Digital Diet

As is the case every New Year, lots of people are posting their resolutions for the upcoming year. The classic ones involve working out more, starting a diet, reading more, drinking less booze, getting a new job etc. All of those are fine goals to have -- if you're trying any of those or anything else I wish you lots of success.

I've decided my resolution is a digital diet for January. Basically, I'm aiming to cut out entirely my consumption of digital media / entertainment. My current line of thinking defines digital media / entertainment as anything that consumes my time passively (vs interactively) that stems from a digital device. This includes:

  • News: Everything from the New York Times to ESPN to DrudgeReport. Basically anything that's optimizing to report as fast as they can to get new information to me.
  • Online content: These are all the blogs that I follow (I'm a big RSS guy) and sites like Medium. Also includes social media (Facebook, Twitter)
  • Videos / Movies / Streaming: TV, streaming services (youtube, Netflix, Hulu etc...) and movies. Basically any video that I could sit down to watch.
  • Podcasts: Deleted my podcast app. No more walking while listening to podcasts.
  • Music: No more music on my phone.

I've gone ahead and deleted tons of apps on my phone and blocked a lot of domains through iOS settings. On my computer I've logged out of most sites and also use a program called "SelfControl" that prevents me from visiting certain websites. The hardest thing was actually realizing that a lot of services that I use embed news in them (trying searching "Donald Trump" on Google without getting any news results). I'm using a Chrome Extension called Stylbot that automatically renders those sections of the site hidden via CSS (same with Linkedin's feed and news section).

I have no idea how this will go and I'm actually somewhat nervous. I imagine there will be times where I am at a loss for what to do. Even the little moments like when I wake up -- I'm so used to checking my phone. Anyways, I guess that's the entire point of this exercise. To revert to a surprisingly not so long ago time where these things weren't available to me.

While I will be able to post updates during the month, I won't be in a position to share them on any platform so I expect no one to be in a position to see my progress. That's ok.

Some caveats:

  • I'm keeping the Kindle on my phone. I get that there's some hypocrisy to this but I don't view reading as passive. That is, I'm not able to have a conversation with someone while I read which isn't the case with scrolling Twitter or watching Netflix.
  • I'm not cutting out news in its entirety. Might actually have to buy a newspaper or read a magazine.
  • I should call out that I don't view all digital consumption as inherently bad. I get a lot of amazing information and interactions out of Twitter. At the same time, I'm interested to see how my brain is given a month without it.
  • Not sure yet how I'll deal with content that's relevant for work. TBD.

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Hi, I’m Ron Jacobson. I'm the CEO of Rockerbox, lifelong fan of the Spurs, Startups, Israel and Tomatoes. Follow me at @rjjacobson