So you've found your way to my blog, pretty barebones at the moment with just one page other than this - hopefully that'll soon change.

TL;DR: I'm starting a blog. As a social media replacement for the people who want to keep up with what I'm upto. As a way to keep myself accountable for habits and goals I'm trying to acheive. And as a step on a challenge to selfhost as much as my online presence as possible.

I'm starting this blog for a couple of reasons but mostly as a way for people to keep up with what I'm doing in my life after my recent exit from Facebook and WhatsApp (You can find me on Signal).

With so many users abandoning Facebook, we took a series of photos exploring the emotions behind this move. For some, it’s like breaking up with an old friend you no longer trust. For others, it’s like getting out of an abusive relationship or detoxing. To see the full series, visit https://www.flickr.com/photos/bookcatalog/albums/72157689196786870.
Photo by Thought Catalog / Unsplash

While not necessary, having somewhere to direct people in lieu of a significant social media presence certainly made the decision to quit easier (blog post incoming?).

I'm also trying to develop some new habits and improve on others, and putting these goals out in public will hopefully lead to attaining them faster. Some of these are new, some are things I've wanted to do a for while but only recently found the motivation or inspiration for.
Writing being one that I've wanted to start doing regularly for a while but I've never known what to write about. Not that I know now either really.

So a bit (ETA - turned out to be quite a lot) of backstory, in January 2020 I started using a habit tracker to track various things in my life and to try and hold me accountable. This was mostly as a reaction to seeing some eye-opening numbers as to how much screen time I was having daily and I started tracking other metrics of my life too. The scary stat being that in the latter half of 2019 I averaged over two hours of TV per day - and I had thought I'd not been watching as much.

Please tag @mylifejournal.co on Instagram
Photo by Prophsee Journals / Unsplash

So here are a few of the things I started tracking:

  • Alcohol free days
  • Days where I watched no more than two episodes of TV
  • Days I did uni work
  • Days I got up early
  • Days I went to bed at a sensible time
  • Days I listened to a new album (Plexamp completely changed my way of listening from playlist based to album based - and I love it)
  • Time spent on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Reddit)
  • When I went for a run
  • When I went for cycle ride

This (perhaps predictably) led me to want to improve myself and start new habits. I started:

  • Limiting my time on social media to 2 hours total per day (ScreenTime)
  • Having two days each week where I wouldn't use one form of social media - Facebook free Tuesday's and Friday's for instance
  • Limiting myself to two episodes of TV per day
  • Tracking my sleep and trying to maintain a regular sleep schedule (SleepAsAndroid)
  • Doing daily posture exercises
  • Ensuring I was drinking enough water daily
  • Reading at least two hours a week - something that I hadn't really done since starting university due to a lack of being surrounded by good books and money to buy books with
  • Doing an hour of Memrise a week to learn Spanish

Implementing all of this in my life was great, I was fitter, felt better and was making time for the things that mattered while cutting out the things that didn't, even going as far as to scrub my Facebook profile using the Social Book Post Manager Chrome extension to remove my posts, comments and likes from the platform. But keeping Messenger as that's where all my group chats were, little was I to know that less than 6 months later I'd be quitting Facebook entirely.

This all worked fantastically (but definitely not perfectly) through to mid-October 2020 where I became overwhelmed with uni work and it all fell apart. I stopped doing and tracking many of what I had considered habits. I was binging TV shows (aided by having gradually increasing playback speed throughout the year) and putting off work.

That was the state of things until January. With some coursework deadlines and an exam looming, both ill-prepared for, I decided again to start tracking my habits and put into place some harder blocks to prevent me slipping.

Using Tautulli (Plex statistics program, Plex being what I watch all my content through) and a script on GitHub I was able to implement a check everytime I started watching something. Now everytime I start watching something the script runs and kills the stream if my total duration for the last week exceeded 14 hours.
This allowed me to be more flexible with how I consume content, I could still spend a Sunday afternoon binging so long as I "saved" the time from earlier in the week. It also counts films in the total, something which I wasn't doing before.

Now for my other reasons for wanting to start this blog;

  • Having reduced my social media presence massively by deleting Facebook and WhatsApp (replaced with Signal) I didn't have a place where I could post about my life that I was in total control of.
  • With the ongoing COVID situation I was losing contact with many people and there are only so many times you can reach out and have the same superficial five sentence conversation.
  • A place where I could be more open, I've never been one to talk alot, least of all about myself and I realised that even my best friends might not know some of my current interests what I get upto when I'm not at the pub with them.
  • And lastly, having encouraged many people to switch over to Signal (and words can't express how happy I was that so many did) I had many questions about online security and privacy, something that over the past couple of years I've been more and more conscious of. So hopefully by posting about my ongoing goal of selfhosting many of my own services and removing big companies from my online life (commonly referred to as degoogling) I can educate some people.

This rambled a bit, almost a thousand words and with far too many bullet points, I'll try and keep it a bit shorter next time.

Thanks for reading,
O