It’s still a pandemic out there, if you didn’t notice.
There’s a new variant of the Coronavirus, new boosters available, and other crazy things happening in the world. While I can’t control those things, I can still control my own self-being. I’ve nearly reached the end of my clean-up-based pandemic posts that I started back in 2020. There will be a few more blog posts to describe the amount of information that I’ve been able to gather and categorize, but I think I’ve reached the end of the line in terms of pure disorganization in my own life.
I recently read a book on Buddhism called You are Here that changed my perspective on consumption:
I’m not going to be able to summarize the entire book here, but one of the points that the author made was not consuming media that was negative. They described violent TV as an example. I had already bought into this concept generally before I read the book, but it really made sense to apply it to different parts of my life that I had not considered before. It inspired most of what I decided to clean up here.
Removing wasteful content and information was also important to me, even if it was a piece of content that was neutral in being. I have given a free pass to those digital services which have allowed me to crowd information; just because I was in control of my physical belongings now around me didn’t mean that my digital life should be a mess.
LinkedIn is a social media platform that is only as good as what you put into it. Even though the “500+ connections” phrase on a profile seems to be coveted by a lot of professionals, I decided to un-connect with a lot of people that I didn’t know, or were doing things that were not in my career network. I also removed myself from groups and interests that didn’t really seem to vibe with what I wanted to see, and added those that I was genuinely interested in. It’s made a difference every time that I launch the app: I am not bombarded with content that I have to scroll through.
I used to limit myself to only three pages of apps. Since then, I’ve installed apps that I’ve never used more than once, and moved a few to existing folders where they should have already been. This was a fairly quick fix for me, but I definitely recommend that everyone take the time to do this. Maybe you’re getting notifications from apps that you never wanted? Uninstall it, or remove the notifications if you can.
I had subscribed to so many dead channels and negative content that I also decided that this needed to be cleaned up. It took about an hour, but I finally finished pruning random stuff that I didn’t have an interest in. Now, my feed is only active channels with interesting content that I would always sit thorough to learn something new rather than endlessly scroll through. It’s very much focused on cooking, history, and science.
I found that I would take a specific topic or interest and subscribe it to death. That includes brewing, memes, and restoration channels. The restoration channels consist of taking apart a household item that was old/neglected, and putting it back together as if it were new again. If it’s not done on a high enough level, I’ve found that it’s all the same content, really. The pinnacle of these channels, of which I still subscribe, is a Swiss YouTuber named my mechanics who goes as far as to machine his own replacement hardware. That is the level of quality that I want out of one of these channels, and what I now have as a standard if it means adding another one to my current subscriptions.
About six months ago, I similarly cleaned up my subscribed subreddits. If I am not learning anything from them, and they only exist to be overly negative, I figured that I didn’t need to see them by default. Since I decided to do this, it has made a huge difference. I feel like I am more balanced, and can learn a lot more about my own hobbies in my free time while not consuming random junk.
Reddit gives you the ability to save a post or a comment. I’ve routinely clicked “save” on these items going back nine years. However, I found that something I saved or was interested in nine years ago may not even be relevant anymore. If it was one piece of information that I only needed to consume once, I marked it unsaved. If it could be moved into one of my bookmark folders, it was, and then it was marked unsaved.
I got to the point where the only saved Reddit posts I have now are very clever comments that need to be within the context of the original post it was contained in. In all I was left with only a dozen of these. It took me at least three hours to complete this!
I have bookmarks going back to 2007, when I got my first Mac desktop. Many dead links have been removed over the past few years, but I took it upon myself to create a few new categorized folders to sort (I had only a few of them before they were becoming unruly with endless web pages in them). There’s still a few more things left to sort, so it may take me another weekend of work. However, I already have some ideas for new projects that I want to do with some of this curated content, including some future blog posts. There is a lot of information here to go through, but at least it is now more manageable.
I went through all of my liked songs, and anything that I would prefer to skip, I removed. I had to be careful about this, as I believe that my current mood would sway my opinion on specific songs, but there were definitely some tracks that did not belong on my normal rotation anymore. Tracks from albums that I didn’t like, songs that were acceptable that I could listen to but that I would not choose to seek out on my own. There were a decent amount of “Discover Weekly” songs that I added but never enjoyed. I still have about 2,600 songs liked, so there is not a lack of variety at all here.
Between Reddit and YouTube, specifically, I’ve found that I can now control what I want to be exposed to. For example, there’s very little in politics that I’ve subscribed to through these platforms. That doesn’t make me ignorant of what is going on in the world, but I think it is better for me to focus on my own interests and keep the news separate from that.
For me, Twitter was not a problem to clean up since I’m never on it. However, with all of these social media platforms, you can choose to create a worldview for yourself which does not leave you overly negative or isolated. You are ultimately the curator of what you decide to consume. You can choose to build yourself up instead of tearing yourself down, and that’s what I’ve decided to do here.