Social media, health, and other nonsense

Disconnectiong, values, et cetera et cetera

Yo people. Welcome back to my ProtoNewsletter, where I share not only ideas, ravings, insights, and tips of dubious usefulness, but also grammatical mistakes and odd phrasing.

It’s been a month since the last time I wrote, so you’ll have to endure a roundup of updates and reflections. Let’s-a go!

let's go

Bye social media

Some time ago, in a parallel universe, I wrote about how I decided to leave social media for a while. And when I say social media, I mean all social media. Including those that are usually considered to be mere entertainment platforms (looking at you Twitch & YouTube).

In the beginning, my goal was to disconnect for a minimum of one week. When writing that newsletter, I was already in the second week and I intended to reintroduce bits of social media confined to specific moments. Then I was like, “let’s shoot for one month.” Well, today, more than two months have passed (wtf?) and I have reintroduced absolutely nothing.

The best part is that I don’t feel the need. I used to have automatic reflex to open Instagram and Twitter after grabbing my phone, but that disappeared over time. There was only one time I thought about going back to YouTube/Twitch. I was stuck in bed for a couple of days in a physical state that didn’t encourage me to do anything else. Eventually, however, I resumed watching Adventure Time.

This lack of need triggered a reflection. More or less consciously, I’ve always taken my social media usage for granted, as if they were essential. Talking to friends, I noticed this is a shared sentiment. But, given that I felt almost no pain, I asked myself: how many other things do we deem necessary even though they are not?

Values and inconsistency

In the previous issue of this newsletter, I suggested a beautiful episode of the Not Overthinking Podcast, which also gave me the idea for this article. In that episode, they also talked about the benefits of analyzing and/or defining your values. Clarifying the things you consider essential provides you with a compass that you can use to orient your choices. You may discover you’re ignoring some of your values. Or maybe that you’re spending far too much energy doing activities that aren’t aligned with any of them.

There are no rules on how to do this exercise. In my case, I stopped a moment to reflect and:

  1. I listed potential values I consider fundamental (e.g. Health)
  2. I wrote, for each of these, what it means to me (e.g. having no pain or diseases, feeling good)
  3. I combined and restructured what I wrote until I felt satisfied
  4. I listed, for each value, the high-level actions that it translates into

I ended up with four core values. I realized that a significant portion of my energies is directed towards three of them; while I’m investing too little in “Health.”

Health translates into:

  • Having a healthy diet
  • Doing physical exercise
  • Act quickly to solve any problem

I think I’m doing fine with respect to the first pointโ€”one less thing to worry about. I can’t say the same about the other two. Starting from my tendency to ignore my problems (even health-related ones) up to my sedentary lifestyle.

This exercise shed light on the inconsistency between ambitions and actions. I wasn’t unaware, but it’s more effective when you rationally acknowledge that you’re ignoring something you believe to be important.

What did I do then?

  • I re-read the official guidelines on physical activity to understand what the scientific community recommends.
  • I got back to going out at least one hour a day, 5 days a week. It even is something I enjoy doing as it’s an opportunity for listening to podcasts.
  • I started looking for a workout routine. I’d like something minimal so that it’s easy to do consistently. I haven’t found anything convincing yet.

In short, there’s still a long way to go but at least I did something. Anyway, I suggest trying this exercise. Maybe you’ll find some inconsistencies in yourselves too.

Etcetera etcetera

I’m going back to Twitter.

Wait. I’m not contradicting what I said at the beginning. Let me explain.

Some weeks ago, I decided I want to improve how I write and also mentioned it in one of the recent articles. My plan includes training the ability to summarize.

Twitter is a great gym to do so. A Tweet forces you to condense the thought you want to express in just 280 characters. There is no room to construct an argument and the challenge is to be comprehensible even by those who don’t have your context.

So yeah, I’m going back to Twitter, but only as a publishing tool. I have no intention of getting absorbed by the feed. To remove the temptation, I set up TweetDeck to only display my posts and the compose box.

Soโ€ฆ if you haven’t yet abandoned social media and you want to start following me this is a good time to do so: @blackgins ๐Ÿ‘€


I got back to meditation. Actually, I had started a long time ago when I found the Medito app. I also wrote an article (in Italian, I’ll translate it sooner or later) on what science knows today about the effects of meditation. In the end, I lasted only a few weeks. Now I’m back at it.

What else to say? Every time I start again, I get frustrated to realize how little control we have over our thoughts.

I read How to Take Smart Notes. It talks about the Zettelkasten, confirms what I knew, and expands it. It’s targeted at whoever writes nonfiction, so essays, dissertations, articles. One of the most intriguing ideas it brings is the upturning of the writing process.

We’re used to a top-down approach that goes something like this:

  1. choose a theme
  2. research it
  3. write the text to be published

Ahrens proposes a bottom-up method where you produce texts organically starting from your interests:

  1. explore your interests โ†’ these exist regardless of your writing goals and evolve over time
  2. use your interests as a guide to regularly research and write notes
  3. notes will tend to form aggregates revolving around various themes โ†’ assemble them in a text that can be published

By doing so, you don’t need to have a clear idea from the beginning, nor you’ll have to start from a blank sheet during the writing phase. Your interests guide you and notes work as an almost-written text that you only need to refine.

I have started using Dynalist. The tragic reality is that I want to use it, but I don’t need it. I keep a couple of lists in there for the time being, but I’m painfully aware that it makes no sense. It’s disconnected from the other tools I already use. I’d like for Notion to implement something similar. But you can’t always get what you want, right? #firstWorldProblems


  • After eons, I went back to listening to Tim Ferriss’s podcast. I enjoyed this episode.
  • I started reading The First 20 Hours, which reminds me how I suck at deliberate practice.
  • I’m processing my notes from 21 Lessons for the 21st Century. I leave you with a reflection taken from the book:
    The Internet has revolutionized the world and democracies haven’t adapted yet. How could they possibly deal with new technologies? The majority of people don’t understand them. This is true both for politicians and voters. How could they make sensible decisions?

The latest content from yours truly

The quest to translate the content from my Italian website progresses. Here you have 6 more articles.

๐Ÿบ Sometimes I wonder if it’d be better to focus on quality or on quantity. I thought about that recently given that, as I mentioned talking about Twitter, I want to improve how I write. Some considerations in the latest article:

Swinging between quality and quantity

๐Ÿ“š Reading is one of my best habits. I decided to look back to understand which strategies I have used to make it an integral part of who I am.

5 strategies I use to read more

๐Ÿ’› Inspired by the podcast episode I suggested last week and mentioned above, I wrote some thoughts on the relationship we entertain with our future selves. Why don’t we love them? And how can we learn to do so?

Learning to love your future self

๐Ÿ“ Another article on the Zettelkasten method. This time I outline my system for taking notes and the apps I use.

My note-taking system โ€” apps and Zettelkasten

๐Ÿ’พ My memory is unreliable and this made me unreliable. Therefore I had to adopt tools and techniques to help me remember what I want to remember.

How I learned to never forget anything

๐Ÿ‘“ One of the most critical “organizational” habits I have is my weekly review. It gives an overview of where I am and keeps me on the right track.

My weekly review: process and Notion template