Withdrawing From the Echo Chamber and Clearing Mental Clutter

Updated 14 April 2016

I think I read too many blogs, follow too many people on social media, and get news from too many sources.  Perhaps you do, too

I know that Scoble is legendary for keeping up on umpteen jillion blogs, but even with the aid of feedreaders (are those still a thing?), it’s daunting.  And there’s just no payoff.  In fact, I am beginning to believe that being too connected to too many inputs actually is a negative.

There is a limited amount of overhead that the human brain can sustain and still be highly productive
I believe that every feed I follow, every blog I read regularly, every bit of connected-ness I currently have to various destinations in the tech echo chamber is like a lead weight, slowing down my brain.  Furthermore, I’m not convinced that being this highly connected to the industry is even healthy.

There’s too much focus on what the other guy is doing. Which designer has a clever CSS hack this week? Which company is launching what web app with no revenue model this week? Which Microsoft/Google/Apple technology (which obsoletes some other Microsoft/Google/Apple technology) is on the drawing board this week? Who’s making a billion? Who’s losing a billion? Who has mind share? Who’s leveraging the Long Tail? Who’s reached the Tipping Point…ugh.  It’s as though everyone who writes or reads a tech blog have all actually agreed to bullshit one another, and act like it’s all perfectly normal.

Guess what?  I don’t care about your web app.  I don’t care about the latest developer technology MS is working on.  I don’t care about the 19-year old whiz kid who just sold whattimeisit.com to Yahoo for a billion.  But by being so plugged in, I have sometimes managed to fool myself into thinking I care about these things.

What I do care about – passionately – is profitably solving problems for my clients.  Being overly connected distracts me from that. So, I’m going to opt out for a while.  Clear out the awareness baggage.  De-program.  And, thankfully, focus my mental bandwidth on how to continue effectively and profitably solving client problems.

I’ll continue updating my blog, of course.  And I’ll still be (somewhat less) active on Twitter; in fact, if you haven’t noticed, I recently reduced my following count by almost half. Being less connected will probably mean that what I write will be more informed by what’s happening out in the real world where software is used to keep real businesses running than by the online chatterbox where the focus is on who’s doing what.

Are you feeling like it is time to clear out the attention clutter and cut back on your connected-ness to the blogosphere too?

The same goes for the hundreds of items in my bookmarks.  All that takes up mental bandwidth, keeping the idea in the back of my head that all those bookmarks are there for a reason and that I have this hovering obligation to go back and look at them again and possibly DO something.  But really, those bookmarks just sit.  So I deleted every single one.  Now, I’m going to have to re-create a few, because they were for things like client websites and such, but the point is that if it doesn’t get re-created during the course of my work, then I didn’t really need it.

I’m also deactivating my accounts with online forums and 2nd-tier social networking sites (Snapchat is a good example; I tried it & it didn’t have anything I want, so now it’s gone).  Again, just having those accounts forms a sort of mental commitment to visit them, keep up with people, keep abreast of the latest, and feel obligated to DO something that doesn’t necessarily help my productivity.

Basically, if it’s not helping me to secure or complete projects for my company, if it’s not helping me to make money, if it’s not improving my life in some way, it’s mental clutter and it’s out.