A couple years ago I killed my Facebook account and haven’t looked back. I’ve greatly enjoyed having one less web page to check. These days I check comments on the blog, twitter feedback and my e-mail. That’s about it. This frees up space to work on other writing that isn’t instant but takes a year or more, and that’s the world I enjoy most.
I learned a good lesson spring cleaning my house years ago, and I’ve continued to apply it. Whenever I go through the house on a deep clean mission, I place anything I haven’t used in a year in a pile on my bed. Clothes, shoes, electronics, cooking utensils, anything. The first time I did this, I had a valuable pile of perfectly good stuff on my bed. It was hard to do what came next: I gave them all to Goodwill. Yes, I could have sold the stuff in a garage sale, but honestly, the work days lost hosting a garage sale would have cost me, and a few other charities, more than the garage sale would have made. I got rid of all the stuff. I remember holding separate pieces wondering how I was going to live without them, then realizing I’d not used it in a year, I took them away.
Here’s what I found: I didn’t miss anything I gave to Goodwill. Nothing. And my closets were leaner, my space were more organized, and my desk was sparse, save work. My life felt better. As I type, I can’t remember a single thing I threw out.
That said, I used Facebook a lot more than once a month, but the question I ask myself with digital communication is different: Did I or anybody else benefit from this the past year? That’s a harder question to answer. Did anybody benefit from seeing my pictures from that retreat? Maybe. Did I benefit from knowing it was so and so’s birthday, or that so and so was in a relationship? Maybe, but probably not, to be honest. I’d rather find out that so and so was in a relationship when they came through town, stayed in the guest room and we caught up while listening to whatever music we discovered. So I decided Facebook should go.
Twitter, I’ll keep. It’s a great way to keep in touch with people. It keeps us all on the short and genuine. It also takes almost no time away from my work or your work. Comments on the blog, I’m debating. I may take a couple months and disable them to see how it goes. There’s a small community that have found each other through the blog, and I’d not want to see that go, but at the same time, when you are moderating hundreds of questions, it becomes a full time job, and that takes away from the quality of whatever book I’m working on. And for that matter, it takes away from whatever you are working on too.
My question, as a creator, are you benefiting from all the digital media? Are you scared to let it go because you’ll be out of touch? In my opinion, you will gain more creative time by throwing it out than you’ll gain by knowing that your friend Mike is dating some girl he met at Sea World.