaaaay fewer links this month, and that was helpful. I know so many people on Twitter at this point who share tons of links all day long, but there’s no way I can provide everyone with clicks and reactions. So instead, I followed only those links where the tweeter gave me enough understanding of why I’d find the link valuable. That helped – I gained some time and brainspace, and I saw more that was genuinely interesting to me.
…And also interestingly, I discovered that it really is true that anything I truly need to see will find its way to me. I saw links to Alex Gross blow through my Twitter feed yesterday, but wasn’t compelled to click. And this morning, K turned to me and said, “Hey, have you seen this guy who turns old photographs into superhero portraits?” Turns out, I’m glad I did.
I also stayed away from Pinterest this month, and you know what? That was kind of wonderful. For one thing, the problem of bad attribution over there seems to be growing worse and worse, and repinning so often becomes a ridiculous hunt for the original creator’s link. It just frustrates me too much.
Not only that, I realized that I’ve been staring at that endless stream of images as a means of distraction. I don’t think these images help me toward being a better or more original designer. I think they just overstuff my head with pictures. Staying out of that stream has definitely helped me think more deeply about my own projects in progress.
Image by blmurch, via Flickr
In future, I’ll just apply that “focused searching” mode to Pinterest as well. When I have a specific project happening and need visual references, there’s a search box that will deliver what’s relevant to my needs.
Perhaps we’re making some big assumptions that these socially-based tools require our constant presence, when in fact we can really just swoop in and use them as tools when we actually need them. What do you think?
Image by redstamp, via Flickr
For next month…
So, what info-health change will I make in February? I want to put some focus to blogs – the number of them I read, why I read them, and how I approach that reading. I feel like the state of general online overload has us poised for another big evolution in how blogging fits into our lives.
I’ll report back here! Thank you for witnessing this project. Your presence makes a hige difference.