Unplugging, Unfollowing, and Blocking—a Social Media Experiment for Sanity
Going Dark on Social and (Briefly) Being Banned from YouTube
It’s no doubt been a rough couple of weeks, friends have left us, more unspeakable tragedy, and even my attempt to use BetterHelp for therapy failed and I rage quit the app because I couldn’t figure out the tech…
BetterHelp (not a sponsor) reached out with the tech solution but I spent what would have been 5 minutes of my first digital therapy session saying, “Fuck This” into a fully not transmitting webcam and mic ‘launched in the browser’. Launched from browser? What the fuck? I hear some of my more adventurous friends are actually podcasting and streaming from a browser window. The Rube Goldberg machine we’ve been using with Skype for the past 13 years at least works… even though it requires updates and restarts all the time.
I’ve had a slower posting schedule for this substack and my other accounts. Looking to see if social media is driving me crazy. Guess what? It finally is. In actual irony, I have more social media clients than ever now, and that’s OK, it’s just the work and most posts are managed in a walled-off garden of an app that has nothing to do with my personal accounts.
I’ve turned to consuming more, blocking more, trying to attune the algorithm for short blasts of video dopamine with TikTok and Facebook, and Instagram stories. Jeremy made a point about engagement the other day, as the platforms seem to be favoring views to regular posters and short videos. All of the other rules with hashtags, all of that, it doesn’t matter. Engagement is down unless you are a new kind of creator.
Jeremy LaCroix 🌻 @J_LaCroixFor years I was in synch with algorithms @instagram. Lots of growth & engagement. The past year that has changed dramatically. Data shows my new posts are shown to a fraction of my followers. IG’s strategy is to penalize those who are not making videos or posting daily. #fail
I’m weird about how I do my running but I’ll share someday soon. Mind you, I’ve been a long-distance runner, Co-Captain of both my High School Cross Country and Track Teams. I ran the 2 Mile race because I like the repetition and the quantification of the 8 laps. I (listening to podcasts and music) mostly have alone time meditation when I run. I like the laps.
I haven’t been to the track since getting back into running and closing my Apple Watch rings, but I am sure I will. I guess I have been running for a month or so. Am up to 3 miles. Every. day. Losing weight is the goal and it will only be a matter of time if I can keep on the salads. I got these cool headphone sunglasses that were expensive but good for working out and riding my bike…because I am obviously obsessed with my own mortality lately.
What else is on the update?
Man, I dunno—just legit so bummed about so many things lately. Time to be a hermit. I’m considering doing the monthly deal at WeWork to go to the office for work every day. Seems worth it financially, and gets me out to ‘touch grass’ or at least asphalt with the tires of my bike. I can work at the Central Square location which just feels like ‘home’ for ‘work’ for me. Maybe I’ll actually be there for a donut event and meet some people. Who knows? I am seriously considering this. Just booked our hotel for New York Comic Con, as far as multi-hundred dollar transactions are concerned. Worth it to #treatyoself on some vacation, I say!
Since 2016 I’ve been staring at Twitter all day, and spent a good part of the pandemic (without teeth!) convincing myself I am a ‘digital creator’. Learn to edit videos, take classes, and stream more! I do love doing these things, and podcasting, but going from a weekly podcast to every two weeks is great for me and I can focus. Also down to the one, main show at LeaguePodcast and taking a hiatus from I Think This Is Great! with Clay N. Ferno. Just waiting for a little inspiration and feeling good to get kicking off a Season 3. I have a perpetual Season 2 with Bonus Episodes but it will be time to put that pandemic season to bed soon.
Are you, dear reader, to be concerned about me? No please shed no worries for me, Hakuna Matatta. I’m good. Just exhausted so I am taking time to pull in the energy to my center so I can share it freely…when I snap out of it.
Wow, hey, are you guys watching The Girl From Plainville?
The true story of Michelle Carter's "texting-suicide" case, exploring her relationship with Conrad Roy III and the events leading up to his death, and, later, her conviction of involuntary manslaughter.
It’s such a tragic, Massachusetts story. Conrad “Coco” was suffering. Suffering in a “that coulda been me” multiverse kind of way. Colton Ryan plays this kid so well. I mean I can't put myself in his shoes but I kinda can I guess.
Highly Recommended, I guess? Elle Fanning is amazing, love her in The Great on Hulu as well.
I like to watch sad stories, true stories like this, Candy and The Thing About Pam with Stacey, it crosses our interests, as she is definitely a Murderino.
The Michelle Carter and Conrad Roy III story kind of dances around the time of social media, iPhones, and the like. Conrad died July 13, 2014. So that is 7 years after iPhone/Android smartphone revolution. She is texting from a Sidekick so it’s not the same internet we are being bombarded with now. I had already seen I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth Vs. Michelle Carter (streaming on HBO). I was familiar with the case and how weird it was. How cruel and bizarre Michelle Carter was, and that’s not with the same access we have exactly today. The eight-year jump to now has made things worse or has made ‘cruelty the point’ by so many of us in our shared society.
I’m trying to send less email and cut down email noise as The Minimalists taught me while advancing the show with them. But that’s not my experiment. In The Lab, we’re going back to IG Reels, IG Stories, Facebook Stories, and Tik Tok.
Remember, I have been consuming (I know, I KNOW) and not producing as much content — around the same time, I am trying to unplug and not look at my Twitter news list as many times during the day. Kara Swisher, another podcasting hero of mine was singing the praises of TikTok ASMR videos to relax.
I’m not on there much, just a dabble. But I have been consuming about a 1/2 hour a day of what I get fed there.
Enable 3rd party cookies or use another browser
Here’s the interesting thing that has only borne fruit recently.
Across TikTok, IG Reels, and Facebook Stories, if I am confronted by absolute bullshit, I block the account the stranger’s bad Lizzo video is coming from. Blocked! I’m blocking fitchecks, sorta racist lip sync memes, most trending videos unless they are done really well. I am blocking Moms and Kids because I don’t hang like that! I’m blocking recipes that are gross. I am blocking Mom of 6 Kids Lifehack Toks, all sorts of lame jokes I don't think are funny but are presented to me, most duets. I’ve now blocked hundreds maybe thousands of accounts…
“It May Surprise You To Find Out What Happens Next” - AI Young Lady Voice
TikTok - I’ve gotten the most benefit here. The AI is learning that I like Dave Chappelle Videos and raunchy standup, some smaller standup acts I’m not familiar with, it somehow thinks I am a musician (maybe because I talk about music a lot?) so I get lots of “Here’s one big mistake musicians are making”. Can you guess? Instant block. Not that these things aren't helpful, they are but I don’t need them or know these people. Just this past week my videos are better. I’ll follow accounts back that are celebrities and I even found a washing machine repair person that’s almost going to get blocked but I am not annoyed with them yet. If you are doing some car thing or plumbing…instant block BYE! Also, no sports talk (obviously). And instant block any comedians like Louis or whatever. Lost of these accounts are just reposted from other accounts and aren’t original sources. Copyright may (or may not?) catch up with these fools.
FB Stories - AI refuses to learn. It thinks I’m some overweight Mom that loves talking about kids and my outfit. I’m sorry, but I am not and I love overweight Moms, I just don’t need to see plus-size outfits for ladies my age. Give me a problematic comedian! FB refuses to learn my preferences. Lots of these are also on Instagram so to block these people I am actually opening IG to block them there.
IG Reels - Somehow, I don’t think I am being served people after I block them (from Facebook or Instagram) but still, the learning isn’t as adaptive as TikTok. Though, IG curation and recommendations are usually close to my interests, and certainly way less Legging Moms trying to capture my attention. I don’t block a lot of people with suggested reels, but it does happen. I’m a blocking fiend on TikTok and Facebook. Sorry again, strangers I don’t know!
I’m mostly talking about my video bits above but I also have been not ‘blocking’ my ‘friends’ from Facebook, but I have been unfollowing them for the same amount of cruel reasons that are just mostly like “I literally don't care about this - UNFOLLOW”. If you are reading this and you are my Facebook friend, I OBVIOUSLY still follow you. Don’t go looking or anything! That would be rude of YOU to do so!
Turning down the noise on my timeline has helped, and so has having blocked the following terms: “Tom Brady” “TB12” “Retirement” “GOAT” from Twitter. I guess I will never know if the guy who heads the “General Office of Academics and Time” retires, I just won’t see it! Sorry, when we discover alien first contact from Galaxy TB-12! I’ll never get to see that news!
Oh yeah, I took a break for 3 months from publishing ANYTHING on YouTube. I sampled a video of one of my favorite bands, The MC5 from some show in Germany. The copyright holder (a German Library) was a real dick and complained about it (I could have just taken it down) but I got a strike and my ability to post taken away for 3 months. I didn’t miss it, I don’t make money from YouTube. It just forced me to go dark there and restrategize my video posts. Maybe all original music and content going forward. No ripping stuff (but that’s what’s getting TikTok views!). I am so going to be careful over there on YouTube with other IP. Not so much video, I think they tag you for using audio. I don’t mind it the video is demonetized so long as I have views and subs.
By the way, inside baseball is that I was doing an MC5 “Short” for YouTube which is like TikTok. And I’ve done it before! Wait for the surprise at the end of this Tok:
Enable 3rd party cookies or use another browser
Peace and love, everybody. Hug your friends and family. Block some people. It’s fun.
Support these Substacks: