Today was a good day, as one of the projects I started at Halloween 2014 has come to an end; I have finally tracked down every account I can find or remember, and deleted nearly all of them. Though that’s with the glaring exception of half-a-dozen blogs that I still don’t know what to do with, apart from some vague idea about writing more or generally adding to.
Thus, a nice walk concluded the day, the pictures of which are scattered within this post.
Those accounts numbered in the hundreds in the end. Social media of a wide variety stretching over years; online shopping; forum and newspaper commenting; academic, public and private business websites. So many. And most of them now gone (with the precaution of deleting or changing my details within and changing the associated email address to a throwaway account). It’s good now that when there’s a news story about accounts or passwords being stolen on some service, it rarely applies to me anymore, and I have a much, much smaller number of services to regularly change my password on.
Heck, I’ve even quit MetaFilter so the community there will have to figure out US election posts for the next five months without my long-form attempts. The list of accounts on various social media, financial, work, forums, mailing lists and other websites now easily fits on one side of paper.
Thus, apart from that annoying blog problem, the online life is a lot simpler. And speaking of blogs and associated posts, I have a folder of drafts, near-finished, half-finished, sane ideas, stupid ideas and other notes for posts which I’m tired of looking at. So, that’s one reason I’ve decided to (where practical) limit online activities to work-related things for a while; I’ve reached a never-ending point of editing, re-editing, but never hitting “Publish”, as the days go by. Alas (or perhaps relief), the epic post I’ve been promising on online medical record data, how superb the NHS is, and which is less/more uncomfortable of a endoscopy/colonoscopy (spoiler: the latter is fine, but the former is like swallowing a greased hosepipe), will have to wait for another day (or, year).
There’s other reasons to “cut back on the online”. The days (as in “sun” and “light”) are long here and in the here and now, and I’d rather, to be blunt, spend as much time outside than inside staring at a screen and banging on a keyboard as I’ve done for much of the last quarter of a century. Also, a piece of work I’m currently doing has some strict confidentiality clauses in it (there are understandable reasons for that; it isn’t a complaint), and I’ve already nearly accidentally tweeted things which would have caused severe problems.
And speaking of twitter, my eternal love-hate relationship with it continues. As a social “glue” it’s great, unbeatable in form and ease. And some of the funnies on it are funny, and DMs are often the best way of communicating with some people. But, my God, it’s still and probably forever will be a place to amplify outrage, relentlessly, about every bad thing that people are doing in the world. This is not healthy and I’ve repeatedly fallen into the “LOOK AT THIS BAD THING LOOK AT IT” retweeting cycle myself.
At the moment, with the EU referendum (especially), the unusual US election, and all manner of other things going on the world of a negative nature, social media and Twitter in particular are often not great places to be, unless you thrive on the outrage. I did once – I lived for it – but I don’t now. Life is short, and trees are more satisfying to look at than the violence of failed humanity. Heck, I thought 2014 was bad on news and social media, but since then…worse.
Oh, and mailing lists. Yeah. Nope. It’s a blue sky outside, with a vitamin-D enabling sun, and those trees, flowers and fields. Much healthier to encounter these than the latest whine/rant on certain mailing lists that could be mentioned (#NotAllLists, I know, don’t get huffy).
On the positive side, I’ve figured out some realistic long-term aims of late. I’d rather crack on with moving towards them, rather than being distracted because I’m too easily distracted by certain aspects of the online life.
And a final reason for easing off the social media, is having unwanted knowledge about a few specific funding-related things. Ignorance can, sometimes, be bliss. Again, I’d rather not accidentally tweet or write or whatever something that shouldn’t come from me, especially when it affects friends and colleagues. That never ends well.
Work is work though, and social media, the Internet, websites, and even a few specific mailing lists are unavoidable because of work needs. So I’m not totally disappearing from the net; that would be impractical. Anyway, amongst other unavoidable online activities, I need to rebuild my work website which has dated quickly, taking into account some changes in focus.
I daresay I’ll break and come back every now and then for a minute or two to catch up, like having your nose against the window of a house where’s a nice party going on inside. I am human, and therefore weak.
But no idea when I’ll be back fully on regular social media – perhaps at the end of summer in the longer sense of the word summer – nor where I’ll be in “real life” when this happens. Who cares anyway; it’s just letters and other characters on a screen, no more than that. Get outside and enjoy your summer, northern hemisphere folk, while you can :)