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Giving up … Twitter

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I came across a great New York Times article of someone who had recently given up Twitter.

‘So what?’ you might say.

Well, if you have already read the link above, you’ll know that he had 25,000 followers by the time he decided to call it a day. And no, he wasn’t a celebrity, just a ‘normal’ bloke who happened to master the art of entertainment in 140 characters or less.

Giving up that type of following would have been very tough.


Ask any person who has a fixation, a love, a dependence or a pattern of immersion in something and they will tell you that ‘it’s not an obsession’. We convince ourselves that the time and energy – mental and physical – that we devote to our passion is reasonable. ‘No one’s getting hurt,’ ‘I don’t ask for much, I just really enjoy this,’ ‘There are people who are far more into it than I am.’ True, but irrelevant.

We need to take more personal responsibility for our actions.

I loved it when Larry Carlat admitted that tweeting was an obsession – ‘And like most obsessions, no good came of it.’

What good came out of my obsession with sport? Well, there is one, which I will re-engage with once May 24 swings around – the get togethers with my mates. Not having that for almost 6 months has been genuinely hard. There is no replacement.

Sides from that, I managed to become an expert in many levels of meaningless crap.

Player stats, team records, potential trades, coach movements; you name it, I’ve been across it … for countless hours.

The lateral thinkers

I am always encouraged by people who ‘think big’ and are prepared to make sacrifices. I know people who have gone a year without beer (Feb Fast was well and truly enough for me), not had a tv on for 6 months or bought any fashion related products like clothes or accessories for a whole year and kept it to themselves – possibly a more respectful feat. I could go on.

Giving up something seemingly irreplaceable goes against every message we’re being relentlessly sold – ‘You need this’, ‘You deserve it’, ‘This will make you happy’, ‘Buy me now if you want to be as cool as those around you … cooler, even,’ and my pet hate – ‘For the most important person in the world – you.’ (Of course, who else?!) It’s pathetic and haunting and we for the most part eat up every little white lie we are sold. It’s shown in our diabolical consumerist behaviours, reflected in our incredibly high personal and national debts.

What’s yours?

I would say that almost everyone has their ‘Twitter’ – their one crutch that life seemingly just can’t do without. When confronted with the option of denying ourselves something, we look at it in the wrong light. Our enormous sense of entitlement rises to the fore and we ask, ‘Well why should I?’

And of course, it’s the wrong question.

In our self righteousness, we fail to glance out to face the alternative and see the positive ramifications, most of them bleedingly obvious.

Depending on what floats your boat, the benefits could be less time in front of the computer, better eating habits, more responsible spending patterns, less binge drinking, more time with the family, more exercise, less exercise!

Do something!

I played one of the worst basketball grand finals in history many years ago. We were undefeated all season, and our opponents decided that in the ultimate game of the season, their strategy would be to stand still in front of half-court and simply dribble the ball. It was horrible, to play and to watch.

I distinctly remember a good friend, blog reader and basketball aficionado calling out during the game, ‘DO some-thing!’

(We somehow eked out a terrible 23-21 victory on the back of about 17 missed free throws in the second half. None of them by yours truly!)

The point? Education without action is pointless.

What good are inspirations if they lead to zero action?

Your Turn

So, for the first time in 40+ blog pieces and 178 days, I’m going to ask you to ‘do something’!

Go to your significant other, whoever that may be – wife, girlfriend, mate, and ask them, without motive or agenda, ‘If I could give up anything for 6 or 12 months or even indefinitely, what would it be?’

And when they give their answer, do not refute what they say. Simply listen, smile, nod, and if need be, walk away.

To be fair, I’ll do the same thing. (Please God make her tell me to stop watching sport…)

It won’t be the end of the world

I’m not saying you have to do what is suggested to you, but at at the very least, consider it. Throw away your self-pity about what you may deserve and give yourself enough time to seriously ponder the alternative.

Remember, it doesn’t have to be forever. This blog is not titled, ‘My Life Without Sport.’

(After publishing my ‘cricket’ post last week, Australia set a new low, being bowled out for 47 and losing the first test. I said that runs against Steyn would be hard to come by, but that was ridiculous…)


About petek8

Pete Evans has just finished going 12 months without watching any sport. The journey stemmed from a sense that the balance was out-of-whack with my time and my priorities. Everything seemed to revolve around creating enough time and space to fit in the last game, games, recap shows or space to surf the net for the latest numbers and analysis. The cycle never ends - one season leads into another, seasons overlap if you follow various sports and the media's insatiable appetite for a new 'story' means that even the greatest of achievements aren't heralded for more than 3 days. So I stepped away from the machine for awhile and intentionally engaging with the journey by writing about it.

10 responses »

  1. “Sides from that, I managed to become an expert in many levels of meaningless crap.

    “Player stats, team records, potential trades, coach movements; you name it, I’ve been across it … for countless hours.”

    Careful…without that stuff, no-one will buy the paper any more and then I’ll be out of a job. how about chucking a “sometimes” before meaningful…

  2. Lately, I’ve been obsessed with the concept of what it means to be productive. It seems like with social media and so many tech platforms at our fingertips, life is just one big distraction. One of my mates summed it up beautifully by saying ‘never have so many had so much to say about so little to so few’.

    I was at a friend’s debut exhibition at a gallery in town on Saturday. I walked in and was stunned by the sheer volume of the works on display and quipped to Marie-Louise, ‘Sorry but I didn’t even know you were an artist.’ She responded, ‘Neither did I. My television broke down last July so I just started to draw.’ It’s inspiring to think of what we can do if we just create the space for it.

    • ‘Sorry but I didn’t even know you were an artist.’

      ‘Neither did I. My television broke down last July so I just started to draw.’

      Possibly the most poignant thing said in the entire 6 months of this blog…

  3. Mate, another cracking post.

    We offloaded our microwave recently as we were clearing the benches to make the place look more suitable for inspection. That was over 3 months ago. We’ll never own a microwave again. Our German sister-in-law always stated the data behind the way microwaves cause a rapid decline in the nutrients found in food. I can’t be sure of it but I know we have not missed the convenience factor and it has removed the temptation to ever ‘quick-fix’ a meal. Its amazing what we can give up!

    Also, since we moved in on Oct 15th we have not had an internet connection. Have we missed it, rarely. I can honestly say it is 95% distration. I’ve been working like a trojan setting up vegie gardens, gates, water tanks, sheds, etc. I can’t believe how much I have completed in just over month. Without a net connection to distract me I seriously have more time. So what was I wasting my time doing on the net,
    – Reading news stories (not so bad)
    – Watching motocross from the US
    – Researching (have since been getting books from the local library, sounds odd, buts it fun and actually more beneficial)
    – Reading useless sports stats and results (sorry Craig)
    – Watching movie preveiws
    – Working
    There is more but these are the main ones. I have no Facebook or Twitter account and never will, show me one person whos life is better for the existence of these things?

    The internet will be connected today. But I think I’ll ban myself for a period of time, the stuff I have learnt and acheived over the past month has been fantastic, all without a net connection.

    Thanks for the challenge Pedro!

  4. Yep, that microwave one is a hard one. I’m challenged by your internet journey. Might try and limit myself over the hols. Easier when I’m not dissecting sport. Now we do have to watch that you don’t spend too much time ‘working like a trojan’ and find time to relax and chill with your fam… I’ll keep in touch with Mrs Ooze on that one… =>

    As always, inspired by the way you do life…

  5. C’mon Boys, I checkout these posts every week, and I do apologise in advance if i offend but a voice of pragmatism and reality needs to be heard here. You two are constantly throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

    Oooze said “I have no Facebook or Twitter account and never will, show me one person whos life is better for the existence of these things”. Well there would be literally millions whose lives are enhanced and enriched by these forms of social media. I’m not talking about people writing “I’m going to tea now”, or “I’m tired” or the othr meaningless crap that is written everyday. Have you considered that the networks actually create the ability to support and connect with a much wider variety of friends and family than what you otherwise would without the online means. What about famlies who live in different states and countries, do you not think that some Nanna somewhere doesen’t feel joy and connection by seeing photos of her grandchildren on facebook or talking to them on skype. My Mum loves it and she lives 30 mins away.

    I don’t know how many people are reading this blog, but it’s my opinion it would be less than half without the Twitter and Facebook connection to it. I’m not saying whether that’s right or wrong in itself, but it IS the way the world communicates.

    The post after this one talked about someone who operated their business without email. Despite the ridiculous nature of the concept, and even if it could be done to any level of success (which would be impossible with virtually any industry), what is the point of it ? You’re business has banned email, well done, kudos to you. Huh? So limiting the communication skills, customer service capabilities, and basic levels of productivity is somehow a feather in the cap and helping create a better world ? C’mon, that is hysterically ridiculous in 2011.

    The point of this blog (I thought) was to emphasise the need to avoid obsessions with sport, and in extension any other obsessions that may be addictive to people.
    “I loved it when Larry Carlat admitted that tweeting was an obsession – ‘And like most obsessions, no good came of it.’”
    That quote is the point, and to simply cut something off entirely is not the answer to solving an obsession. I believe that obsessive or potentially obsessive behaviour in most cases is controlled by setting boundaries not by complete bans or no go zones.

    Sorry if my alternate view offends, but there are plenty of people out there who have facebook, email and twitter accounts, who watch a little bit of tv every night with their families, who surf the internet who also have enormous input into their families, friends, and society.

    Too much of anything in life is not going to maximise the person you were meant to be.

    Let’s not throw the baby out boys, that’s all I’m sayin.

  6. If Twitter and Facebook dissappeared would our lives be worse off, no. Has social media created more issues than its solved, yes.

    The school councilor from Maroondah Secondary was quoted last year as saying the problems they were having to deal with had increased 7 fold since the advent of Facebook. I found that hard to believe but have since read research and social commentry that supports the claim.

    Are we happier because of the modern high level of sport, gambling, internet, television and entertainment, facebook. No way, the more connected and wealthy we get the higher depression and anxiety rates climb. There is so much data to support all of this and its the same result be it US, UK or Aus data.

    No one has thrown the baby out with the bath water. These things have been ‘trialed’ by people. Going without email for a business is not ‘hysterically ridiculous’, it proves a very good point. Most business people rely on email, if the connection dies, or there’s an IP issue, no conenction, virus etc it causes pain. I sent that link to several other business onwers and they were all keen to hear how it was done. Thats what dynamic people do, they always look at alternative ideas, they build redundency into their business.

    Such ideas ignite thought and discussion and get people thinking outside the square.

  7. I’m done with offering any kind of alternative views, you boys clearly have it all tapped. But as I sign off re-iterating moderation in everything consider this:
    Virtually every progression man has made in this world can and will be used for good and bad. Choosing to focus on the negative elements only serves to support hysterical and overly emotional viewpoints.
    Businesses do need email and the internet to maximize productivity and reduce costs.
    We can have a drink without encouraging alcohol fueled violence.
    We can drive our cars without encouraging reckless speeding and dangerous driving.
    We can have Facebook and twitter accounts and be involved in people’s lives without it being obsessive.
    We can surf the web without spending hours and hours on it each day.
    We can have a punt without encouraging irresponsible gambling.
    And finally we can watch sport without it becoming obsessive.
    Everyone has a challenge in this world to balance their lives and not to treat any activity or hobby as an idol which takes away from the person they can be.
    Clear Minds, Full Hearts….can’t lose.

  8. Matt, you are totally correct on all those points. However, we can discuss alternative views which is a critical part of progress.

    I enjoy a drink but won’t drink around my mate who is a recovered alcoholic, I use email everyday but much prefer to communicate face to face, Petes love sport but is going a year without it, you are able to have a punt without becoming obsessed.

    However there are people like my father, a good man who got caught in a pattern of behaviour for whom these things are a stunbling block. I had to sell his house this year because of a gambling problem, broke my mothers heart.

    The families that the good people of UNOH deal with have all been worse off since the Casino opened, the gambling related problems amongst the lower demographic are terrible.

    Many others issues are stumbling blocks for many people. I’ve been amongst the lowest of the low too often to say ‘well its your choice pal’, most of them are just so, so desperate.

    All participants of this forum are well educated, we can make good choices. Like my heroin addicted friend who recently got out of prison, life simply never offered any hope from the start and the choices made were always out of desperation. As for my Dad, I want to choke him but I can see how the pattern unfolded one baby step at a time until desperation set in.

    So its with such people as these in mind that I approach these discussions. You’ve used the word ‘hysteria’ 3 times in your past posts. Yet where is the hysteria? Pete is going without sport for a year, his loss in my opinion but also his gain. You are the one packing up your bat and ball and going home. I say don’t, your contributions are excellent.


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