30 day challenge: no social media, no news

I realized that I didn’t mention this widely: my current 30 day challenge (July 2013) is not to read any news or social media. So no Twitter, Google News, Techmeme, Google+, Hacker News, Reddit, Imgur, etc. So if you’re wondering why I haven’t replied to a question, that’s the reason. I might still share a link if I run across something interesting, but I’m trying not to read any social media or news.

Why am I doing this? I find it to be a useful challenge. I’m crunching on a bunch of stuff and really wanted to get my head down and focus on some projects. I did this challenge in January 2013 and got a ton of stuff done. After the no-news challenge in January, I started surfing Twitter less often. I’d still check in every 3-4 days to read the tweets that people were sending my way, but otherwise I’d hit Nuzzel to skim just the most important tweets.

Longer-term, I’m trying to find a healthier approach to news and social media. On the spectrum of books to magazines to newspapers to social media with its second-by-second focus, I’d like to shift my media consumption more toward books and research. I’d also like to spend less time consuming media and more time doing things. See Clay Johnson’s Information Diet book for more about those kinds of ideas.

75 Responses to 30 day challenge: no social media, no news (Leave a comment)

  1. Hi Matt

    Is this to be rewarded in the SERP’s for my sites? ;-)

  2. Matt, will you be writing any new posts or recording webmaster videos, or just avoiding reading? I won’t expect a response for 30 days, since you’re not reading this.

  3. Lillian Smith

    Good for you! :)

  4. Amit

    best of luck, Matt.

    with these challenges, you are a taklu inspiration.

  5. Ah, makes sense now. Tried to catch you on Twitter :)

    Would G+ hangout be still considered “social media?” It’s “news” but on the other side of it – no need to read :)
    If you’re not slammed with work and it’s a “no” (not soc.media) – would July 25th work? If “yes” – how about Aug 8th?
    You now have my email if anything ;)

  6. I absolutely agree. I’ve done this, but not on purpose. I just got burnt out and it felt so good not to be in front of my computer or on Facebook as much. I saw this on Marie Forleo, although I have not verified it: According to Google’s Eric Schmidt, we human beings create as much information in two days as we did from the dawn of civilization up through 2003.

    As far as doing more things, I decided to get healthy, so this is the fifth week of taking excellent care of myself. And yes, that includes not as much time in front of the computer.

  7. Hey Matt,

    I did this a long time ago but it was about not reading the local newspapers. The place I live is way too dangerous (where most drug cartels are located in Mexico) and I came with the idea of not being aware of the news because it was driving me insane every time I wanted to go outside.

    What if I get caught in a confrontation? What if I’m running at the park at the wrong time? What it I accidentally bump into the wrong person?

    Every single time I went outside these were the first thoughts in my head so it was just driving me nuts and since I started doing this (not reading the local news) I never looked back and I can finally have a healthier (mentally speaking) life now.

    I have a quick question if you are able to read this… Do you start your challenges on any day of the month then since it’s July 13th?

    I normally try to start anything new on a Monday or on a 1st of the month but I guess that’s just an excuse to not get started right there on the spot, any thoughts on this or did I just answer myself?

    Thanks!

    Sergio

  8. So no Friendster, MySpace or Nintendo Powerglove???

    • Sathiya Kumar

      Streko, Matt Cutts already mentioned the word ‘etc’ which means ‘Twitter, Google News, Techmeme, Google+, Hacker News, Reddit, Imgur and some other sites’ ;-) :-)

  9. I did something similar with Facebook…I go on there, but I aggressively pruned my news list down to only that which I was really interested in. If someone posted stuff that I wasn’t interested in reading, I unfollowed that person. I still left him/her as a friend, but unfollowed him/her. Funny thing is that when I look now on Facebook, there are maybe 5-6 stories a day that I see, and most of them are worth looking at.

  10. That’s quite the challenge Matt in this day in age! I’ve personally found myself suffering from information overload as well, and pulling away from the noise of FaceBook and Twitter more and more to controlled circles in Google+ so that I know my attention span isn’t getting thrown way out of whack.

  11. Tom

    But reading newspaper is ok?!

  12. Good for you. You have to be really disciplined to be able to do that.

  13. Social Media reminds me of going to a bar. Lot’s talk, lots of entertainment, but very little value for growth.

    • Paul, good analogy.

      Matt, great move. Have considered something similar… maybe your lead will push me over and I will do it.

      Thanks for the note!

  14. Jp

    Wow, that’ll be so hard to accomplish! I support you, Matt. We internet-ers do need that kind of silent-relaxing time.

  15. B-but how will you know what you’re supposed to be outraged about from day to day?

  16. You are an inspiration Matt.
    I am also trying to cut down my social media time but it just seem too addictive.

  17. I don’t know how you’ll manage without social media and that is upto 30 days, It is really a challenge. I am looking forward to see the summary and conclusion of this challenge.

  18. So there is something cooking in your Google Algorithm. I think, the next update will bring the new rays.

  19. Extremely hard challenge. Haha cheers!

  20. no news about new penalties of google! Thats great news! It is summer, lets go vacations!

  21. Sounds like you’ve been talking to Tim Ferriss. Books can be dangerous too. In college I was probably reading 4 hours a day on average, mb 500 or so a year total. I’ve cut down to 30-40 and it helps a lot.

    I love audible and actually probably listen to more books now on drives etc.

  22. Hi Matt,

    Are you working on another type of google update in next 30 days.

  23. I think this should be on my bucket list. :P

  24. It pays really to spend time away from what we routinely do especially on internet, to experience peace and check what it takes to be away from the modern world. Some people said they must be dead if they would do being away from the noisy world. We need diversion sometimes, but have to get back to the real world after all haha.

    Anyway, we are the most responsible to what we are doing. If we feel we are already being consumed, emotionally and physically, of the things that are making us obsessed to doing things everyday, then we need rest and vacation to make life balance and fair.

    Thanks for this post.

  25. Social media is ridiculously addictive as is reading up daily on SEO etc. Well done to you. I honestly don’t think I could go cold turkey!

  26. I read an article on The Guardian (oh the irony) on why you should stop reading news. All of the points made there could also be applied to social networks.

    I’m sure the social networks are always trying to get more of our attention using A/B tests, new features etc. We must become addicts of the social networks so we can consume more advertisements!

    Good luck on your new challenge and i wander if you really missed out on anything!

  27. I did this with Twitter already.

    Next, I did it with Skype (I was a member of a sizable number of channels there) and lastly, I’m fighting now with FaceBook…

    The one I can’t stop using is email though – still one of the biggest distractions from focus.

    But in any case, with the above cut-offs, I was able to work and finish projects I was otherwise planning to span over a couple of months, in no more than a couple weeks, instead.

    So Matt, I can only hope you will keep sharing stuff on the blog though…

    Cheers,
    ~Steve

  28. I salute you Matt, what you are doing sounds great, me too find there are more pressing things to enjoy and worry about. I prefer to live a life in reality. I have quite a few hobbies all of which I do not share online and only in conversation. Its far more rewarding for me. Though considering your status in the SEO realm, i can’t imagine what it like to be bombarded by people. I only follow you but would never contact you as i consider it unfair. Well I could ramble on about this point, but im not. I am going to look into the Information Diet book. Sounds wonderful. Peace out.

  29. Really Brave Bro. It’s hard to me to do like you said, but that’s important because it make realize that social not only in social network, but we must came back to the begining to socialize.

  30. I’m so happy I ran across your post today, Matt. There’s always a fear of missing out on news and social media that keep people glued to his or her screen. Some of it is great but most of it is just noise… which distracts people from truly making a difference in the world.

    Our minds become too cluttered with other people’s thoughts that we find our own brains muzzled.

    Yes, a balance can be had but there are not many that can find that (or even want to try). But, trying on a 30-day challenge, like this, is perfect to get the wheels moving.

    Thank you so much, Matt. Best of luck and we’ll see you on the other side.

  31. It’s the snippets of information that I find addictive! Even though I much prefer sitting down with a good book, the little bytes of info keep me coming back for more!

  32. No Social Media would be OK for a while, but no News, I don’t know. Especially if it is Photography related news. Every day there is something new coming out and I just have to know about it :)

  33. @SaysJoeSchum

    I really like this quest. Lately it seems like social media is more of a competition and less of a conversation. I think I may join you.

  34. We are becoming addictive to social media.It gives us a perception of learning but not in reality.The major problem is with your concentration. Interesting challenge to yourself.

  35. Not a bad idea. Less social media, more research… no more checking my smartphone every minute. I guess everybody knows what i mean :)

  36. Great Decision, Nowadays Google did lots of job for Spam Control. It’s a good source of knowledge “Information Diet”.

  37. I tried this when I was preparing for last year at university, and is absolutely incredible, like Matt said, you basically get tons done.

  38. Goodluck with your challenge,

    I find myself just reading news for hours on end, i would never be able to do a thirty day challenge like this

  39. Wow. That must be tough for you with your role. I must admit, I dip in and out of social media and news as time allows. If I didn’t do this, I could end up wasting a lot of time reading content and not working!

  40. Good luck on the new challenge. Thanks for sharing the book.

  41. Sounds like it will be a tough challenge, I’m sure you will be able to do it. I should try this sometime I would get so much more done in a day.

  42. Since my position is the Social Media Coordinator at an advertising agency, it would be extremely difficult to give up social media for 30 days! However, when I leave the office, all social media turns off. I never get on Facebook, Twitter or any of my other social media sites after hours and never on the weekend except for the occasional Instagram. It’s a nice break and I like getting the news the old fashioned way, from the news! Maybe one day I can give up social media for an extended period of time.

  43. hey,
    That’s a pretty good idea but you are probably lost at this time.
    But it’s the perfect time for u to realize some new posts on ours favorite search engine :)

    good luck bro !

  44. I can handle giving up social media every now and again, interesting posts draws me in and ten minutes later i’m looking at something totally irrelevant and then I wonder what i’m actually doing. Like you guys say, if you take a break from the social stuff you can rejoice in all the extra time you get! :)

  45. I would struggle with this. Facebook would be the hardest to lose. Mind you, I think I am addicted to the internet!

  46. Hi Matt. Am doing so similar myself, by slowly reducing my social media usage. What I do is actually access social media when my main tasks of the day is done. I would totally shut down all of them which I have accounts (FB, Twitter,et al) when I am working.

  47. It must be a good challenge for a successful man
    Sometimes we just can’t put information as much as we can into the brain,,More and better we have to do is reducing something so that to make the focus stand out easilier

    More “-” , Less “+”

  48. Joyce

    It’s a hard challenge especially if you’re in front of a computer.

  49. Ali

    Am I understanding this challenge correctly that it would be in fact a halt to social media and news for a period something which is assumed helps websites rank?

  50. Hi Matt

    An impossible challenge l would say myself unless you put yourself on a desert island, l can recommend one if you like?

  51. I think your effort is interesting to be followed by me. I also often interact wit social media. However I can not meet special something from it. I can want to focus to manage my blog. I hope your challenge can be successful. Thanks for your sharing Mr Mattcutts :)

  52. Cool

    I like your post its interesting but with out social media we would all have to get a life.

  53. Hi Matt!

    I appreciate your efforts, some times it become important to take such type of break from social media and news sites in order to concentrate on priorities. But I wonder if we miss any useful information during this course?? how do you managed?

  54. I can’t imagine being away from social media for a couple of days and a week sounds almost like an eternity. My family wants me to shut it down when we go away on the weekends. Maybe I will give it a try next time around.

  55. Wow Matt…! it is totally a new idea. Its seems very interesting to do. Your move is like a revolution as a lot of people joined you in the challenge. I am also one of them and going to accept the challenge for the rest of the days. I believe this will result in a mind-peace activity. I will definitely try it because i got bore with a tons of irrelevant news. Now i will try some new stuffs instead of social media. I will meet my friend face to face not on my computer or smartphone and try some live adventures. I really appreciate your(Matt) move. Good luck to all who accepted the challenge.

  56. Nice idea !
    I might think about doing the same… let’s try with just 1 day for now :-)

  57. Breaking yourself apart from news and social media sounds very hard to do. Did you also stop watching news on TV during your “social media diet”?

    In rest, thank you for the tip. I’ll check Clay Johnson’s Information Diet book.

  58. This is an amazing challenge. I cannot believe how addicted people can become to technology like social media. I use social media websites for business purposes everyday. I will see how long I can go without getting connected.

  59. Vicky

    Great project. I’ve been down this road recently and vowed to return methodically and not to the same level of distraction. I wish I could say that I was successful :| I hope you’re priorities get a little easier with each effort. Cheers!

  60. Some life coachers will charge you $$$ for the same ‘social media silence’ course. You do it on your own and save. Good luck!

  61. Kakii

    Hi Matt,

    I do not read news papers, listen to or read the news, haven’t done in around 5 years now. I only look at film and gaming news, nothing else, I didnt know the UK had a new PM for about a month till someone mentioned it! I also do not have any form of social media inc Facebook, people do find my whole view a bit odd, however I’m happier for it and enjoy my life more without these distractions.

  62. This is an awesome challenge. These days most people can’t even think about not having social media without having a panic attack. Good for you.

  63. I doubt you will read my question, but does this mean that you will be staying away from digital media and news or news in general… I wasn’t sure if you were trying to read the actual newspaper or anything in print opposed to digital everything… I think that real print is a dying trade. Even though I think the Kindle or Nook is a great idea, more convenient, less weight, I like real books. Just my personal opinion. I salute you on your challenge and wish you luck :)

  64. Hope it wasn’t too hard! I am going to give this a try to as I find I am always on Facebook or Instagram and I never get any work done!

  65. I tried something similar with Facebook and Twitter, mainly because i wanted to see the effect it would have on communication. In the end it doesn’t matter what you do but what your circle of connections do. If there’s a party for example, i guarantee if you’re not on twitter or Facebook you won’t hear about it untill the morning of the party. People have become lazy in their communication habbits and if you’re not on their immediate communication channels they won’t bother.

  66. Congratulations Matt,
    This may be a small step for you, but a good example for humanity.
    :)

  67. Hi Matt,

    Your challenge will at least help you understand the Chinese internet user a bit better. I have been on a business trip here for a few weeks and facebook, twitter and youtube are all blocked by the PRC’s great firewall of China. It is quite frustrating trying to deal with other people in countries where the material isn’t blocked and people expect you be able look at these services freely. China is potentially the largest internet user nation in the world with over 1.6bn people but at the moment it is really only Google.hk that is available for search in mainland china. Does Google take into account this social media blocking factor when ranking sites in China?

    Kind Regards,

    David Coleman

  68. @SaysJoeSchum

    I woke up this AM to complete my 30th day of self-imposed #socialmedia cold turkey. A very interesting and uplifting experience. I can’t say that I was able to meet my own challenge of staying off news sites, but did limit them to just a few and only accessed them at the very beginning or very end of my day. I did eliminate the distractions of twitter and LI and even stopped playing around with Vine and Snapchat! While I may have missed one or two important missives out there, in the end I focused more, wandered less and enjoyed a bit more of my work and personal life. Oh, and I only dropped 3 pts on my Klout score. (chuckles)

  69. Is a good challenge! After 10 years of no holiday and working 24/7 I decided that I was in need of a 30 days challenge like this. Took family, tent and car and drove through all of Europe. It was the best time ever. I would do it again… the preparation and aftermath was hell, but hey I had the best time EVER! Hope it was the same for you Matt!!

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