Fixing My Brain: Less Is More

So, I resolved for New Year’s to become a Slow Reader once again. One week in, it’s working! I have finished the book I started months ago, read a novella, and started on another book.

On Monday, my new Kindle arrived. Isn’t it cute? No bells, no whistles, except a handy connection to my Goodreads list. Just books. And the screen really is easier on my eyes than my tablet screen. Funny how sometimes a technology downgrade can be a good idea.

2-slow reader
Now the reader is just for reading.

I also followed up on the library plan: yesterday I went to pick up the book I had on hold and brought home a couple more books as well. I had forgotten how much I love to go to the library, especially on a cold day!

British mystery, geeky history, and knitting. Everything I need for the coldest week of the winter.
British mystery, geeky history, and knitting. Everything I need for the coldest week of the winter. And no Facebook notifications.

I am definitely feeling more relaxed and sleeping better now that I “cut the cord” to the Internet an hour or so before bedtime and read a book instead. Am I still ditzy? I guess we’ll find out this summer when we pack out, ha!

I had begun to try to control incoming information a while back. A few months ago, I quit a very active Foreign Service Facebook group for privacy reasons. I soon noticed that it was kind of a relief not to be party to all the discussions on it. So, I tweaked my feed to stop notifications from most of the various groups I participate in. Now I see posts only when I want to: if I feel like chatting about the FS, I go to the appropriate group, and if I feel like chatting about genealogy, I do the same. But I don’t see random posts about stuff I don’t actually care about anymore.

I made another Facebook change more recently. I gradually unfollowed about three-quarters of the sites I had been following, mostly news and political sites. It was getting to where I hardly saw any information from friends because Facebook had decided I didn’t want to. After the clean-up, my feed has gone back to being mostly photos, recommended articles, and other updates from friends. It’s like I turned the volume down. I really like it, and I am spending less time on Facebook because I can see what I am interested in right away. Another instance of less being more.

But, I do like to read news. So, a few days ago, I returned to that dinosaur of the Internet, a Yahoo home page. I had one ten years ago, and now I have it again. All my favorite news feeds in one place—and not mixed up with my virtual social life! It ain’t fancy, but it works. I can click through a few articles over coffee in the morning and get my fix.

Finally, I spent some time over the holidays relentlessly unsubscribing and filtering emails in my inbox. Most of my work emails are now diverted directly into a folder so that I can see them when I am working—and avoid them when I am not!  I also found an app called Unroll Me that combines all the advertising emails that I am still subscribed to into one digest every day. My inbox is now half the size it was a month ago. I love it.

I’ve concluded that just because you can do something online, doesn’t mean you should. It’s like cable TV: we all have about  400 channels on cable TV, but we watch maybe five of them, right? That’s why remotes have a Favorites button. It’s not so you can find your favorites quickly, it’s so you can completely ignore all the other junk!

The Internet is a similar beast. For all the advantages it offers (especially to those of us who move around a lot!), it can drown out the quieter pleasures in your life if you let it. And mess with your concentration.

I’m going to continue to work on taming it.




One comment

  1. ooh what kind of Kindle did you get? I got a Voyage for Christmas and love it! I have a Fire that is good for short trips if I want to be able check email and Facebook without lugging along my laptop, but I’ve never loved reading on that screen. I had an old Kindle with a keyboard (2nd gen maybe?) but that seems to have disappeared somewhere in the course of my latest FS move, so I’m delighted to have this new one because the e-ink screen is just so lovely to read on. good luck with the books- somehow I can never make electronic borrowing work from my library but I hope it goes better for you 🙂


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