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.

By John Scalzi

I enjoy pie.

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

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.

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.

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! :)

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

> 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.”

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.

(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.

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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