Killing my social media addiction

Kitze
Kitze
Dec 2, 2019 · 12 min read

Hey friends 👋

Our social media habits are getting out of control, and we need to talk about it, so let’s cut to the chase.

tl;dr Block Twitter, have a dedicated work computer, download Twizzle.

But please read on, because it’s not that simple.

“A man staring sadly at the achievements of his friends” (Unsplash)

Quitting social media

A few years ago I deleted my Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and LinkedIn accounts, in an attempt to do a digital declutter. It’s going well so far. Yes, you can tell yourself stories about how you still have Facebook because you want to “connect” with people, but you know damn well that you have chat groups for your close family members and friends, so what’s the fucking point of still connecting with Becky from high school when you hated her anyway? I reached my 5000 friends limit when I had Facebook, and in reality, I had around 3 friends in total. At that point, I was just using it as a habit, and any habit that’s wasting my time without adding any value needed to die.

Oh, and by the way, just a minor thing, social media can cause anxiety, depression, and induce massive FOMO. No big deal, right?

You don’t need to be a scientist to figure this out. I didn’t have a problem with it, but a lot of people do. After all, we’re all human, and when you’re in a bad mood or you’re going through a rough patch, the last thing you need is to refresh a feed and see Becky “enjoying life” while remote working near a pool and sipping on a margarita. Even if you had the power to see through people’s bullshit on social media, seeing a couple of happy posts is enough to take you in a downward spiral.

I didn’t particularly struggle with this, because after years of listening to Gary Vee I’m finally fine with the fact that I’m not in a race with anyone, and I’m running my own marathon. Things that would make other people happy won’t make me happy. A lot of people fail to realize this, and they think that if they just acquire that one last thing that a social media influencer has, they’ll finally be happy. Bull — shit.

All of this applies to Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram. But what about LinkedIn? “I’m there FOR WORK”. Really? Are you? Clicking accept on every connection request, endorsing your friend’s CSS skills (when you know god damn well they suck at it) and reading motivational posts from fakepreneurs is NOT WORK. I finally got tired of all the recruiter requests and moved on.

You don’t need email notifications

Wait, before I talk about this, I’m not even gonna go deep about regular app notifications. If you don’t have 99% of your notifications disabled you’re out of your mind. You’re training your brain Pavlov-style and it’s just gonna get worse. Just having them on makes you more anxious and unfocused, even if they’re not arriving. You don’t need pings and dings every time someone from your friend circle farts, so get rid of most notifications immediately.

But yeah, let’s talk about email.

Most emails that we receive are absolute bullshit. Seriously. You can add a filter called Thanos that will erase 50% of your emails every day and you still won’t miss anything. I unsubscribed from every newsletter because just like you, I was archiving all of them and was telling myself that I’m gonna eventually read them and they’re useful. I didn’t read shit. Around one year ago I disabled all of my email notifications. Yes, literally all of them. On mobile and on desktop. I’m currently running two businesses that depend on email, and I never had a problem. The key is to schedule a time in the day to do email, and then forget about it until the next day. The best thing about this is by the next day people find a solution for the thing that they’re bugging you, so usually they’ll reply with “nvm I fixed it by myself”. NICE! If you really, really, really handle a LOT of emails you can schedule a few fixed times in the day to handle them. But in most cases, you cannot do anything about the email that you received. It’s just gonna make you more anxious about the task that you’re working on. And trust me, if something is really urgent people will find a way to reach out.

You don’t want to interrupt your date just because some fucking asshole had to tell you about the latest features in their app.

The elephant in the room

As you can notice, so far I didn’t mention one other social network, the most important one.

Twitter. Fucking Twitter.

That’s what the article is about. I didn’t have a problem with deleting any of the other apps, but this one is not going anywhere. It sucks you in and it tricks you that you’re actually learning and staying “on top of things”.

Actually, if you have Twitter, and you made it this far in the article, you’re a frickin’ miracle. Reading long forms of text means that you still have some concentration and willpower, and that’s a frickin’ superpower in 2019.

So, why are we so in love with Twitter?

Because it’s easy. It’s light. It’s fun. Unlike books, articles, and longer forms of text, it takes a few seconds to read a tweet and move on to the next one. It’s hard to start a fucking book. It takes a few seconds to write a shitpost which will instantly get 10 likes. It’s hard to write a fucking book.

And guess what, our dumb brain (the one who’s ironically writing this post) likes easy shit. It likes the dopamine rush from strangers liking your hot take on the latest programming framework. It likes sharing every single shitty achievement even tho it doesn’t matter in the long run.

When we get the thought of doing something harder this is the conversation with our brain:

Me: hey, I’m gonna write an article or start a big project

Brain: hey there buddy why would you do that it’s a lot of work, let’s take a breath and chill for a second, huh?

Me: yeah I know but after all of that work it’s all gonna be wort-

Brain: NONONONOnono that’s gonna take hours, weeks, MONTHS!!! It’s waaay too much time and effort for me to wait for my dopamine rush. Fuck that, and write a tweet. I need some dopamine rush now.

Me: but I don’t have anything valuable to say, and

Brain: SAY. SOMETHING. DOPAMINE. NOW.

Me: geez, fine…

*opens twitter*

lmao thanksgiving turkey is so overrated, am i rite guise??

Brain: Perfect. Now let’s refresh the notifications tab for 20 minutes and enjoy every Like. Every. Single. One of them. Isn’t this fun?

Me: Yeah… I guess… Oh also there are some new memes, let’s read them

Brain: BOOM. TOLD YA. TWITTER BABY. FUCK WORK.


Does this sound familiar? Yes, it does. Let’s find a way to stop it.

Twitter Addiction

My absolutely favorite thing in the world is people who say they don’t have a Twitter addiction and are spending more than 5 hours on Twitter. It’s like smoking 7 packs of cigarettes a day and saying DON’T WORRY, I’M FINE, I CAN QUIT ANYTIME. But, take away someone’s phone for a few hours and you’ll see a crazy addict begging you to refresh the timeline one last time.

Let’s see the definition of addiction:

The fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance or activity.

Yup, that describes it perfectly. And just like any other addiction, there are steps that you can take:


Your phone should be a phone

I got rid of Twitter on my phone for a few months now. The first few weeks were HELL. There was a lot of installing, uninstalling, using apps for time limiting, etc.

“BUT WHAT AM I GONNA DO DURING MY MORNING POOP, I NEED IT!!!11”

— yours truly

You’re trying to tell yourself stories that you need it for marketing, that it’s for work, that you’re learning the latest things about JavaScript, that people depend on you, that you thought of the funniest Baby Yoda meme, blah blah blah. And you know what, that might be true. I’m learning a lot on Twitter. It brings me a lot of value. I have a big audience that I can talk to about anything. That’s why I still have it. But, it doesn’t have to be with me all the time in order to get the value of it. Something, something, Pareto principle.

Twitter doesn’t have a place on your phone, because your phone is always with you, and Twitter is always going to win over anything else you need to do. Even if you install Duolingo, Pocket, Kindle, Sudoku, and 349 other smart apps, your brain just wants the easiest and laziest thing that it can do at any given moment. Twitter.

*Unlocks phone to see the time* — Oh let’s check witter*

Every. Fucking. Time.

I forgot what it’s like to be bored. To have to wait for something for a few minutes without doing anything. I was eating lunch with my girlfriend and reading tweets. I was reading tweets before sleep. I was reading tweets in the morning. We were watching a movie and I would pick my phone during boring scenes. I was walking my dog and reading tweets. What the fuck past-Kitze you goddamn idiot.

If you’re like this, don’t blame yourself because the problem is simple.

It’s not you, it’s your phone

Your phone is always around you because Twitter makes it fun, and you want your phone around you because it has Twitter on it. It’s a shitty cycle that you must break out of. Now, when I don’t have Twitter I’m using my phone as a utility device. Call an Uber, open Google Maps, get Calendar notifications and reminders, text my family from time to time, make a call, order Pizza. That’s it. I’m not gonna be one of those fucking hipsters who abandons modern smartphones for a Nokia 3310, because there are a lot of useful apps that can help and improve your everyday life. I also started relying more and more on my Apple Watch, so for most activities (music, gym, running, errands, etc.) I don’t even carry a phone. For the bigger part of my day, I don’t even know where my phone is. My battery lasts 2 to 3 days. It’s fucking amazing.

After getting used to it, this is the most liberating feeling ever. You’re FREE. You’re a human being. You have your own thoughts. People don’t need to know fucking everything about you, and you don’t need to know everything about them. You can be bored from time to time, and that’s FINE.

A work-computer

Think of every person in the past who created anything meaningful. Just imagine their work environment. When I think of Beethoven, Tesla, Einstein I just imagine a peaceful office with tons of papers, and them being hunched over a desk working without interruption for hours.

Bam. Electricity bitches.

But just go to any library or coworking space and you’ll see that most people cannot hold their concentration for more than 10 minutes. It’s crazy. We shouldn't blame them, because all the inventors and creators in the past didn’t have the internet to interrupt their work with pings and dings. If Beethoven had a Twitter account he wouldn’t do shit. Maybe he would’ve switched to trap music because it was trending and his compositions didn’t get enough views or something. I bet that when Alexander Graham Bell invented the phone, just 3 days later he said “OH FUCK OH NO WHAT HAVE I DONE” when his wife interrupted him 7 times to call him and ask shit about lunch.

So yes, not only that you need a quiet space, office, corner, whatever. The computer that you’re using needs to be a work computer.

Recently, I blocked Twitter (along with Amazon, Reddit, News, YouTube, lyrics, shopping websites, etc.) on my work computer because I wanted it to be a work computer.

Even without notifications on, my work was constantly getting interrupted by silly things.

  • *sigh* I’m making slow progress on my app so let’s see the price on that rice cooker
  • This bug is driving me crazy, let’s open a new tab and read the reviews on that book now.
  • I need to finish this by tonight. Oh wait, there’s a new trailer for Frozen 2.

Constant. Interruptions.

Any time I would stumble upon a tiny problem, I wanted to escape and do something else for a while.

Even checking the lyrics of a song can take you down a rabbit hole of “oh let’s google what’s up with Kanye, why did he say that line” and 5 hours later you’re an expert on the life of the Kardashians and your presentation is not done.

I’ll write a less-geeky tutorial later, but the tl;dr is you need to block every distracting website in your /etc/hosts file, make it append-only using the “chflags” command. Then alias the “chflags” to “sleep 60; chflags” so if you want to revert a change in your /etc/hosts you would need to wait 60 seconds. Then you need to make your .bashrc or .zshrc unmodifyable by running “chflags” on it. You’ll have 60 seconds to change your alias comand to 18000 seconds instead of 60 seconds. Now every time you want to revert a change in /etc/hosts you need to wait 5 hours. You’ll forget about it eventually.

At this point, you’re like “Jesus Christ you really had a problem, didn’t you”. Well, guess what buddy?! You have one too. You’re not using your work computer as a work computer and you cannot get shit done. What I’m not saying is to quit every possible way of entertainment and just do work 24/7.

What I’m saying is you shouldn’t do work and entertainment on the same device. And no, blocking entertainment on the same computer for certain hours of the day isn’t enough for our dumb brain. It needs to understand that

> this. is. a. work. machine. No. you. cannot. open. Reddit. on. it. EVER.

Then work gets easier.

Your entertainment device

Please don’t tell me that you don’t have money for it because even the shittiest tablet/phone/laptop will do the job. The purpose of this device is to install anything that you want on it, and anytime you pick it up, you know that it’s for entertainment only. Not for work. You have a work computer for work. Watch YouTube, scroll Twitter, study lyrics, spend 4 hours on Joker memes on Reddit, I don’t care. When you pick up this device, you pick it up with the purpose of entertaining yourself. You can schedule a time block for entertainment and do whatever you want during that time. But you’re not mixing work and fun. When you mix work and fun you’re not gonna finish your work, and then at the end of the day you’re gonna say “I don’t have time for movies/games/shows”.

You cannot trust yourself

I’m using a tablet as my entertainment device, but I still have time limits to most of the apps because I want to use them, but I don’t want them to take my entire day. But, because I absolutely went over the time limit every single day, I just allowed myself 15 more minutes, then 15 more, then an hour, and then I would unblock the app because my douchebag brain wants the easy win.

So what I did is I told my girlfriend to set a password for me, so after passing the time limit I cannot do anything about it. At first, I fussed and cursed and bitched and complained and I needed that goddamn password, but after a while, I got used to it and I accepted the fact that the limit is for my own good.

Finding the sweet spot

I meant to write a short article to introduce Twizzle, and yet, 13048138 words later — here we are. I had to properly explain why I made this app.

I still rely on Twitter for work. All of my promotions are happening there. My audience, friends, and contacts are invaluable. From time to time I need to send a tweet or a message. Usually, these messages are related to work.

I wanted to do all of this without getting distracted by everything else on twitter.com, so I made Twizzle. It allows me to send and receive direct messages, and send a tweet from the menu bar. So after having a dumb thought I can just click the compose icon in the menu bar, send the tweet, and move on with my work instead of checking the replies and notifications.

I’ll admit, I selfishly wrote this app for me. To help my problem. So I made it macOS only, and after a while, I made it paid.

Now I realized that people are really struggling with this problem, and I want to help everyone. So I made the app completely free and available on all platforms: Linux, Windows, macOS. It doesn’t have any ads, tracking, or similar bullshit. It’s basically a modified version of the mobile twitter website. Actually, I also open-sourced it so you can check out the source and contribute here.

I’m sorry if this article was too long, but I had these thoughts for a really long time. And a lot of people were asking me on Twitter about this, and they wanted to use my methods. I’m not saying that I’m perfect, I’m still struggling with all of this, but I’m making conscious progress every day to improve my situation. I really hope that what I was talking about in the article resonated with you and you will take a step for yourself. I’d love to discuss this with you (on your entertainment device, within your scheduled time heh) on Twitter, so feel free to ask me anything.

Once you win your willpower, focus, and concentration back — your creativity will be limitless.

Good luck!

Kitze

Written by

Kitze

Maker 🌐 http://kitze.io

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