Last year it occurred to me that the inner turmoil I would sometimes experience while reading certain sources on the internet was hardly worth the occasional worthwhile bit that they brought my way. I had already given up nearly all interaction there for just the same reason, so I began to purge my reading lists. Any source that inspired contentiousness in me got the axe, first in my RSS reader and then via unfollows on Facebook and Twitter.
Reader, there wasn’t much left on Facebook and Twitter! In fact, I’ve finally gone ahead and deleted my Facebook account, and in a couple of days I’ll delete my Twitter account, once I’ve downloaded my tweet history (which is almost entirely a set of quotable quotes I wanted to save off somewhere).
Strangely enough, I probably spend just as much time as before reading RSS feeds, but that is because deleting the contentious stuff opened up enough space to add a few prolific but actually valuable sources. I’ve also subscribed to a couple of email newsletters that have a knack for finding valuable new items on the internet. So it’s not that I want to withdraw from cyberspace, merely narrow my exposure so that I can go deeper with sources I find edifying.
Although I can’t quantify it, I think doing this has greatly increased my peace of mind. Just as engagement in the News of the Day can suck you into a spiral of ever-increasing anxiety, disengaging can help you see what’s left more clearly, which leads not only to an improved perspective but allows and even encourages further disengagement. I used to have hope that the new possibilities for connecting via the internet would make life better, and as I withdrew I went through stretches of disappointment and uncertainty because of that—only to reach a point where I’m content with being out of the fray, and looking for ways to detach further in order to make even more space in my life for the things that count.