Focus means getting rid of distractions

I have gotten rid of a lot two big distractions (sex and facebook) in my life which leaves a lot more time for the good stuff. While both might seem initially innocuous activities they took quite a toll on both my free time and personality. I wanted to elaborate on each.

Loss of time and money. Well beyond the obvious loss of money that comes from dating and the time spent on actual dates (it should also be noted the time spent leading up to a date can equal the time of the date itself - Online dating only exacerbates this.). I have always thought meeting the right person had as much to do with quantity of contacts than anything else. My strategy for some time has been to cast a wide net, see what I catch and then go from there. I used to find one person to pursue, singularly focus on it and then see what happens. That directed strategy more often than not, lead to disappointment, so I adapted.
Second, and more important, is the effect it takes on my outward personality. In essence, I often bend who I am in an effort to be "desirable." It probably has a lot to do with being American (hyper-materialistic, with an over-emphasis on dating), but I often find myself adjusting my personality (and appearance) to be ever more attractive to the opposite sex. Any individual change is usually slow and modest but the cumulative effect can be great. That being said, I don't think they are all necessarily bad (I have heard some argue the entire institution of marriage largely serves to civilize males) but, when sex enters the picture my motives become more ignoble (deception is the real risk) and I bend and reshape who I am with one, very particular goal in mind. It's also to just completely forget what you wanted if you keep acting a certain way for a long period.  This is where the real problem lies.

In many ways, it causes a similar problem to sex. It's time consuming and warps what I share with the world. Though rather than skewing me to be a particular person, Facebook tends to hollow out what personality I have (except the truly exhibitionist side of me which does have a mass market appeal) leaving what I share with others rather hollow and bland. Given the wide social circle I have, I tend to chisel away  my more extreme social/political/religious views for fear of offending anyone (though I still manage to do this quite effortlessly). It also leaves a rather detailed paper trail that could be used to incriminate me at any point in the future given how freely I might comment on some posts.

Though this point has been made by others, I think it's worth repeating. It is also a rather one-sided view of people. We only project the positive (outside of asking for help from others). No one is every going to "like" a status that says I had an awful day, I am really confused, I am upset, I am mad as hell at my wife/gf. Yes, you can take some mildly cryptic, indignant stance (maybe something like "Don't yourself be a doormat") that will get a response. Sometimes, it might get a little support from concerned friends (especially from females) but it's not going to generate nearly the same response a generally positive statement or quotation. Along those lines it tends to reinforce the view that other people don't have the same problems I have. I also tend to compare myself to my most successful friends when I have absolutely no interest in making the daily sacrifices they are willing to make to ensure they progress along their career.

It has also, (aided by ubiquitous cellular a wifi connections) become the default way to deal with boredom and face a formerly natural state of solitude and personal reflection. My addiction to the site have eliminated whatever time I might have to pause and sort out of my thoughts and plan. I also too easily get sucked into never-ending political debates and can easily spend hours crafting and researching responses (this also leads to lots of time-consuming, unfocused and externally directed reading). It also serves as a distraction to help me avoid the otherwise uninteresting responsibilities of life (like doing the dishes) or from doing useful activities which usually require a little concerted effort to get started (and break the inertia of sitting in bed). Often I find myself with a two hour window to do something. It's not hard for me to get on Facebook for 45 minutes and blow the opportunity to do something I would have otherwise done.

In just the first few days without it, I have noticed I have spent my time on the things I have said I have wanted to for the past few weeks. Hopefully it stays that way.
Side note: I think I am going to quit blogging about the TED talks (unless they are truly exceptional) though I still want to continue my year long feast of them (maybe one per week would be nice). Writing about them takes up quite a bit of time and keeps me from writing about what I find the most interesting in life (and am thus more passionate about writing about). From here on, I will simply incorporate their ideas into other posts.