The Thing I’m Giving Up For Lent, 2015

I’m not religious, but in the last few years I’ve taken to giving up something for Lent, because I like the idea of mindful deprivation of a thing you enjoy (or at the very least, just plain do a lot), with an eye toward reflecting on that thing and its place in your life. Last year I gave up junk food; a couple of years before that, I gave up Coke Zero.

This year I am giving up something a little more esoteric, but still something I indulge in quite a bit: Ego searching. As long as there have been search engines, I’ve checked a few times a day on what’s being said about me on the Internet. This hasn’t always been a positive thing (did you know that some people on the Internet don’t like me?), but by and large it’s been interesting to see how I’m seen by people who are not me and who very often have no conception of the idea that I’m out there somewhere, lurking about. I’ve ego searched so often, and for so long, that I don’t really think about the fact I’m doing it.

So it seems a prime candidate for something to give up for Lent. It’s something I do, and enjoy and to some extent informs my view of the world, so giving it up will both require me to deal with its absence, and reflect on why I ego search so much in the first place (hint: the answer is in the first word of the phrase).

So between now and Easter I’m removing my ego search links from Google, Icerocket, Twitter, and other social media. I’m also (to the extent that it’s possible) going to avoid looking at searches and stats through WordPress, so no checking in to see how many visits the site gets, etc. Basically I’m trimming down my online ego gratification to levels I’ve not attempted since Alta Vista walked the earth. I’m pretty sure I’m going to hate it, but then, if it was easy, there wouldn’t be any point in doing it.

Basically, if you ever wanted to talk about me behind my virtual back, this Lenten season is a perfect time to do it. Enjoy it, you jerks.

36 Comments on “The Thing I’m Giving Up For Lent, 2015”

  1. “What other people think of me is none of my business.”

    One of the highest places you can get to is to be independent of the opinions of other people.

    ~ Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

  2. Going without looking at your site traffic? You’re a braver man than I. I don’t think I could do it. I would crack in like a day.

    Incidentally, I’m told Twitter just implemented stats on individual tweets, so you’ll have those to look forward to when you recover from your Cadbury coma on Easter Monday.

  3. The very idea of ego-searching just seems like a great way to drive yourself crazy. If you’re a well-known person… well I’m sure you’re familiar with how people on the interwebs tend to fire off opinions that are ill-informed at best.

    It just seems like unnecessarily subjecting yourself to verbal abuse by complete strangers.

  4. Can we talk about you in front of your virtual back?

    So after previously giving up junk food and Coke Zero, was there any change in your consumption of them after Lent ended?

  5. *my 8-month old son just decided to contribute, sorry* … to admit to having an ego-based habit. If you search for me, you get a rather good stripper (with videos). I don’t mind playing second fiddle to that :) No-one’s going to confuse us, I don’t think.

    Felicity Banks

  6. likes dislikes!!!!!!!! as normal life friends like you someothers dont communication with your real friends is internet in real time and information in general! as preaty much wiith food you like beans but you dont like pasta, likes dislikes simly things in life distiction alter-ego! :)

  7. An interesting point is that the first time I encountered the concept of Ego Searching was in Arthur C. Clarke’s “The Fountains of Paradise”. In 1979.

    It’s called the Personal Interest Profile in the book, and basically lists your search terms for new stories (it predates Google, RSS feeds and the blogosphere by almost 2 decades). And of course, you’re expected to have your own name first.

  8. So, if someone makes a comment about you and you don’t hear it, did it make a sound? Hmmmmm….

  9. I am going to try to give up my addiction to online shopping. Not as esoteric, but infinitely practical as it is currently costing me about 25% of my take home pay. But the pleasure it gives me to get a “bargain” online is my own form of ego gratification. I admire your courage, and wish both of us success.

  10. So probably no running to you with “did you see this [thing] that [person] said about you online?!” either. Got it.

    May giving up the habit leave you more time for other things that bring you more joy.

  11. I should give up arguing on the Internet. Very few Internet arguments are persuasive and most simply devolve into an opportunity for both/all parties to feel superior to the other(s).

    But I probably won’t.

  12. How about pingbacks to your site? Those are, I think, places where the person at least has reasonable expectation you might want to see what they’re saying. Obvs some of those folks are the dudebros who are desperately in love with you, but I imagine there are often others who are writing something reasonable and thoughtful, with a post of yours as impetus/springboard.

  13. I haven’t given anythought to pingbacks. I’m not actively seeking them out, which I think makes a difference. Also, the number of people who do pingbacks these days is really small. Or at least it seems that way.

  14. maybe we will get more posts about writing now… I wondered how you found all this stuff people said about you. Wasn’t sure if you had jobs set up to email you or if people told you.

    your productivity will likely increase.

  15. Ooh now that’s an interesting thing to give up. I saw someone I know gave up Facebook. I was thinking of what to give up on my end and haven’t really figured something good out.

  16. Why talk about you behind your back? It’s so much more fun virtual-face-to-virtual-face.

  17. Well, I guess now is not the time to say something about your books in hopes of some acknowledgement from the Author!

  18. > I’ve checked a few times a day on what’s being said about me

    “a few times a day” seems a bit much. but (ain’t there always a but) whatever helps scalzi create even more masterpieces works grrreat for me.
    siggy line, as faintly voiced by a precious comicon PokerFace dance partner: “don’t worry. captain hammer will save us.”

  19. That’s a good one to give up, John. I should give up diet colas, but like last Lent I don’t think it will last. I’ll have to think of something else . . .

  20. I’ve thought about following your example and giving up something for Lent even though I’m an atheist.

    The trouble is, Lent keeps sneaking up on me. Being an atheist I have no real reason to keep up with the ecclesiastical calendar… so I don’t.

    There’s a bit of mindfulness I could be practising. Set alarms in my calendar to warn me that Lent is coming up and it’s time to actually think about this shit. Hmmm.

  21. (searches for Felicity Banks)

    any ego search I do is very humbling, the only person to mention me is me: a good exercise for Lent in fact. ha.

    Usually give up wine for Lent, and send a check for the average wine expenditure over six weeks to Doctors Without Borders. That way I get sobriety (overrated) personal growth (says he hopefully in the face of experience), and the satisfaction of knowing something useful was done at least.

  22. My mother gave up giving up stuff for Lent the spring after she’d had surgery and chemo. She realized life was too short to miss out on anything, even for 40 days.

    I can but follow the familial tradition.

  23. I’ve been giving up all social media for lent for 3 years now! It is extremely refreshing. Of course today I am in withdrawal because i just posted a new blog and I am dying to see how it has done on my friends pages…good luck and enjoy Lent!

  24. I’m giving up random Whatever! I have spent hours browsing this site through that, and there are by now surely better ways of spending my time (ruefully). Also bought coffee, and giving what I don’t spend to Medicins Sans Frontieres.

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