Thursday, December 29, 2016

360. Inputs

During the “WHY-SKYS” retreat at Saint John’s, a friend of mine mentioned that he had tried to reduce the “inputs” in his life. That meant deleting his Facebook account, reducing his time on other social media platforms, and shutting off digital communications for periods of a time. He’s still a busy guy with an active life. He just seems like a guy who’s far less concerned with the digital ebbs and flows of daily life. I think he has a point.

I follow over 1600 people on Twitter. I know that’s far fewer than most people. I would say that maybe 10 percent of those are friends or family. Another 10 percent are sports/news accounts. There are a few accounts I follow for work. There are less than 50 personalities/journalists/celebrities that I actually enjoy following.

Rather, I seek out their accounts when I’m looking for perspective on different things. So that leaves well over half the accounts without a clear reason why I’m following them. Those are all inputs of people I don’t know and probably don’t care about. That doesn’t seem healthy. I’m getting information from people that I put little to no value in. I probably thought they had value at one point, but that’s changed. There is one sports reporter who covers the University of Colorado athletics. He’s a good reporter, but I just don’t care about the University of Colorado athletics. I should probably unfollow him. If I need to find out information about the Buffs, I know where to find it.

There was an article in the New Yorker a few weeks back that I really enjoyed. It was from the writer Jia Tolentina, called “The Worst Year Ever, Until Next Year.” The last line really got to me:

No, 2016 is not the worst year ever, but it’s the year I started feeling like the Internet would only ever induce the sense of powerlessness that comes when the sphere of what a person can influence remains static, while the sphere of what can influence us seems to expand without limit, allowing no respite at all.”

I think the common theme here is the internet. I spend too much of my time on it. People talk about how great the internet is when it comes to connecting people. I agree with that, but I feel like the good things are dwarfed by the amount of pure crap, despondancy, and cynicism that seems to dominate my feeds. I think people have an urgent need to “do something,” yet they can’t “do” anything, so they turn to the internet to vent. It snowballs and just catches other people in the grasp.

I think 2017 is the year I will reduce my inputs. I have a big heart. I am a kind person and I am a generous person, but when it gets stretched too far, it gets tired. It also gets worn out by cynics. I don’t need that in my life. I want to care a lot about a few things, rather than a little about a lot of things. I think that’s a healthy tradeoff.

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