This isn’t about becoming anti-social in the traditional sense, but more anti-social media. Asocial would be a more accurate term.
A few years back I made a decision to disconnect from most social media platforms. If you wanted to get in touch with me or know what I was doing, you would have to see me in person, text me, or be part of a six-member Discord server. Previously IRC, but that’s another blog post.
My primary motivation was to avoid engaging in the internet outrage machine. I didn’t want to see anything scroll by unless it was written by someone carefully researching, fact-checking, and thinking.
I also unsubscribed from news and politics podcasts around the same time. No prizes for guessing which year this might have been.
The change was largely positive! I spent a lot less time scrolling through news feeds and a lot less time being outraged about the latest ridiculousness. Although I CRAVED the hottest of takes, it turns out my life was better without them.
I’ve made my way back to news, but this is mostly local news I pay people to research, write, edit, and then deliver to me. Through some quirk in the system, they even deliver a paper to my doorstep, despite my requests to stop.
However, I did NOT make my way back to social media.
The downside of this approach has been falling out of touch with what everyone is up to. Sometimes I do want to see what people and their families are doing. Sometimes I want to broadcast to others what I’m doing.
Here’s my current anti-social approach.
I track my bullet journal in Obsidian. Obviously this needs to stay private, but it’s a great holding pen for ideas I may want to publish, like the one you might be reading right now.
I have a folder full of daily notes. Sometimes I’ll make a summary weekly note, but I’m very bad at this.
I also have other folders for technology, restaurants, books and people. There might be a note about you that contains information on how and when we met, and a short list of things you like and don’t like. Most of that is just for me.
I converted from Goodreads to Obsidian so I can track the list of books I’ve read and my thoughts on them privately. I don’t really have any desire to share what I’m reading, or my thoughts about it, so this works well for me.
I keep a folder full of restaurants we’ve visited and our experiences. I do some light categorizing so I can say “what would be a good date night location if I feel like Italian?”
I have a pie in the sky idea to take all this restaurant metadata and build a little “dinner spinner” web app that my family can use 🙂
I track my technology research in Obsidian, with articles on things like Fail2Ban, postfix, cloudflared, MySQL, and more. I’d love to publish all of these because:
- They track what I’ve learned so I can remember later
- They help me solve a problem
- They might be helpful to someone else!
- It’s just fun
The problem with how this works on a blog platform is that you write the entry, post it, then never come back to it. That’s definitely not how my technology entries work. They are all interconnected. They get updated over time as I learn more information. They are also often incomplete, with notes on things I want to come back to.
For now, that’s why I’m only very selectively turning an internal technical article into a blog post. Each technology blog post I make is a chance for my internal vault to become out of sync with the blog entry.
Also, blogs broke the internet and I agree. I used to maintain a site with an index and pages for specific topics. Then we all switch to LiveJournal and blogging 😉 Then Facebook came along.
I’ve considered two options for how I might address this problem.
- Obsidian Publish
- Pro: Could very easily publish anything I tag as technology and publish: true
- Pro: Keeps all of the really great Obsidian links and the graph view for connectivity.
- Con: Not free. $8 USD per month. I’m already paying for Obsidian Sync so this seems like a bridge too far.
- Con: Hosted outside my own domain, even though I could point a domain to it.
- Hugo or some other static site generator like Jekyll
- Pro: Contents entirely in my control
- Pro: Extreme customization possible
- Pros: Mostly free when I use my existing hosting
- Cons: Extreme customization seems to be required
- Cons: Potentially fragile over time
- Cons: If I chose to write my own or use someone else’s, I’d be maintaining it.
The short summary is that one method costs money, and the other method costs time.
I always go back to the WHY at this point. Why do I want to publish this? I have all of this data internally so I’m hitting most of my main requirements:
They track what I’ve learned so I can remember later They help me solve a problem
- They might be helpful to someone else!
It’s just fun
Maybe this is why I haven’t completed the project yet. The benefit would be for some stranger I don’t really know. The cost would either be my time or my money.
I suppose what I’m saying is.. my interim solution is just to manually copy useful things over to the blog and maybe this problem will sort itself out in the future.
Family and Social Sharing
This is a huge miss in my current system.
Right now I share photos in Apple Photos with my immediate family. That’s it.
Do I need to share my vacation photos with the world? Or share my stories about the vacation? Probably not with the whole world. I’d like to at least share this with family in some lightweight setup.
I have a photo section on my website powered by Piwigo. I really like this solution and should use it more. I have their app on my phone that lets me upload select photos from my phone straight to the internet on my hosted site, all while resizing them. Resizing is key. As the iPhone takes larger and larger photos, and time marches inexorably forward, I was running out of storage space. I pay for direct attached disks on my ec2 instance.
I also used to make blog posts that linked to these albums. I don’t feel strongly compelled to do that anymore. I also lost a lot of metadata in the Gallery 3 to Piwigo transition – so I have years of old blog posts with broken image links.
Is a newsletter appropriate, a substack, Christmas cards with our yearly summary? I don’t know. I can’t commit to any sort of cadence that feels like an obligation. I could also just keep posting these to the blog every once in a while when the mood strikes.
Kat’s family just sends people photos on a WhatsApp thread. Honestly – this might be the very low tech solution that just works to keep people in touch.
News and Reading
I use Feedly as an RSS reader. I subscribe to lots of technology blogs and a few personal ones so I can keep up to date on the world around me without scrolling through a site.
I also pay for the local paper and read their e-Edition when I’ve got the time.
What I’ve Learned
Even though I’ve become anti-social (asocial), I still have the desire to curate and share things with folks. That’s why you’re reading this. I am not planning any immediate changes to the site, but you might see me experiment with some different approaches for sharing.
If you have a way to share information with your audience, especially family, let me know what works for you.
If you’re writing a blog, or a newsletter, please share it with me. If it has an RSS / Atom feed that’s even better.