Something’s just dawned on me - most of the time I spend at the computer is spent interacting with people who desperately want my attention. Seeing as most of my time is spent at the computer, this leaves me in a kind of tragic position.
My portals to all of the world’s information are email and sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Medium. I have very little unstructured play-time because of these ‘tools’. But all of these things play host to attention seekers. Their algorithms promote urgency, anxiety, and activity.
Email is the worst. I have unopened snail mail sitting right in front of me on my desk, but I’ve read (or at least opened) every piece of email I’ve been sent since I signed up for my gmail account maybe 8 years ago. That’s insane. Most of the problem is the smart phone. On a computer I choose which websites to visit, I can safely ignore my emails. On the phone, though, the mail app nags me with its red circle of unreads. I can’t check a message, make a phone call, or play chess without being reminded that I haven’t read my emails.
LinkedIn is just as bad. I check it a dozen times a day, which has to be pathological. I’m not sure what I’m looking for on there, I’ll visit it for 90 seconds, scroll down the timeline, dispose of my notifications and then leave.
I’ve been on Twitter for maybe two weeks, I follow a dozen people. I have few followers and haven’t tweeted more than a handful of times. I signed up to tweet about my writing, to get a wider audience for my posts. Every time I write something for TowardsDataScience, I’ll tweet it with a couple of relevant hashtags. Otherwise I don’t use it. But I already visit it between 5 and 10 times a day, and have downloaded the app, too. What am I hoping for?
Medium has been my favourite ‘social’ platform by far. It’s well suited to me and the way I like to interact with people. But it’s going downhill. There’s just too many people on it. If that’s not what the problem is, then the problem is all the writers who cater to the top of the knowledge funnel. The people who are using Medium to up their SEO and discoverability.
There are so many posts that describe the ABCs of this, or the 123s of that. So few posts dig deeper. Medium is becoming about the lowest common denominator.
When I started writing on there, I bared my soul. I described my failures and successes, I put my actual opinions on there. Those posts didn’t get read.
So I changed my strategy, I wrote about technical things, I wrote tutorials. I wrote what everyone else was writing. Lo and behold, I got views and reads. I got views and reads and applause but I stopped writing. I burned out.
When a writing platform changes what you write, you should leave.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to have a blog and what I want to use this space for. In my weaker moments I think about it as if it were a marketing tool. That’s obviously not what it’s for. I’m not writing this content to get more clicks from long-tail keywords. I’m writing it to share my thoughts, be found by those who are like-minded, and to have the ability to look back at who I once was.
I haven’t found many like-minded people in the past few years. I’ve let email, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Medium tell me what I should be seeing, reading, and ultimately, thinking. I’ve had enough of that.
I’m going to ignore my stats on Medium, I’m not going to go on LinkedIn or Twitter. I’m going to let emails go unread while I’m busy doing something else.
I’m going to go beyond the gatekeepers, I’m going to step out into the internet. I hope I find it alive and well.