Leaving the Internet: Part 1: Life is Grey

So recently I’ve been railing pretty hard against social media, mainly on social media, an irony that does not completely escape me, and I would like to take a little time here on my blog to explain why. Plus my website could use a new post. How long has it been since the last one? Fuck I’m bad at blogging...

First I do want to say that this departure from both social and news media did not come about due to a “New Years Resolution”. For one I don’t really believe in making “resolutions” around the date we arbitrarily picked for being the “New Year”. Secondly due to the subject matter of this blog post I feel that honesty is not only appropriate but also incredibly necessary. 

Around the start of the New Year I was feeling slightly bored with my current rotation of podcasts to listen to during my daily grind, and decided to try a few that had been sitting on my device but hadn’t yet been called up to the main playlist. I use Overcast for those who are interested and I would highly recommend it for podcast listening purposes. So as I flick and scroll around my little list of “subscriptions” I see two podcasts hosted by this YouTuber I follow named CGP Grey. He mainly posts educational videos explaining odd and often complicated subjects like what exactly counts as the UK or how specifically could you become the pope, or my personal favorite “Humans Need Not Apply”, a particularly sobering video about how no job is safe from the robots.

Well I throw his two podcasts up on my main playlist and because it’s partially ordered by date I start his first podcast Hello Internet. Fitting neatly into the “two dudes talking” genre (their words), Grey and his friend and fellow YouTuber Brady Haran talk about whatever weird thing that is on their minds this week. It’s a fun show, and I enjoyed Grey’s often robotic nature since I am also slightly utilitarian in how I live certain parts of my life and I also feel more comfortable dealing with cold hard robots than soft squishy humans in day to day activities. It’s a good show and I would definitely recommend it to most people looking for a new podcast. But it’s the second show that really changed my outlook on social media.

Cortex is hosted by Grey, you know him by now, and Mike Hurley, and listening to this show has honestly changed my life. The show, although can drift towards “two dudes talking”, is about two self employed creative professionals OVER-examining their creative processes, both trying to figure out why they do the things they do, and often looking for better ways to do those things. A large chunk of the first episode is just talking about how they lay out their iPhone home screens. So yea, they go pretty in depth.

A big arc, if non-fiction podcasts can have arcs, in the first few episodes that I’ve listened to (19 by time of writing, 28 by the time of editing) Grey has been talking about trying to deal with “information overload” and trying to unplug. Even at the start of the series he advised against having Facebook and Twitter on your phone at all, and was trying to figure out how to reduce things even from there, claiming that he truly wanted to just go live in a cabin for a month with a bunch of books on his iPad and no true connection to the outside world.

Now I’m not gonna go that far, after all just over a month ago I had Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr, and a few other social media apps on my phone, but honestly with the help of Cortex and Grey I’ve made some not insignificant changes to how I go about my daily life. And I’ve started noticing some new results from these changes, all for the positive. I’m feeling less anxious, I’m able to sit calmly without fidgeting with my phone, I’ve been reading more and with deeper attention, I’ve felt more present in social situations, and I’ve done all of this without chucking my phone away and going full Luddite. And I will explain all of this to you next time!