The Power of Becoming Invisible

twitter-follow-me-post1

I love the people around me. I love making friends through facebook or twitter or (now) google+. But what would happen to me if I “killed myself”  in social media. And also killed exposure to the outside world other than for just work purposes.

What would happen to me if I:

A)     Eliminated (not just took a break from, but totally eliminated) my twitter account. 19,000 followers down the drain.

(PLEASE click image to follow me)

B)      Eliminated my facebook account: lose touch with my 1800 friends unless they really wanted to keep in touch with me by visiting and writing hand-written letters.

C)      Eliminated my gmail account. No more emails from anyone or to anyone ever again except for important work purposes. Goes for Google+ also. US-mail letters ok.

D)     Only gave my phone number to my closest friends. And call them only to get together with them on occasion.

E)      Spent more time with kids and wife.

F)      For god’s sake, stop trying to add to my list of Chinese weibo followers (2000 and strong! Can anyone out there speak Mandarin?).

(PLEASE click to follow me on Weibo)

G)     Wrote for my blog out of the sheer joy I get in writing and for no other reason.

H)     Took off all methods of measuring my blog statistics.

I)      No more writing for financial sites. They are all wrong and contradictory. And people can’t generate wealth by buying stocks. More likely they go broke even as the market goes up.

J)       No more going on TV to talk about “Dow 20,000”. I believe in everything I say. But too many people don’t believe in what I say and then throw their anger in my face. Makes me unhappy even though I try not to care. And “good TV” is all about fighting. From now on if anyone challenges me on TV I’m going to challenge them to a fist fight.

K)     Spend more time with friends in person.

L)     Don’t care about my Amazon rank for any of my books.

M)   Eliminate my accounts on various Internet chess servers. Only play chess in person, like back in the day when I derived real pleasure from it when I was a kid.

N)     No newspapers or magazines. They just try to scare you. I don’t need to be scared if I’m trying to be happy. And gossip rags just make me feel  jealousy, or vicarious pleasure instead of real pleasure.

O)     No more TV. For instance, I love “LOST”. But now I get anxious when a plane experiences turbulence. And I love “Californication” but now I think everybody I know is having sex all the time with David Duchovny or Rick Springfield.  I don’t even like to think random girls on the street that I don’t know are having sex with Rick Springfield

P)      No more bagels or cookies. They are too hard to digest for me. Who needs the agony in the middle of the night?

Q)     Don’t eat past 4pm. Same reason.

R)      Don’t wear dark clothes. Only wear only white clothes. Like Mark Twain did after his wife died. I feel happier when I’m wearing white. Unfortunately, very few people (Tom Wolfe? And even then its probably an affectation of some sort) wear only white. People would say, “oh, that’s like Tom Wolfe”, if I did it. So it would start to ruin my pleasure from it. And on TV (see above), wearing white is a big no-no I was just told.

What would I become? Would I even be human anymore? Would people stop liking me? Would I stop liking people? Would I just disappear? Would I be uncontrollably anxious? Or would I be relaxed?

These are all “leaks” for me. Nothing is Black or White! There’s three ways each leak effects us: mild, moderate, intense. Mild (with emails, for instance)  is: check once a week or once a month. Moderate is check at the same time each day, respond to everything immediately, and that’s that. Intense is checking all day long, never being disconnected.

I’m INTENSE with all of the above. This is the state I think most people are in. Make your own list of leaks if different from the above.

If you are at the intense point in a leak, don’t go to elimination. If you are addicted to five pills a day you might die if you go down to zero pills right away. Just go down to moderate. If at the moderate point, just go to mild. If at mild, you can consider total elimination of the leak. Or not. Keep your small pleasures. If you want to have sex with 10 different hookers a week maybe just try going to eight before going to zero.

However, all of these things independently make me a little bit happy. I like, for instance, meeting new people on Facebook. I like getting emails. I like seeing facebook likes on my blog posts although it makes me sad if I don’t get as much as I would like. I loved the TV show “Lost”. But these are all fleeting. When an episode of Lost finished (or when the entire series finished) I was sad. I wanted more. I felt a pang of anxiousness in my stomach.

Happiness is a dominatrix teasing me with a feather and she won’t even kiss me while all of the above keep me chained and gagged to a chair in the middle of a decrepit hotel room. So maybe there’s pleasure in the masochism.  That’s ok also. I’m a bit of a masochist. But it can’t control your life. I need to take control sometimes.

Maybe every day I can move a leak from Intense to Moderate. Take it slow. Doesn’t have to be black or white. All of the items above are so intense for me it would be pleasurable to just reduce intensity. Maybe you can do it with me. Even being aware of the leaks (and labeling them “Mild”, “Moderate”, or “Intense”) is a very powerful start. Powerful starts lead to Power in the end.

Maybe the day I die I won’t be thinking of any of the above. Hopefully I’ll have balance by then and all of the leaks are mild or eliminated.

Maybe on that day I’ll see only one face in front of me… And I’ll kiss her one last time.

Enjoyed This Post? Get Free Updates

  • http://www.investingfreak.com K_

    Facebook free, barely use twitter, just on google+ to test it but might keep if “hangouts” work so I can have a video chat with James Altucher. ;)

    my leak? jamesaltucher.com 

    • http://twitter.com/composed_trade Rocco Pendola

      I have done this — not all of it — but I have killed myself in relation to social media. Two problems– Google. So you’re never forgotten. And it’s too tempting to come back. It’s an addictive, need for attention type of thing. At least for me. And Facebook makes it easy. You never really cancel. All you to do is log back in and there you are right where you left off. They suck. It’s like jumping off of the Golden Gate Bridge (I often obsess over this thought) knowing the Coast Guard has a nice bouncy net set up for you.

      • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

        I agree. It is addictive. So there is nothing wrong with any of these things, except…the addictive quality. I think I can reduce the addictive quality if i reduce the intensity to moderate or mild but keep the good things (friends, emails with enjoyable people, etc) and avoid some of the bad things (obsession on stats, follower numbers, etc).

        • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

          Btw, i would NOT trust the Coast Guard to save my life.

          • http://twitter.com/composed_trade Rocco Pendola

            Good point. At that juncture, however, I am not sure I would want them to.

            If you have not, you should see the documentary, The Brudge. It’s up your alley, from what little I “know” of you. You can basically see the entire thing on YouTube.

      • http://www.investingfreak.com K_

        if you’re serious about running from facebook you can go to help section and type delete. they give you a link for permanent deletion. 1 year and surprisingly there’s little i’ve missed (initially addiction made me go crazy when i didn’t have it)

        One research firm, Inside Network, recently reported that Facebook’s U.S. users dropped six million to 149 million during May.

  • Claudia

    Sweet but that aint happening, I’m dying first

    • http://www.investingfreak.com K_

      with your yoga? HA!! :)

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      You are much healthier than me. I’m afraid I have to call that deal off.

      • Claudia

        You can’t. It’s like the golden gate safety net thing… 

        • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

          What the hell is the “golden gate safety net thing”? Are you on astronaut pills again?

          • Claudia

            YOU KNOW WHAT? 

          • http://www.investingfreak.com K_

            haha maybe you’ll go together (not wishing bad here! NEVER!)

            PS. are astronaut pills like space icecream? :)

          • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

            Claudia has a fear of flying she “deals with” in various ways. Stay tuned for her post at ClaudiaYoga.com tomorrow.

          • http://www.investingfreak.com K_

            Always do james :).. now about that google hangout… :P

          • Loveandgratitude

            i hope you guys die holding hands :D

            (but not any time soon)

  • John H.

    I sure hope you don’t become a digital hermit – I’ve just recently discovered the joy of Altucher in this blog. It would be crappy if it went away. But I guess at some point everyone ends up like Cool Hand Luke when he yells out: Stop feedin’ off me.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I love writing on this blog. Its not an addiction for me but a passion. But checking the stats, etc is addicting. Communicating with people, making friends, etc – I like. So the key is just avoiding the negatives so they don’t drain energy. Even moving some of the things that are intense (checking for blog stats 20 times a day) to moderate (10x a day) will make me happier. I’m going to do it.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_WLMDYQOYXLELO62DYXO6KLDFDE Michael

    I will be sure to “like” all of your blog posts, I really do like them, so this isn’t a big deal. 
    I already follow you on twitter, but my written chinese is fairly limited, (numbers/places only). So, I can’t follow on the chinese twitter. And I will be sure to write a positive comment for each blog post :)  Just sending you some love.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Ha, good! That will probably help my addictions. Now about you learning some Mandarin…

  • http://twitter.com/OgFOMK Alexander B. Nuttall

    I will go through serious withdraw if I can’t laugh with your blog.  I you crack me up. In a good way.  It’s not just pure comedy, but I always learn something.  My left and right hemispheres under my brain bucket are equally thankful… I am concerned about ID.  

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Don’t worry. Writing this blog is definitely not a leak for me. Its the checking blog stats, etc that gives me anxiety. I think the blog will be better if I JUST focus on the writing (and the emails with friends, etc). Thats why I’m going to go from Intense to Moderate on some of these leaks. And going from Intense to Mild could be damaging. Everything needs to go slow when plugging a leak.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Todd-Haugen/668927570 Todd Haugen

    Hmm, leaks.  So we can define a leak as anything where you spend time because it is easy and gives instant gratification on some level but if you really took a step back you would have rather spent that time someplace else, surfing what ever your version of porn is on the net be it news, stocks, blogs, etc…  I think if you included emotions here with the word time you would have a complete set of leaks.

    Really this is what your leaks conversation is all about, are you devoting time and emotional energy where you truly want to devote it or are you letting varying amounts of time and energy “leak” away because it is easier to just read the news feed rather than really thinking about real life.  Well how a person answers this question tells you if they really want to be happy.  If they say they are doing fine and these little things don’t matter then they don’t really want to be happy because every extra minute you spend truly engaged makes the next minute that much more happy.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FVAXY5OZTYZ2D35XXYJLNEJVBI Bullocks

    It’s like The Matrix, James.  If you disconnect from Facebook, you die in real life.

  • Caromusa

    If these are leaks (for me, Twitter is), maybe you should try to moderate them at the least.
    But it’s complex. You said you wake up thinking you have to save someone’s life every day. Well maybe your blog posts are saving someone each day. At least I know they have been very useful for me. So did other blogs I’ve known on twitter. And without Twitter I may never have found the blog or known you (in this wierd virtual sense of “knowing”). So, maybe my leak ended up helping me? 
    But I agree sometimes when we are online we get lost on activities that lead us nowhere, and that’s the leak. For me it’s hard to control, I have to “watch” myself closely all the time.

    PS: when Dow hits 20 K, you will be laughing at all those who made you feel bad! My trick: if the person that makes me feel bad is an idiot, or crappy or what I call an “empty person”, or an “uninteresting person” sometimes I think their dislike is a compliment to me, because I want to be sooooo different from them. :)

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      That’s right, its the endless feeling of being lost online that is a leak. Any of these things by themselves are ok. Its just when they turn into addictions that it gets tricky. But I agree: going from Intense to Moderate with any leak is the way to go. Not to eliminate completely, which can be dangerous to the system. Its like people who stop smoking and then start yelling at everyone who smokes. They stopped smoking but still have the psychic damage.

  • http://profiles.google.com/jayzalowitz Jay Zalowitz

    Nice unintentional use of the open graph :)

  • wreckedangle

    I had the same pangs of anxiousness after every LOST episode.  Always felt that the episodes should have been 2 hours long.  How I wish they would bring that show back…..

  • http://michaelkenny.blogspot.com Mike Kenny

    i’ve been trying to not work very hard at much of anything, but work intensely on one or two really important things, for a a few hours a day, (assuming the 80/20 rule), but i find myself getting all intense about something silly, and saying, ‘you’re working hard–save it.’ i guess that’s a leak. it’s hard being lazy and easy working hard oddly.

  • http://www.736hundred.tumblr.com 736hundred

    Here’s a suggestion, maybe a challenge. Take 5 days off. 5. But prepare three blog posts for every other day while you are missing – so you don’t “lose” readers. ( doubt that would happen anyway)

    When you return write about your time off the social network grid. I think you would have a lot to write about.

    • http://www.brookefarmer.com Brooke Farmer

      He wouldn’t lose readers. But he would have a lot of sad people (like me) trying to find something else to read over their morning coffee. 

      • http://www.736hundred.tumblr.com 736hundred

        That’s why I suggested he have 3 posts ready to publish (scheduled) when he is gone. I wouldn’t want any reader to suffer withdrawal.

        I also enjoy AC with coffee. :)

  • http://www.736hundred.tumblr.com 736hundred

    Btw FB is a mental brain drain.
    I have been FB free for quite some time.
    Don’t miss it at all. There is a whole world out there with real people doing real things.

  • Jeff

    Keep sharing your thoughts, it helps some of us somehow :p  About limiting email and cutting out news, have you read The 4 Hour Workweek, and what did you think?  I’m going to post my thoughts soon on my blog (jcarl.net/blog).  I like your idea about wearing white clothes; makes me think of an NPR story from a few years ago (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=17597170) which I think is a conversation with the author of this book by a Jewish guy: http://www.amazon.com/Year-Living-Biblically-Literally-Possible/dp/0743291476

  • http://www.awkwardengineer.com AwkwardEngineer

    I <3 Kate from lost. Also, I'm addicted to checking stats, but sometimes I wonder if it's because I don't have other fulfilling things to do.

    • http://www.brookefarmer.com Brooke Farmer

      There is some truth to this. I am obsessed with my stats. But then, when I am doing something more worthwhile I often forget about it. 

  • https://jarvisapp.com/ Jay Shirley

    Do you think it’s easier to found a successful company with that level of obsessive checking?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_U5G3EQIX6VVJJPUC22TJJFQCTE VWVagabonds

    We Americans are doers.  For the most part we are the offspring of ancestors who where the one-in-a-hundred in their village to take action and leave when things got tough, as opposed to the ninety-nine who stayed behind.  They came to America, reproduced with others like them and, poof, a nation of compulsive doers was born.

    Trouble
    is, we are abysmal failures at the exact opposite. We are great at doing. We
    are terrible at refraining from doing. Said another way, our greatest
    strength is our ability to take action and do. Our greatest weakness
    is our inability to not do.

    Look at the largest problems we face
    today. Obesity. Indebtedness. Addiction. Infidelity. Violence.
    Unrestrained greed. They all revolve around our inability to restrain
    ourselves from taking action.  It is a failure of self-regulation.

    Mobile phones, Facebook, Twitter, newspapers and the grand-daddy of them all, television, appeal to our nature by providing the illusion of doing, but what they really do is distract us from meaningful action.  On a moment-to-moment basis they appear to be positive feedback loops allowing us to be more efficient and connected because, well, they can make us more efficient and connected.  When we take a step back and think about life before mobile phones or Twitter we realize that on the whole they are little more than highly technical distractions. 

    By giving in to the constant stream of distraction we are relinquishing control of our most important asset – our thoughts.  The habit of refraining from eating after 4:00 PM is a great example of practicing self-restraint.  Elimination of these other distractions allows us to slowly, gradually regain control of our own attention. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_U5G3EQIX6VVJJPUC22TJJFQCTE VWVagabonds

    We Americans are doers.  For the most part we are the offspring of ancestors who where the one-in-a-hundred in their village to take action and leave when things got tough, as opposed to the ninety-nine who stayed behind.  They came to America, reproduced with others like them and, poof, a nation of compulsive doers was born.

    Trouble
    is, we are abysmal failures at the exact opposite. We are great at doing. We
    are terrible at refraining from doing. Said another way, our greatest
    strength is our ability to take action and do. Our greatest weakness
    is our inability to not do.

    Look at the largest problems we face
    today. Obesity. Indebtedness. Addiction. Infidelity. Violence.
    Unrestrained greed. They all revolve around our inability to restrain
    ourselves from taking action.  It is a failure of self-regulation.

    Mobile phones, Facebook, Twitter, newspapers and the grand-daddy of them all, television, appeal to our nature by providing the illusion of doing, but what they really do is distract us from meaningful action.  On a moment-to-moment basis they appear to be positive feedback loops allowing us to be more efficient and connected because, well, they can make us more efficient and connected.  When we take a step back and think about life before mobile phones or Twitter we realize that on the whole they are little more than highly technical distractions. 

    By giving in to the constant stream of distraction we are relinquishing control of our most important asset – our thoughts.  The habit of refraining from eating after 4:00 PM is a great example of practicing self-restraint.  Elimination of these other distractions allows us to slowly, gradually regain control of our own attention. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_U5G3EQIX6VVJJPUC22TJJFQCTE VWVagabonds

    We Americans are doers.  For the most part we are the offspring of ancestors who where the one-in-a-hundred in their village to take action and leave when things got tough, as opposed to the ninety-nine who stayed behind.  They came to America, reproduced with others like them and, poof, a nation of compulsive doers was born.

    Trouble is, we are abysmal failures at the exact opposite. We are great at doing. We are terrible at refraining from doing. Said another way, our greatest strength is our ability to take action and do. Our greatest weakness is our inability to not do.

    Look at the largest problems we face today. Obesity. Indebtedness. Addiction. Infidelity. Violence. Unrestrained greed. They all revolve around our inability to restrain ourselves from taking action.  It is a failure of self-regulation.

    Mobile phones, Facebook, Twitter, newspapers and the grand-daddy of them all, television, appeal to our nature by providing the illusion of doing, but what they really do is distract us from meaningful action.  On a moment-to-moment basis they appear to be positive feedback loops allowing us to be more efficient and connected because, well, they can make us more efficient and connected.  When we take a step back and think about life before mobile phones or Twitter we realize that on the whole they are little more than highly technical distractions. 

    By giving in to the constant stream of distraction we are relinquishing control of our most important asset – our thoughts.  The habit of refraining from eating after 4:00 PM is a great example of practicing self-restraint.  Elimination of these other distractions allows us to slowly, gradually regain control of our own attention.

    • Anonymous

      without being rude do you really still believe in American Exceptionalism?

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_U5G3EQIX6VVJJPUC22TJJFQCTE VWVagabonds

        America has long enticed exceptional people to its shores.

        • Stewsam

          of which I have no doubt…

  • Jake

    I have FB, twitter, email, cable TV, and others, but never really got intense with any of them. I sometimes feel left out when I would visit FB for instance, and find that my “friends” have been so active on them and I hadn’t been on it in a month. I think the only thing I check on a daily basis is this blog and my email – even then maybe once or twice a day (except for my work email which I have to monitor throughout the day). I think I do this because I know that I’m easily addicted to such things and purposefully avoid them. I remember AOL in the old days when I would spend all day and sometimes all night in chat “rooms”. I would get all emotional about a topic and have virtual arguments with others in the “room”. 

    Life is definitely better when you limit virtual interaction. I found that for some reason walking slowly, even when in a hurry, also makes life better.

  • http://www.brookefarmer.com Brooke Farmer

    I would love to exchange handwritten letters with you, James. I’ve been trying to find someone who would actually follow through with an old school U.S. Postal Service pen pal friendship for years. Unfortunately, even when I was in Australia for two months, no one I know actually took the time to return one of my letters other than by email. 

    My cell phone was a MAJOR leak for me before I went to AU. Mainly because it was Twitter, Facebook, email, text messages, blog reading, blog stats, blog writing, all in one. Awful. I was so addicted I once gave myself a concussion writing a text message and not watching where I was going. Then it didn’t work. For two months. I went from super intense to zero overnight and it didn’t kill me. And now I sometimes leave it on the kitchen counter all day without thinking about it. 

    • Alfie

      In the Early 90s i moved into an apartment in Los Feliz. Overlooked the Greek. I was separated from my screenwriter husband and just never got around to installing a phone. So anyone who wanted to contact me would have to come over. It was a security building that required a phone. When friends showed up they pulled on  fishing line attached to a bell up at the 4rth floor where I lived.
      It was an experiment.
      I sort of think all this interconnection is a good thing. But for some reason it makes me cringe. Call me a “recovered introvert”, but hey I still write  letters.

      • http://www.brookefarmer.com Brooke Farmer

        I wouldn’t call myself an introvert at all. I just think that maybe real, live communication is healthier than all of this electronic communication often with people we’ve never met. 

        But then, I am also a big fan of real live communication with people I’ve never met. Which is why I love coffee shops and bars- all the opportunity to strike up conversations with strangers. Especially if you’re alone. 

    • ajayd

      I’d exchange letters with you Brooke…I read your blog as well and it’s wonderful.

      • http://www.brookefarmer.com Brooke Farmer

        I would love to! And thank you so much for the compliment. Send me a message on Twitter and I will DM you my email. @brooke_farmer.

  • Anonymous

    James, take a deep breath, walk away from the computer and spend time with the people that love you. I accept that you are a man on a mission, passionate in almost everything that you do, but you have to stop sometimes and enjoy the simple pleasure of being alive and loved.

    If there is one great advantage to living in the modern world, it is that we have the time to enjoy something more than the endless struggle to exist. With this freedom, we do what? -Manufacture stress and complicate the simple. -We obsess over the inconsequential. I respect that your concerns are valid for your life and I don’t want to imply that they are not valid, but I worry for your health.

    You are given but a short time on this earth and time is your most precious commodity, spend it like it matters and you will find that the extraneous will consume you less. I hope that you are following your daily practice and that you are taking care of yourself.

    Good night and sleep well.

  • http://twitter.com/kamalravikant Kamal Ravikant

    Here’s one exercise I tried, you might find it interesting.  Any leak I want, all leaks accepted, but I only get a small finte amount of time per day for them *total.* So, for example, I only get 20 minutes a day for all my leaks combined – I used the stopwatch on my iphone to keep track.  

    Makes you realize very quickly which leaks have the strongest pull.  And also forces you to choose between which guilty pleasure you want, because, like life, time is limited.  I naturally found myself eliminating the leaks I got the least utility from.

    • Anonymous

      toggl.com is wonderful for this as well…

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Great idea. Maybe I,ll try a schedule with each leak

  • Bob

    You lost me at 1800 friends.

  • Anonymous

    I sail, every couple of months I sail off for one or two weeks, with the only communication device being my HF/side band radio, (which is legally required), it’s true freedom, one day I’ll sail off and never come back…

  • BrianSJ

    Ref the bagels (and other matters) you might want to visit
    http://missinghumanmanual.com/ and look at the paleodiet  stuff. (apologies if old new, I’m new here).

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      People keep recommending this paleo diet. I’m going to have to check it out

  • http://profiles.google.com/adan1950 Adan Lerma

    very nice ;-) 

    i don’t even want to take it apart as to why or how not quite so etc

    nice, very nice ;-)

  • http://www.dinosaurtrader.com dinosaurtrader

    Based on the message of this post, I’m guessing that you won’t respond to this comment.

    So I’m not going to leave it. It doesn’t exist.

    But anyway, you might like this. http://www.newyorker.com/humor/2011/03/28/110328sh_shouts_weiner

    -DT

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      First off, that link was hilarious. Second, responding to comments on this blog is one of the things I want to do MORE of, particularly if it’s a dinosaur trader comment!

  • Mahesh

    James,
    looks like one day you are going to do a “Forest Gump”  on your blog followers :)

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Never. Writing the blog itself is one of my true pleasures

      • Mahesh

        thank you James, because I am addicted to your blog 

  • http://www.736hundred.tumblr.com 736hundred

    Don’t worry about what you miss on the Internet. It will await your return. If not, you can always google it later. That’s why all these social networks should take up less time instead of more.

    It’s all within your own control, it’s optional. Thank God for that, because I would rather die than to be forced to FB every free moment of my life.

  • Anonymous

    Glen O’Brien, the “Style Guy” in his book “How to be a Man” says “friends” on Facebook are NOT friends, they are “digital acquaintances.” 

  • http://www.brigidslipka.com Brigid

    Location is a huge tool to plug leaks. We set up our TV in the basement (yah, I’m in the burbs) and now I never watch it. Moved my blog stats windows to the lower half of my dashboard, under the comments and list of drafts, and now I get involved in those first and rarely get around to checking the stats. I charge my phone outside the bedroom so I don’t see it first thing and start checking on the blather roll before I even get out of bed.

  • Landon Zabcik

    “From now on if anyone challenges me on TV I’m going to challenge them to a fist fight.”

    LOL, please do this, I would love to see their reactions :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/LJHasselberger Lynn Johnson Hasselberger

    Just when I thought I had it under control … now there’s Google+ and EmpireAvenue and everyone says I have to sign up or get left behind. Really? Great post, James. Much to consider.

  • wsc

    cnbc fight club…classic line, also a great recovery by whatshisface…

  • Anonymous

    At first I thought this was selfish, because you would be alienating a lot of people that don’t know you personally.  But, I wonder if that really matters.  I’m not an addict to social media, but I like checking facebook once or twice a day (I rarely post, just view, and usually in the bathroom) and seeing what people are up to, new pics, etc.  I would miss that.  The funny thing is, almost all of your amazing experiences that you write about are from the days way before social media, and in many instances even before email.  Those experiences only happened by being out in the world.  It would be an interesting experiment that I don’t have the guts to participate in.

    Why not remove the likes function all together.  Who cares.  You don’t write this for money, and you clearly aren’t using it to enhance your popularity, so why use that as a scorecard if it bugs you.

    • http://www.facebook.com/james.altucher James Altucher

      I think for me, the issue is not really total elimination but taking the intensity down a notch on some of the negative aspects. And certainly not all aspects are negative. But its also an itnerestin mental exercise for me to imagine what would happen if there was total elimination. 

  • Anonymous

    Just started reading Jesus’ Son after you suggested it. The final line in every Denis Johnson story is perfect. Love it. ty

    • http://www.facebook.com/james.altucher James Altucher

      Best book ever. Its disguised as a collection of short stories when they really could’ve packaged it as a novel but the reality is its all autobiography. Its just great. 

  • A Sartorialist

    You can only wear babyblue clothes. I love that colour and wear it a lot (and combine it with green a lot)
    You’ll probably need a bit of a tan though.

  • Kevin M

    I was wondering if you were going to use the term “balance”, which is what I was thinking the whole way through. It is fun to interact with others – online or in person. Is one really better or worse?

    Blogs are definitely my leak, but I justify it by telling myself I am learning something from most that I read. Except like the Oatmeal and Dilbert which are basically just entertainment.

    Great last line, by the way.

  • http://twitter.com/lovejoytwits Cyndy Lovejoy

    I turned off Facebook for a while, just deactivated my account.   I kept running into happy smiley pictures of my ex and his wife #2 and since I was hoping he was mired in abysmal guilt, his cheerful visage did nothing to assure me of his misery.   So, I lasted for about 3 weeks off FB.  Then I missed everybody and turned it back on.    It IS kind of the new way to meet and connect with people in this world.  Just like the pony express was so cool back in its day.   There’s a super old lady who lives in Cannon Beach, OR, she used to run the mail express on pony, up and down the coast there!   Wild. 

    But, we do need to manage our leaks, not the other way around. 

  • 阿凡提

    To answer your question, someone out there speaks Mandarin.  But since you insist, I won’t add to your  Weibo followers. 

    I agree with your advice on gradually plugging leaks rather than attempting to do so instantly.  Do you subscribe to the theory that willpower is a limited resource?(ie if one resists temptation in one area they may find it harder to resist in another).  Of course willpower can be limited but still expandable.

    • http://www.facebook.com/james.altucher James Altucher

       I don’t think willpower is a limited resource. What I do think is that willpower is a muscle like anything else and needs to be exercised in order to expand. Exercising can start with simply labeling items, “intense”, “moderate”, “mild”. Step 2 is figuring out how to take an item from (for example), “moderate” to “mild” and it doesnt have to be all at once. (pick one item a day). I have another post on this coming today or tomorrow.

      • 阿凡提

        Willpower as a muscle- I like that metaphor.   

        Like muscular strength, at any given point in time willpower is relatively limited.  One can only bench press so much today .  With the right mind set, they might be able to get out a couple extra reps, but if they  try to go too heavy too fast, they could injure themselves.  But by adding a little weight each time(combined with rest and nutrition), in time they will lift freakishly heavy weights.

        On a related note people can redirect obsessive tendencies, or overcompensate for weaknesses and past failures in many interesting ways.  Sometimes the results are extremely high performance, success and happiness.  Other times, merely new self destructive behavior.

        I look forward to your upcoming post.  Labeling leaks followed by gradually reducing their severity.  I must admit I never thought of that…

      • 阿凡提

        Willpower as a muscle- I like that metaphor.   

        Like muscular strength, at any given point in time willpower is relatively limited.  One can only bench press so much today .  With the right mind set, they might be able to get out a couple extra reps, but if they  try to go too heavy too fast, they could injure themselves.  But by adding a little weight each time(combined with rest and nutrition), in time they will lift freakishly heavy weights.

        On a related note people can redirect obsessive tendencies, or overcompensate for weaknesses and past failures in many interesting ways.  Sometimes the results are extremely high performance, success and happiness.  Other times, merely new self destructive behavior.

        I look forward to your upcoming post.  Labeling leaks followed by gradually reducing their severity.  I must admit I never thought of that…

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/derekdodds Derek Dodds

    I love this post because I think about these things all the time. I really question if all the additional virtual connections are adding value to my life or to other’s lives. It’s hard to know unless people tell you, but perhaps it doesn’t matter if they tell you, but I sure like it when they do. You are adding value to mine James, not every post, but more often than not I find something that deepens my river or brightens my landscape. Still I wonder, was that comment more for me or for you. Maybe it’s for both of us and that’s just fine.

  • willywonka

    I have no facebook or any of that crap.  Your leak is that you are insanely insecure and desperate for approval from strangers on facebook or your blog posts?
    Does that seem healthy to you?

    Here have some chocolate.

  • Priceat

    I find it impossible to stalk my ex-girlfriends without the use of social networking. If you can think of an altenative means, I will begin paring down my list of leaks.

  • Michael

    A good friend has an old high school buddy who basically dropped out of society over 25 years ago. No TV. No radio. No newspaper. No telephone. No car. No family. No Job (his parents died and left him a house and enough money to not work anymore). The guys is basically a hermit, who sends all his time tending to his backyard garden. My friend only goes to see his buddy about 1 time per year. Well, about 1 year after the 9-11 attacks, I bet my friend that his buddy had no idea about 9-11. He said I might be right. So the next time he drove over to his house he asked him about  9-11. This guy had no idea about it and no interest in any of it when my friend started to explain what happened. I would say this guy is basically in his own demented world. He took the drop out of society idea to an extreme. Now this guy doesn’t live in the backwoods of Montana or something like that. He lives in Buena Park, California. In highly populated Orange County, a very short drive to Disneyland in Anaheim.

  • Liberatore Celio

    reading your blog makes me anxious

  • Kellyrobert119

    funnt article brilliant as most usual…i had to comment i put on a white shirt this week and said this is only color shirt i shuld wear ..i felt great in it!

  • http://twitter.com/OneHedge2011 Gold Standard

    My own experience is that, by and large, I am unconnected to social media and to people. It is my nature. I avoid most people most of the time. I was married for 20 years but she worked a lot and largely ignored me. My family would like to see more of me but I find the interactions awkward at best. I was on Facebook a while but other than a few family members had no friends. If forced to socialize I’m pleasant if not witty. I prefer not to. My leak has become twitter, although I have few followers other than spam bots. I live alone in a nice 4 bedroom house in a quiet community in Michigan, have a hot girlfriend, and have a rewarding profession. I grew up in front of TV and love music. I speak to my cats often, and like horse racing and financial markets. I have never striven to be happy as that is not my nature. To me, happiness is freedom from stress, peace and quiet, avoidance of the idiocy and judgement of others, and a whopping big TV set. Also, money in the bank, and gold and silver coins. And health. World peace would be outstanding but that depends on the lack of insanity of others, which, sadly, is increasing like the national debt.

  • Samcarmx

    Yes. I think you’d be a hell of a lot happier if you gave up (in order of importance) TV, Twitter and Facebook, email (except to crucial family and friends), ditto the phone, newspapers and magazines. These will make you deal with concrete reality and take you away from cyber reality and wastes of time in this precious life. Happiness is being with the people you really love and admire, along with reading the great minds past and present, and a close relationship with the Eternal. Also, spend time in nature–preferably alone. This gives spiritual strength and insight.

  • Stc_gtmacarie

    strange person! you spent HOURS to write on blog about HOW TO LEAVE the net! what a stupid!