2015 Spring Cleaning

30 April 2015

I’ve never really done a spring cleaning until now (or realised that I was in that mode all together) but I did some this time semi-consciously.

Here’s what I did:

  1. Deleted Snapchat: I love Snapchat, but found myself watching too many stories, sending too few snaps, and receiving nothing in return. It wasn’t always like this, though. I did use it a lot; my score is 9400-something. It became an unnecessary exercise to constantly open the app only to find stories I didn’t care about. I will almost certainly get back Snapchat when I go travelling later in May, but I can’t be sure I’ll keep it beyond that.
  2. Deleted over 1000 photos in my Camera Roll: Duplicate photos, film posters, multiple angles of the same object, insults to people on social media, and screenshots incriminating chats. Delete delete delete. I used the app Screenshots (free on iOS).
  3. Deleted over 1300 tweets: Inspired by this article over at Fusion on tweet deleters, I took a couple of hours in total and got this done using a free service called TweetEraser. This was quite fun and I feel liberated for some reason. Also: I’ve found myself using Twitter a lot less. For years Tweetbot was the first app I’d open in the morning. I was, until recently, a Twitter completionist. I’ll revisit this topic if I think I’m missing out on something. As for actually posting: I expect to do it a lot less. It’s just not fun anymore.
  4. Unsubscribed to a dozen newsletters: Most of these were daily newsletters. I don’t need to stay on top of everything all the time. That quote about how reading after a certain point gets you in the habit of lazy thinking? Yeah, that. I have 100 unread emails in my inbox and I’m catching up quite fast. The anxiety of unread messages and FOMO in my inbox wasn’t worth it.
  5. … repeat for RSS feeds.
  6. Unfollowed about 15 people on Instagram (~9 percent of all people I follow): Some of them are my friends, some were my friends, and some were follow-backs. For unfollowing friends this was my thinking: most of them already cross post to Facebook. I don’t need to see it on Instagram. Also: Instagram updates are empty calories. I’m making a conscious effort to avoid swiping back for over a couple of hours worth of updates. And check only when I have something to upload.
  7. Cleared out my Safari reading list: I had roughly 200 items there, some from back in 2012. This took me a freakishly long time, because I read almost all of them and archived to Pinboard as necessary. (Yes, I need to have an intervention regarding my Pocket list. This is a story for another time.)
  8. Deleted applications on my computer: I got a new computer, so I took some time to clear out applications (like iPhoto) and a host of other nice-to-have utilities. I can always download them again depending on the situation.
  9. Deleted a bunch of podcast episodes on Overcast: three weeks ago I cleared out podcasts as well. I kept think I’d listen to a bunch of podcasts while travelling. Never happened. Now I listen only to a few, and will start listening to the others once I have sufficient time. I made a list of episodes I couldn’t get to on Evernote. 

Importantly, this cleaning has given me some perspective. Digital hoarding is pointless because everything moves quickly. By cutting down on what I choose to access, I’m making time for new things like reading and communicating with people who matter. I typed this in the morning instead of checking Twitter. I also get the idea of discipline: It shouldn’t clutter in the first place. I would be disappointed in myself if I did a spring cleaning in, say, 2017.

Being ignorant about the internet, its impact on society, and its disruptive effect on so many industries isn’t great, but being cognisant about your use almost always is.

Update: May 1, 2015
I added point number 9 on podcasts.