The CTO of Twitpic going without social media for an entire month? Yeah, it happened. Steven Corona nixed Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and more for 30 days — and he lived to tell about it.
Thirty days ago, I made the decision to give up social media for a month. Well, here I am, reporting that I'm still alive and that the past month has been life-changing — the most successful month of my existence.
Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and Hacker News were all on my blacklist. Well, sort of. My goal for giving up social media was to create more value in my life, quit hoarding information and appreciate the time that I spent with friends. So, full disclosure — I briefly used Facebook and Twitter five times during my haitus to pimp blog posts, and I'm OK with that, because it was for the sole purpose of sharing value (and getting more pageviews, duh).
From the beginning
The first couple of days were full of withdrawl symptoms — I'd open a new tab in Chrome and start typing facebook.com without even thinking about it. I missed my constant entertainment from Twitter.
It got better. I forgot all about Twitter within days. I still missed Facebook, mostly because it came up in conversation all of the time.
Hey, did you see the picture Ryan tagged you in... oh, never mind.
The benefits were immediately apparent. With a mind free to wander and explore, I started to create things, to make moves, rather than suck down a never-ending stream of information.
I've written more words in the past 30 days than I have in my entire life — well, maybe besides that year I took AP English. I have over 20 blog posts drafted that I'm working on tweaking to perfection. And I'm getting better at crafting words and articulating myself because of it. You have to flex the muscle to keep it strong.
I sat down and tried to figure out what creating value in my life really meant, and I had a difficult time with it. James Altucher talks about writing down ideas everyday, so that's what I started doing. Forcing yourself to come up with 30 new ideas every morning leads to some good ones bubbling up to the surface once in a while. Try it.
It lead to a book
I totally pulled a Tim Ferriss and advertised a book without having written a single word. My concept, scaling PHP applications, is for a unique book, which I'm qualified to write, but I didn't know if it would be interesting to others. I created a landing page and rolled the dice. The feedback was incredible; thousands of people signed up, and hundreds were so excited that they pre-purchased it to get access to daily updates. Right now, I'm wrapping up Chapter 4, and the book will be released on July 1.
My old morning routine: wake up, check Facebook, check Twitter. It sucked.
With two huge voids, it was time for a revamp. I'm lucky enough to be able to wake up when my body tells me to, usually around 9 or 10, so I'm always well rested. Once I'm up, I immediately make breakfast, drink Yerba Mate (with a bombilla), and meditate outside for 5-10 minutes before updating my journal.
Meditating was one of those things that sounded good in theory but was always difficult for me to keep up with. Doing it for a short interval is perfect, and even in spurts I find it incredibly beneficial. It clears my head and opens me up for the day.
I built stronger friendships
Not knowing what your friends are doing every second is liberating. It's amazing how much you have to talk about when you don't have a constant plug into their lives. I built stronger friendships and forged a couple of new ones, including a relationship.
Would I have made the same friends and started a new relationship if I was still on social media? Part of me can't help but think that the mystery of not knowing all the gory details that Facebook provides made them more intriguing to me.
Running has been a passion of mine for years. I love it. In some ways, I live for it (I ran 5km every single day for the entire month of April this year). This month, I competed in a couple of 5Ks and even won some trophies.
What's my plan now? Well, I'm back on social media. It's nice to finally see "that picture that Ryan tagged me in". But I don't want to go back to my old routine; the new one is so much better. I love creating things — code, art, writing, whatever. I want to keep doing that, because the act of producing, being a maker, has changed my life.
If I want to read or post on social media, I will do it consciously and thoughtfully — so I won't be using Twitter or Facebook from my phone. And no more Reddit. Like, it provided absolutely zero value to me. I love the information diet that I'm on, and all I need to do is not plug back in.
How 30 Days Without Social Media Changed My Life [Steven Corona]
Steve Corona is the CTO at Twitpic and author of Scaling PHP Applications.