This summer, just before I headed out on my vacation, I finally hit bottom. My digital life was out of control, and I was powerless over my my RSS’s, my API’s, Yammers, Twitters and the rest of my life stream. The initial high that came from registering for yet another microblogging site, bookmark sharing tool, project management application, or music community was replaced with the sense that none of this was really contributing much to the kind of thinking and writing I really wanted to be doing. It was distracting, and the bit of an ego boost that comes when someone comments on my uncanny ability to be aware of the newest Web 2.0 application wears off pretty quickly. (I suspect that many of the folks making those comments really thought that it’s pretty pathetic that someone at my age was still trying to figure out whether Pandora or Last.FM was the best way to explore new music.)
The first (and easiest) step in digital rehab was to disable my FaceBook account. My small community was a attractive distraction late in the afternoon when I didn’t feel like working, but it was hard for me to move beyond fascination. Outside of a small circle of professional colleagues that I know pretty well, I never did get comfortable with merging the personal and social so tightly. The group of folks who were interested in my son’s wedding pictures and the progress on my kitchen renovation weren’t very interested in the travails of finding the right support model for online research.
Unlike some other social networking sites, Facebook is pretty easy to escape from right now, with clear instructions on how to disable the account. I officially killed the account on Sunday, and even that little step has given me a new sense of freedom. I’m also finding a bit of an anti-Facebook community–including even tech professor and guru Mark Hofer has joined the community of former Facebookers.
It will be interesting to see how bad the withdrawal becomes and how I’m able to keep connections with some key folks for whom FB really has become a key communications tool.