A part of maturing, upgrading one’s life and giving it meaning is switching from meaningless, mindless stuff (watching TV, browsing 9gag, gossiping, drinking) to meaningful stuff (reading, creating, meeting great people). And there’s a problem with this.
There are two ways to approach change: you either start doing something new and find out that the old thing just doesn’t make sense for you anymore; or you do it the other way round – you find meaningless activities, well… meaningless, so you ditch them and start trying to find some other filler for the empty space you just created.
The problem is that if you’re not careful, you can make your life so empty you’ll go CRAZY. The thing is: once you realize some activity is mindless and pointless, you’ll generally either stop doing it, or keep trying to do it but discover it’s no longer that fun.
What you miss here is that even though some activities are meaningless and/or mindless, they usually have multiple purposes, some of them not obvious – and only after you stop doing something, you discover the emptiness in areas of your life where you never ever anticipated it would appear.
It hit me recently, and hit me hard. I quit my job and quit drinking (I’ll follow up on this subject later) at the approximately same time. After the initial excitement wore off, I realized my social life was reduced to naught. Consider this: a day at the office grants you about 40 man-hours of social contact alone and includes several different kind of interaction (sitting together in the same room; technical discussions; bonding during lunch hours; and even some office politics). A drunk party adds about the same amount (depending on the kind of parties you attend). With the lifestyle I used to have this easily added up to 300 man-hours of social contact a week. Right now it’s more like 10 man-hours of real life contact plus 30 hours of goddamn fucking Facebook Chat.
Now, here is the catch: thousands of years of evolution created a mechanism in our brains which causes great distress whenever we become separated from the rest of the group. It’s wired so deep inside our psychology that the very feeling of loneliness causes a multitude of negative symptoms, of which hypertension, stress and constant anxiety are the most common.
Cutting a survival-critical metric tenfold in three months is never a good idea. In fact, it’s so dumb I can hardly forgive myself for this.