Most of the stuff I see in this Digital world that I am connected to is…wait for it…CRAP.
What I receive in my in-box, in my Twitter feed, on Facebook, in my blog feeds, is crap.
I’m sorry if I offend anyone, but it is EXACTLY as I describe it: pure unadulterated crap.
Now I totally get the fact that crappiness is in the eye of the beholder, but in this case I BE THE BEHOLDER, and I am the one deciding what is value and what is CRAP CRAP CRAP. You however, have a right to and should make your own decisions.
So read on, or decide that this post is crap too. If so ignore it and move on. I’m a big boy. I can take it…
I had gotten immune to the crap. Built up a tolerance, such as one does with caffeine, or smog, or the sulfur taste in well water. But now, I’ve gotten quite sick of it. And I AM doing something about it. I must. Or I will simply go mad.
I am not exactly sure when my digital crap problem started. I think the phenomenon must
be similar to waking up one day to realize that you are addicted to alcohol (which I was, so I DO have SOME experience with this) or other substances, or Internet porn, or collecting STUFF (gazing at that yellowing pile of Marvel comic books dating back to 1987 over in the corner).
Over the years I suppose I had “willingly” and openly signed up to dozens and dozens of mailing lists, catalogs, as well as subscribed to a multitude of blogs. Also I suppose, I had a tough time distinguishing between value and crap. In the case of the Blogs, as I think about it, I felt guilty reading someone’s blog post and NOT subscribing to it. After all, writers WANT and NEED an audience. I myself want people to subscribe, and to read MY crap!
But if you are able to look at this issue AND your own writing and situation objectively, you will admit to yourself that not everyone is for you and you are not for everyone. Not every single person will or should be a member of you tribe nor you of theirs. That’s not how it works.
The natural way of the world is that people who develop an affinity to what you say and what you write will gravitate to you. In turn, you will gravitate to people you share commonality with. You will go back again and again to read that which makes sense, adds value, entertains you, gets you thinking, and gets you laughing or crying.
So, a week ago, I promptly began to unsubscribe from a large number of mailing lists, and quite a few blogs.
I looked hard at what was coming across the electronic frontier, and I took a digital chainsaw to it. If it did not add value, entertain me, make me think, make me laugh or cry, or move me, I detached from it. I severed the ties. I cut the electronic umbilical cords. I blew stuff away.
Now the reality is that there are worthy and valuable things being said out there in digi-land. There are people with good advice, interesting things to say, and valuable information. The challenge is to sift through all the chaff so you can find the wheat. The shiny penny in the scrap heap. The pony in the pile of crapola.
How does one actually do that?
Well, it’s going to be specific to you. But I don’t mind sharing the checklist I used to simplify my digital life and blow away the crap.
As I was going through my in-box and feeds, I asked myself these questions:
- Will I lose something of real value if I unsubscribe from this list? Blog? Site?
- Am I receiving anything of value from this mailing list? Blog? Site? Is it SIGNIFICANT value?
- Is the subject of the mailing list, site, or blog consistent with my topics of interest, my values, my self interests, my reason for being? Moi raison d’etre?
- Is the author, contributor, writer, someone with expertise and skills, relevant (to me) experience, respected, with integrity, accountable for what they say, responsible for what they do?
- Does the content drive me to think reflectively, make me laugh, pull at my heart strings and bring me to tears, or help me solve life’s problems?
- Is this the kind of stuff I absolutely cannot do without?
After one week of going through that checklist, severing myself from every email in my in-box that originated from a mailing list and from numerous blogs and other lists, I can’t begin to describe the liberating feeling of freedom. The pure bliss. The feeling is very similar to how I have felt after the physical de-cluttering and simplification exercises I’ve gone through in my home and office.
My digital life is simpler, my in-box is cleaner, streamlined, free from crap. This is allowing me to focus on the truly important and valuable things in life.
Now when an infrequent email from a list I had subscribed to happens to pop up in my in-box (Pinterest emails for example are particularly difficult to unsubscribe from) or a post from an infrequent blogger shows up, I go through the 6 questions above and make my decision about what is important and what can be cut loose.
Seriously, after one week, the majority of the pruning has been done. Crap is virtually gone!
You can do this too. Beat the crap. Focus yourself. Pick your tribes carefully. Follow the value. Hitch your digital wagon to the shining stars.
You might have found this to be good advice, helpful, worth listening to. Then again, you may have found me to be full of crap…