The Focus War

In the 18th century when the Americans were entrapped in the Revolutionary wars, a lot of fighting went on. A new enemy was born each day and the fighting frankly, got worse and worse. The army was distracted and Britain kept hitting them off frontlines each passing day.

One man, Nathan Hale, volunteered himself to ‘regain focus’ for the American fighter boys. He was to disguise as a Dutch teacher and leak vital intelligence from the Britons to the Americans – a crime punishable by death by the Britons. Nathan reported a lot of British army advances which helped the American army rout the Britons but that sacrifice cost him his life. Before he was hanged, he muttered the ‘one life’ speech from which we have today the phrase ‘YOLO’ – I Believe.

Nathan teaches a great lesson, that to win the focus war, you must dig deep into your enemy, understand him and then fight him.

I have lost the focus war, I keep battling to keep my head on assignments, I keep forgetting to call source X for details on Story Y and before I know it, I’m scooped. In my line of work, focus is everything!

I toggle over tweets when I should be gathering information, I marvel at instagram photos when I should be attending and paying attention to meetings, Facebook posts drain the work mojo out of me and just when I think I’m ready to start working, a foursquare update close to my office comes in and off I go.

The cycle of distraction from social media has gotten to my head and frankly I can’t take any of it. I can’t tell you how many times I have had to keep drafts of my work to listen to a friend wail on my whatsapp – Yes, I get friends are relevant but work is important too. The total sum of all these distractions is that I have lost track of my life. In the past months, I have lost touch with a great deal of sources, some, when we meet, wonder if I still do journalism.

So I went on a house cleaning rota to wipe out distractions.

I am taking a social media break! Yes, you heard right, I will be off my gadgets for a month. I won’t bother reading tweets, updating my facebook or even checking my whatsapp – infact I have de-activated these until I need them again.

I need focus, more so in this month when I have a burning project to complete.
The journey on this break will be a rewarding one, I hope. I intend to revive good old cultured ways of meeting people when I want to see them, sharing coffee, hearing their life stories and not just a 140 character description of how they feel. I hope to gain more human intelligence.
Most importantly, I hope to gain focus of my life and understand the role of social media in it.
We all need this moment in our lives, I’m glad mine is here.

A toast to a journey of a month off social media!

A portrait of Nathan Hale before he was hanged. I need this in my room.
A portrait of Nathan Hale before he was hanged. I need this in my room.


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1 comment
  • Lol! I think you are failing already! I just saw your tweets… unless of course you plan to start in July. Here is the thing. I find myself in the same predicament as you. BUT. I completely deleted my facebook account two years ago (so good ridance to that!) and I deleted my whatsapp last week to test if I could really live without it… and viola I can (although I reinstalled it… but promptly deleted it again after I realised I was defeating the purpose). Twitter is still an issue. I used to have a dairy that I have neglected for the past three months… I should do something about that. I just find twitter so easy to say whatever the fuck I want… if you know what I mean… and to connect with the world. Facebook is a darn pain and a drag… I hate it.

    Since yesterday I have been contemplating adding a plugin to my laptop to help me avoid going to twitter. Still thinking it over. I will say this though, being offline is indeed refreshing. It frees up time you can use to focus on building your work relations and network with people that actually matter…I mean really matter, people that will mentor you, not people that will size your pics and tweets and whatever else there is to size up. It gives you time to read and build your knowledge. I am 100% behind your need to leave it for a while. Actually what might help is carrying out a “social audit” of sorts where you weigh the benefits of being online versus being offline. Do you get better sources offline than online, do your online contacts source stories to you, do you meet up with your online sources to develop your story? Can you do better offline than online at your job or does your online presence/profile benefit you more? If you can say yes prominently to one over the other then you have your answer.

    Personally, I already know my answer. Yes, I am going to miss the allure of being online 24/7 and stalking my exs without their knowing and the bitches that tag along, yes I am going to miss the thrill of virtually connecting to people I admire. Yes. Yes. Yes. BUT. I would much rather meet my icons in real life, and I would much rather spend sleepless nights working my arse off to be the best at what I do so I can meet the people I dream of meeting so I can in turn inspire others. I would much rather start/continue working on my dream plans right now than wait till 30 when my friends have woken up to the harsh reality of pensions and lifetime retirement. I would much rather sacrifice the pretences of rose coloured glasses now for the real thing later. Think long term my friend… very few people in our generation these days ever think that way.

    Good luck with your quest mate!



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