Self-Improvement

Cutting out the sugar

Lately I’ve noticed that I spend a lot of times doing things that don’t benefit me and that I don’t actually get any entertainment out of. I’m talking about social media, some tv shows, and most games I play. I do many of these things not because they’re fun, productive, or educational, but because they’re in front of me and my brain wants some sort of instant satisfaction. Twelve seconds later it will be completely unsatisfied again.

Today, that changes.

The TL;DR of the changes:

  • Facebook – Effectively, I’m no longer on facebook.
  • Twitter – I’m no longer on twitter.
  • Reddit – Tinker with subscriptions, no mobile access anymore
  • Google Hangouts / Chat – No noticeable changes
  • Gaming / Steam / Origin – I’ll be online a lot less, but probably just as up for social games

Below the fold is a more detailed discussion that I recommend only for those that are truly curious as to some of my reasoning:

Facebook – Closing the book and setting it on fire

I haven’t actually deleted my account (I love mousehunt a little too much for that), but I have turned of all email notifications and deleted the app from my phone. If you invite me to an event or message me on facebook, don’t expect a response – I’ll never see it.

In a few weeks, I might take the time to go through and delete everyone who doesn’t also play mousehunt from my friends list and delete what scant information was still there. I really wish mousehunt had a no-facebook option…

Twitter – Tweety Bird has passed away

Again, I’ll not be deleting my account. I might come back to Twitter some time. I did love the sense of community I once got there. But of late it’s become at best a pointless time waster and, at worst, a major source of anger and frustration. There’s so much vitriol and hatred expressed by the people I follow. So much cynicism and bitterness at society in general and particular politicians. It’s not been a fun place for me the past few weeks. I’ve turned off all email notifications and deleted the app from my phone.

Reddit – The Narwhal Bacons Slightly Less Regularly

Reddit is trickier. I find it really useful for some things. The /r/worldbuilding and various writing-themed subreddits are a source of motivation and, occasionally, good advice. The dog subs are useful for helping keep me on track training my pup. The programming subs are fantastic for keeping me abreast of news in my profession and keeping me motivated for my personal coding projects.

But, there are also a bunch of subs I follow that just throw out mindless fluff or simply rehash the same material over and over and over. So, I’m culling the list of subreddits I subscribe to and have deleted the reddit app from my phone. If I’ve got time to be looking at reddit on my phone, then I’d rather spend that time reading or practising French with Duolingo.

An additional change I made – that has had a noticeable impact in just a few hours – is to turn off RES’ Never Ending Reddit functionality. Having to click to go to the next page is making a fantastic difference on limiting the amount of time I spend mindlessly perusing reddit.

Google Hangouts / Chat – Basically the same

I’ve left my phone signed out of Google Hangouts for the past couple of weeks. I don’t think anyone noticed. I’ll still be around when I’m in front of a pc, but my response times might be a little slower than traditionally.

I doubt anyone will notice a change here. Generally, I didn’t notice messages when I was out-and-about anyway. Probably the biggest difference will be chatting during Friday Night Drinks.

Games – Playing Less but Better

I’ve changed Steam and Origin to not boot with windows. I’ve deleted every game from my phone and uninstalled most of my games in Steam / Origin. I realised that there are three main reasons I play games. From most common to least common reason:

  1. I’m not sure what else to do with my time and can’t be arsed starting something that will require a bit of effort even though I’ll really enjoy doing it.
  2. Friends want to play the game with me
  3. I think the game will be fun

Reason #1 is likely >50% of the time I’ve spent playing games in the past year. Which is a daft-as-fuck reason to be playing games. I’m hoping that making me load steam up and having a narrower selection of games to play will help remind me to do stuff I’ll actually enjoy, rather than just mindlessly passing the time.

Reasons #2 and #3 are perfectly fine and I’m happy to keep playing games under those situations. Though, to be honest, most of the time I play for friends, I’m not having masses of fun. I’d rather just catch up with them over a beer and some cheese. But  that’s a change for another day.

For those of you who play mousehunt – that’s not going anywhere. I love that game and am unconcerned about the tiny amount of time it takes. Plus, how else would I keep my stats knowledge vaguely fresh?

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