The Great New Year's Purge: Quality Content Over Quantity

Jan 07, 2016


Here we are, folks: 2016. It seems like we were just putting those holiday lights and New Year's banners up, and now we're taking them all down and stuffing them away in storage sheds until next year. While it might be sad to see Christmas trees lying by the curb and empty champagne bottles filling recycling bins, just remember: the new year is upon us, and according to every retail and media giant, that means it's the perfect time to reinvent yourself. Break out the resolutions!

Sigh...

If you're anything like me, you hate New Year's resolutions. They always seem to be just a touch too ambitious. Still, I love the idea of starting fresh every year. That's why, when December 31st rolls around, I try and come up with a goal that helps me start the year out right. When I was younger, I always went with the tried and true, "this year I'm going to get in shape," resolution. I'd say, "I'm going to the gym at least 5 times a week all year." As I got older, I started making my resolutions a little more "doable." For example, this year, I've decided to stick with the general wellness theme of getting in shape, but instead of toning my physique, I'm toning my digital prowess.

Here's the thing. Right before the new year, I read a report from Pew Research that rattled the way I view the online landscape, and more specifically, how much time I spend in it. The report noted that about 20% of Americans go online almost "constantly." That's 1 in 5 Americans who feel they are online all the time. Furthermore, 47% of Americans go online multiple times a day. And to break it down even further, 36% of 18- to 29-year-olds go online almost constantly and 50% go online multiple times per day. My Millenial cohorts are just swiping and clicking their days away.

In my last column of 2015, I played with the idea of deleting all of my social media accounts as a way of easing my holiday blues. I posited that if I banned myself from social media sites I would become happier, and would spend more time connecting in real time with friends and loved ones. Here's the problem with my hypothesis: It was really hard to test. I've been going on Facebook on a daily basis for over ten years now. It's part of my daily routine. And more so, I don't like the idea of being completely disconnected from the digital world I've spent years building.

So I came up with a new resolution for 2016: instead of deleting these accounts all together, I will take small steps to limit how much time I spend on these sites, and will therefore reduce the amount of energy I expend sifting through hundreds of tweets and statuses a day. Honestly, after about 2 weeks of curtailing my social media appetite, I'm feeling pretty good, and the time I do spend online feels less meandering and unguided.

First, I deleted all the social media apps from my iPhone. Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Tumbl are gone. Within mere hours, I found myself picking up my phone and looking for little colored boxes that weren't there. And still, even though it's been a while since I deleted these apps, I still find that I have to correct the impulse to go through this ritual again and again.

Second, I changed the password settings for all of my accounts from "remember me" and "keep me logged in" to the generic "log in" homepage, and then deleted the easy to find bookmarks at the top of my browser. Now, every time I want to go on Facebook, not only do I have to type the entire URL into the search bar, I have to type in my email address and long password as well. It's amazing what adding a few more seconds to a log in can do.

Lastly, I changed my notification settings so I only got an email if something really, really important happened on one of these sites (like someone wanted to friend me). And then I took it one step further-I purged my entire email inbox as well. Have you heard of Unroll.me? If you haven't, you have to check it out. Once you give Unroll.me access to your email account, it shows you just how many email subscriptions you have, and gives you the option of keeping the subscription, unsubscribing, or rolling the subscription into a weekly newsletter. I had 96 email subscriptions. Today, I have 20.

For me, this is what my New Year's purge boils down to: spending better quality time online, rather than spending hours scrolling through an onslaught of social media posts and subpar news content. And this is what media companies and brands should be focusing on as well in 2016. Instead of getting a user to jump in and out of 20 low quality pieces of content, why not funnel your energy into creating one piece of really good content that someone can engage with, maybe even leave a comment on and share with their friends. So no excuses, everyone-let's revamp our online habits, all make a 2016 resolution that this is the year of quality over quantity.


Related Articles

This month, I finally pulled the plug on the dead-tree version of my Sunday paper. I meant to do it for months, but at long last, I couldn't stifle the guilt for even one more second. It was too sad to watch while the paper slowly rotted at the end of the driveway or simply ended up--unread--in my recycling bin every week.
It's a strange time for journalism. We have more outlets than ever before. Mobile, social, and cloud tools have transformed the craft--and the business-letting us reach more people than ever before. We can have two-way conversations with our readers. We even know our audience at a granular level.
Back in the golden days of tech blogging, there were a handful of intrepid entrepreneurs who started successful tech blogs. It was an easier undertaking back then. Today, it takes cash to scale, and even strong brands struggle to keep up.