Bret is taking an indefinite leave from Facebook and Twitter

In an effort to produce more and consume less, I am going to take an indefinite leave from Twitter and Facebook. I am not closing my accounts, as I might return. But I will cease checking them. I really enjoy both, and Twitter particularly has been a great resource for my professional development as a teacher.

However, I find that they end up being very distracting to both my work life and my home life. I have several goals for both my professional and personal life that I would like to work on (I will not be telling you about them, though), and removing these two distractors should help me to focus on working to achieve them.

I will not be leaving social media entirely, however. I hope to blog slightly more frequently than I did last school year (and much more than this summer), I will continue with email, and I will continue with Google Plus. I am staying active on Google plus because the signal-to-noise ratio is much more favorable than Facebook and Twitter, and I find that the professional development I get from Google Plus is worth the amount of time I spend on it; Facebook and Twitter have stopped being worth it, in spite of my careful curation of my feeds.

Here is how I intend to help myself achieve this. First, I am going to delete the apps relating to Facebook and Twitter on my iPad and iPod Touch.
Second, I am going to log off of the sites on my browsers. I think that having to log in will help me from cheating on my plan.

I am not sure how long I will be gone. I am roughly aiming to be off for the remainder of 2013, although this is really up in the air.

I am going to miss my Twitter and Facebook colleagues who are not on Google Plus. There are not many of them, but there are a couple who I will really miss. Of course, I will also miss my real-life friends from Facebook, although I might be more likely to call or email them now.

Finally, Twitter sends me emails when I am mentioned in a Tweet (This has always baffled me. It seems so antiquated). I may respond to relevant ones, so my Twitter people can still get a hold of me if needed. Also, anything that I have that automatically posts to Facebook and Twitter will continue (such as updates from this blog. Actually, probably only updates from this blog).

This will be difficult for me, although I think that I will be able to do with if I take a lot of cold showers, attend my weekly meetings, and take up smoking.

Ta ta for now.

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20 Responses to “Bret is taking an indefinite leave from Facebook and Twitter”

  1. catatori Says:

    I have long suspected that telling others your goals is not a great way to achieve them.

    • bretbenesh Says:

      Can we still tell each other our goals? I suppose that we probably shouldn’t unless the other plays a role.

      On Tue, Aug 6, 2013 at 10:11 AM, Solvable by Radicals

  2. Chris Says:

    You know social media is bad when Bret is considering smoking as an alternative.

  3. Scott Sorheim Says:

    Enjoy it! I effectively quit FB and Twitter about a year ago. Just checked and my last “outbound” tweet was Aug 16 of last year. Now I use Twitter mainly for “tech/customer support” when I need it. And, maybe somewhat sadly, I haven’t even updated my FB pic to include our 4th child who is now 19 months old. Oops.

    I ditched them because I’m so much more productive in my work life, and it’s much more refreshing in my personal life to have my social interactions with people that I’m actually present with! Imagine that! I’ve contemplated Google+ for the very reason you state, but also think I could get my Twitter account where I want it if I just purged that of junk accounts.

    I also still love blogs and love to hear peoples’ thoughts on them (thank goodness for Feedly when Google Reader shut down, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to keep up with yours!) I’d much rather engage in a well thought out blog post than someone’s random tweet about the gum they just stepped in. Unless of course the gum became part of Patrick’s gum head (have you ever seen that?).

    • bretbenesh Says:

      Hi Scott,

      Congratulations on the 4th! That is great!

      I carefully culled my Twitter account of the junk accounts, and I am following a very small number of people. However, the people who post really interested things that I am interested in also post really interesting things that I am interested in. That is, I come for the interesting teaching ideas, but I stay WAY TOO LONG for the articles on politics/culture/entertainment/etc. If people would stop being so well-rounded, I could make Twitter work.

      This is less of a problem on Google Plus for some reason, so I would recommend just going to Google Plus instead of trying to make Twitter work. Or maybe I am just no good at making Twitter work, and you would do fine.

      I forgot to mention this in my post, but I am keeping Feedly. Again, we are of like mind here. I still find blogs enormously useful, and they are manageable with a good RSS feed.

      I think that I saw the gum head in high school—does that sound possible? It must be HUGE now. Bret

      On Tue, Aug 6, 2013 at 11:53 AM, Solvable by Radicals

      • Scott Sorheim Says:

        Yes, that is the gum head. Amazingly it still continues to grow. There’s a pic of it somewhere on FB…could be reason enough to keep your FB profile active!

      • bretbenesh Says:

        Curses! I could have used this information this morning, Scott!

        (I just Googled “patrick niemeyer gum head,” and it didn’t turn up. Maybe I can convince Patrick to post a picture of it on Google Plus). Bret

        On Tue, Aug 6, 2013 at 2:23 PM, Solvable by Radicals

  4. Kate Owens (@katemath) Says:

    1) 😦

    2) Will you set up an automatic Twitter update to let us know when your blog is updated?

    3) Why does everyone love Google Plus so much? I never found it that great. What am I missing?

    • bretbenesh Says:

      Hi Kate,

      Yeah, you are one of the Twitter friends I alluded to in the post. I am sad, but I need a chunk of my life back.

      But maybe I can convince you to join Google Plus. To me, it is similar to Twitter (people just post whatever), but there is opportunity to have an in-depth discussion about it. For instance, you may have seen Dana Ernst’s attempt to get a “Math Ed” category on the ArXiv. I have a 19-comment long thread right now between mathematicians and math educators discussing whether it is a good idea. This does not happen a lot on Twitter, particularly because of the 140 character limit.

      So you should join—then I get free time AND Kate! If you like, I can give you a list of math people in my circles, although you can probably just look for people who are in your Twitter feed—there is a lot of overlap.

      And, yes, I will still be sending updates about my blog to Twitter.

      See you on Google Plus! Bret

      On Tue, Aug 6, 2013 at 2:03 PM, Solvable by Radicals

  5. Dana Ernst Says:

    Yep. I stepped away from Twitter a while back and only use it on rare occasions now. When I was trying to get the ball rolling to get math ed on the arXiv, I spent a little bit of time on Twitter. Also, I really find Twitter valuable when attending conferences. The backchannel dialogue at conferences hasn’t caught on in G+ land. I still use Facebook, but don’t visit daily. My professional life spills over into Facebook, but I mostly use it for interacting with family and non-academic pals.

    • bretbenesh Says:

      I remember you scaling back on Twitter! You must have better self-restraint than I do. If I use Facebook at all, I would use it multiple times each day.

      And I agree that Twitter is nice for conference backchannels. I will likely be looking at Twitter during the JMM (even if I don’t go). I absolutely loved reading about MathFest last week, even if it made me really jealous. Bret

      On Tue, Aug 6, 2013 at 4:09 PM, Solvable by Radicals

  6. mrdardy Says:


    This is reassuring to me. I have no FB presence nor a Twitter presence in this world. I already feel that I spend too much time (like right now!) with my laptop in my lap instead of my kids in my lap. I feel that the blog format allows for more thoughtful interaction than the handful of tweets I have tried to read and blog spaces don’t seem to place any demand on interacting in real time. After reading a number of proselytizing posts about the absolute necessity of interacting through twitter, it is nice to read about someone moving the other way.

    • bretbenesh Says:

      Hello mrdardy!

      Thanks for the comment!

      I hope you will allow some inconsistency for a second: I probably wrote some of those proselytizing posts. I am a big fan of Twitter, and it has done a lot for my teaching (Facebook much less so, although that has always been more for socializing). In fact, I only found out about many of my favorite blogs through Twitter. It is a fantastic professional development tool that is available to everyone.

      That said, it is not the only professional development tool. Also, I have been on Twitter for six years, and I am well past the point of diminishing returns, particularly when you consider that Google Plus will catch at least 70% of what I would have found on Twitter.

      So Twitter is great, and I do recommend it if you have the time. But it sounds like you are wisely trying to protect your family time, and I applaud that (and I REALLY applaud you staying off of Facebook).

      It sounds like we probably prioritize things similarly in life; you are just a lot faster at realizing what it takes to achieve those priorities.

      Keep on keeping off Twitter and Facebook.

  7. Kate MacInnis Says:

    I never really got too into Twitter. (I follow a bunch of people, but I only ever look at it every few weeks.) So no tweets and more blog posts is a win for me! 😉

  8. Joss Ives Says:

    I really agree with you about the signal-to-noise ratio on twitter. I really love what the combination of twitter and the science education blogosphere was able to do for me in terms of meeting so many thoughtful educators, but once those relationships were established I found that I didn’t need to engage with everybody on twitter as much. Just like in real life, we usually move on from the mixers once we have established some relationships with the people from the mixers.

    • bretbenesh Says:

      Hi Joss,

      Well said. I am very thankful for the relationships I developed, although those relationships are now (mostly) independent of Twitter. I suppose that I am missing out on new relationships, but I am betting that the time I save will be worth that cost. Bret

      On Fri, Aug 16, 2013 at 2:10 PM, Solvable by Radicals

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