July 11, 2014


Like all vices, it started out small and innocently. I followed a blogger on Twitter so that I could enter a giveaway. Then I did it again. And again. After a few months, I graduated to following new blogs-- maybe someone who was mentioned in a sponsor post, or someone who wrote one great post on some random topic that seemed So Very Important at the moment. 

I'm discovering great new people, I cheerfully thought to myself. This is great!

But then, as all vices do, it started to turn sour. That great new blogger? Yeah, she turned out to annoy the heck out of me. You know the kind-- the complainer, the one who finds something negative to write about in every single post, the one who declares every other day to be drama-free... only to then pepper her next post with passive-aggressive comments about the latest villain in her life. And that new person on Twitter? Her tweets were filled with random sponsor-fueled content that did not reflect anything relevant in my life, or maybe they were just the neutral kind of tweets that my eyes barely flickered over as I scrolled down the feed.

It got to the point where it felt like my online mind was becoming cluttered with people who I did not particularly enjoy and sometimes even suspected I strongly disliked. It was stressful, and it was making me unhappy. I shouldn't dread reading a blog that I willingly follow. Then I realized what should have been obvious from the beginning: I do not need to invite unpleasantness into my life. What's more, by decreasing my contact with people who do not contribute anything meaningful to my life, I will increase my contact with those who bring a smile to my face and make me feel at peace.

So I started to do just that. When I went on hiatus this spring, it was with the intention of focusing on what was most important: my academic career and the completion of my dissertation. What I didn't expect to happen was a more clearly-focused view on clearing out the unnecessary clutter that I had brought into my own life. With my renewed resolve to prioritize, not only did I create an effective work schedule for myself, I also started unfollowing people on Twitter and unfollowing blogs that either upset me, bored me, or simply did not resonate with me. And it was wonderful.

I don't write this to be catty or malicious or flippant. There is enough of that on the internet, and I do not want to contribute to that. I'm writing this because I reached the point of needing to simplify my life. I had had enough. For me, social media should be fun, not draining. Can we control everything in our lives that has the potential to be depleting? Absolutely not. But when we do have the ability to decrease those kinds of activities and situations, we should use our power and do just that. 

I'm sure that there will be moments when I fall into the trap again. But knowing how freeing it is to voluntarily fill my feeds only with content that inspires, motivates, challenges (but doesn't offend), and restores me, I hope that I will soon remember how essential it is to simplify.

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