Sorry. I know there’s a war on. Why even write about this? I think it matters, perhaps even more, given the way social media has helped Putin build a case for his war. What can I do about the war? Well, I don’t know. Beyond try to help my friends in Ukraine (not much I can do there) and donate to a few charities as I’ve done. I really don’t know. (Buy some games for charity? ) But I’ve found the war, and trying to follow the news about it has seriously messed with my mental health.
Feeling the stress of it, I reached for a book – Hari’s ‘Stolen Focus‘, that my pal Jack highly recommended and then bought for me (thanks, Jack!) It’s inspired me to do a few things:
1. Limit my exposure to news and social media
The only social app I use regularly now is Twitter. I’ve often found it fun and easy, but lately my relationship with the app has become uncomfortable. Just like in the run up to Trump’s election in 2016, since the Ukraine invasion I found myself on Twitter way too much. Spending hours reading threads, trying to make sense of this awful war. So – I’ve blocked it off using Freedom app, throughout most of the working day. An hour or so free at the top and tail in case I want to check in or post something. The rest of the time (if I really feel the need) I’ll post via Buffer, or just write something here.
Turning off Twitter I found myself looking at news sites more often straight away! So I’ve blocked them throughout the day too. After all, it’s well known that too much news (especially rolling updates) can mess with your mental health.
I still have accounts on Zuckerberg’s various fiefdoms. I basically only use Instagram these days, and probably go there about once a week to post something. I keep two accounts – one for design / reading, another for art / music. Don’t like it, don’t feel happy using it, but it’s where everyone is so whaddya do? Post more here I guess. Start a blog on my art site too perhaps. Which leads nicely to:
2. Own my stuff
With a hat tip to the brilliant Cory Doctorow – (who blogs incessantly, then posts everything in threads to everywhere else). Seth Godin (who blogs every day forever), I’m going to make a conscious effort to post more here and less on ‘socials’. I’ll still link things out to socials (and I’ll try this new tool from WordPress), but I want to make sure I’m building my own legacy, not Zuckerberg’s or Dorsey’s. At least, to the extent I can.
Reading Hari’s book, it’s painful to learn (again!) how damaging our neo-feudal overlords are (I dare you to listen to Varoufakis on this). The caustic influence their companies are having on society is more obvious every day. I can’t do much to fight them given my current commitments, but I’ll do my damnedest to make sure I have a place to write that’s at least partly outside their influence.
I’d be interested to hear how you’re coping with the media landscape right now. What’s working for you?