Finding Balance Online

A month ago, I wrote about how I was slowly working to make my phone, and myself, better. I talked about how I was replacing Twitter and Reddit from my home screen with Flipboard and an eBook reader. When I told my girlfriend about how I didn't want to spend so much time on social media, she recommended that I try Pinterest. I've tried getting into it before, but for whatever reason, it never stuck with me. When she told me that the key is to pick one project, make it into a board, and start saving every idea you even remotely like to it, I started to see it's value. Now, after a solid month of relentless pinning (men's fashion, home offices, and pugs), I can open up Pinterest and it's full of stuff that I'm really into. It's the weirdest mix of DIY home design to fashion tips I hadn't thought of to hilarious images of the wrinkliest pugs. It feels like me.

The other big shift was that I started using Flipboard a lot more too. After the death of Google Reader, I spent the last four years searching for the best way to consume news. I tried Feedly and Google Play Newsstand, but those felt a little too cold and didn't always deliver the news I was interested in. I tried setting up my Twitter feed, but I kept seeing the same posts retweeted three or four times a day. Facebook worked for a while (I unfollowed everyone, and replaced them with the sites and blogs I frequent the most), but then I noticed that because Facebook's algorithm kept refreshing the stories in a non-linear way, I kept missing out on important news events and stories. Flipboard for the most part has fixed that. Creating news boards around topics as opposed to strictly the sites I read the most has opened me up to a wider discourse and breadth of knowledge and reduced the amount of noise surrounding them

I did the same with Reddit and Instagram. I decided to stop following the accounts and subreddits I thought I had to or should be following, and instead followed the ones across all my interests instead. These have become the places where I spend the majority of my time online now, and you know what? It's absolutely wonderful.

The more I step away from the screaming mess that are Twitter an Facebook, the more I feel sane and happier. My friends, colleagues, and chosen strangers no longer dictate what I care about. Apps like Nuzzel are meant to help with this. You connect your Twitter and Facebook accounts, and a few times a day it'll send you a notification about the stories your friends, colleagues, and chosen strangers are talking about. It's meant to give you that sense of control, but I found it to be more of a distraction. Sure, to an extent it'll help keep me in the loop, but I've found myself to be more engaged when I actually want to flip through the latest news stories and events, not because people I know are talking about them.

The last month has been a calming reminder that the world isn't always on fire. The political landscape is scary as hell, and burying my head in home decorating tips isn't always the right approach nor the answer. But sometimes you need a break, and sometimes that break comes in form of home decorating tips. We're constantly being bombarded with so much news and content that it's exhausting. It's important to remember that it's okay to rest for a minute, cool off, and take a few deep breaths. It's tempting to segment things and view any and all forms of entertainment as pointless. I mean, who cares what the latest gadget is when the world is potentially ending, right? I do, and I think that it's a good thing to care, even if it really doesn't matter, just to give yourself that break.

For a long time, that's what Facebook and Twitter used to be - fun distractions. They were places where you could post silly pictures and share cool things with like-minded people who share similar interests. I used to check them several times a day, and now that they are the world, and we need new places to escape to, I check them maybe once very ten days. Life is just so much more peaceful without all the noise and distraction that comes from these platforms.

I'm still working on this, trying to carve out my little corner of the internet as it pertains to me - to find things and people that I think matter and interests me separate from the mess of the rest of the internet. It's incredibly tough though, finding that apocalypse-free zone, but the process of it all is already making me happier.

What I'm trying to say is that Pinterest is hella rad, and as long as you can find a proper way to filter all the noise, the internet can be pretty awesome.