Dr. Jillian T. Weiss

Media Dieting

Filed By Dr. Jillian T. Weiss | August 23, 2011 9:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: information overload

cupcakes.jpgIt should be pretty obvious by now to everyone who has the online literacy skills to read this blog that computers have not made the world faster. Instead, it's made the world fatter -- glutted with overwhelming amounts of information that one simply must consume, all day long, every day. A google search of "media diet" brings up thousands of articles and books, with authors swearing off ichocolate of all kinds. It's about as effective as swearing off real chocolate.

Every morning I get up, at about 6 am, to about three dozen emails. One dozen I saved from yesterday, which I didn't have time to do anything about, but which were too important to delete or put on the black hole of my to do list. Another dozen are new ones that collected overnight, half of which I can read and delete. That doesn't mean the reading is quick, because these include the daily New York Times and the daily Chronicle of Higher Education, as well as the weekly LGBT SmartBrief. The other half want me to do something, and I delete those I can ignore without losing my job or my reputation, and keep the rest. The third dozen come from listservs and news sites I subscribe to, including the New York Times, the Chronicle of Higher Education, the ABA Journal, MetroWeekly, the Washington Blade, the LGBT Smartbrief, and a daily Google search for transgender or transsexual stories about the workplace.

Then I check my twitterfeed, which I reserve for those news outlets, blogs and a few select people that I consider important. I love it because it forces people to be brief, and I can decide right away whether the story is relevant to me or not. I never read blogs, at least not by going to the website, as that is a huge time suck, and the only one I consistently find relevant and important is Bilerico. I suppose it's no surprise that I blog here. I long ago gave up Google Reader as a bad business.

I never read my Facebook feed, because try as I might, I can't seem to control what goes in there. I've spent literally hours following Facebook's directions on how to get only the ones you want in your feed and it's never worked. I do check my profile feed, as I always put my Bilerico posts on twitter, Facebook, and now Google plus. I get interesting comments on my posts on Facebook, and I like to keep abreast of those. I still haven't figured out Google plus, and I'm still mad that there is a third thing I have to think about. I haven't learned how to see if there are any comments on my Google plus posts, and frankly I don't have much of a desire to learn.

Then I check comments on Bilerico, those that need approval, those that are reported for abuse, and those that have collected on my personal posts, replying as necessary. I also read a few interesting Bilerico posts, and move on to Google News to check for relevant stories that I can use for the Bilerico Quote of the Day and the posts I'm going to write. Writing my posts takes about an hour.

Then I can look at my to do lists, of which there are two. One is marked Urgent, and is only allowed to consist of three items maximum. The other has no label, and consists of between 50 and 100 items. Some things stay on the list for a year. I review the list every day.

I'm done with this by 10 or 11 am, depending on how slow I feel this morning. That's not too bad, in my opinion. I'll tell you where the problem comes in. There's a constant stream of emails and twitter

I think that's not too bad actually. I'll tell you where the problem comes in. There's a steady stream of emails, twitters, Facebook feed items and, probably, Google plus comments, I guess. Those are a huge time suck. But just imagine if I waited until the following morning to check those? There would be hundreds.

My new solution is to have an evening session with email, twitter, and Facebook. It's hard, because, my cell phone gets all those all day long and not looking at it is like not looking at a train wreck. But not Google plus. I don't look at Google plus. If I have to think about Google plus for one more second, I'll go insane.


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Facebook is a real pain with keeping up with what you want to keep up with. I have been moving to Google+ which is outstanding with information sharing. You create a "circle" and drag those you want to pay attention to then you can simply click on that circle and see only their posts. You can also control who sees what.

I'll have to give it a try. It's on my to do list. :(

The "Better FaceBook" app allows for easy filtering, as well as a bunch of UI options, including a similar "Circles" idea that G+ uses. Also useful for "reversing" some of Facebook's less desirable changes to its chat and other systems they've rolled out in the past few months.

Last year I also went on a media diet. I got rid of my cellphone; my TV; and Twitter. I keep a Facebook account and a laptop computer.

It's been a revelation. People complain that they can't reach me. My response is 'Well you know where I am Monday to Friday between 9am-6pm; and I do have a land line telephone. If I don't answer it I'm not at home and therefore not available'.

It's made life a lot simpler and more pleasant.