Day One

I’m journalling my 30 day Attention Recovery program. You can follow my progress here.

This week my Facebook account was hacked. I can’t re-activate it without a code sent to a mobile phone number I haven’t owned for a decade.

Two days ago I de-activated my Twitter account. I’m using this as an opportunity to go social media “cold turkey” for 30 days.

This is day one of my month long effort to recover my shattered attention.


I wrote recently about my struggle to read novels over the past year. Part of that struggle is how my ability to concentrate has been affected by the internet.

2019 is the year we’ve learned the full nasty tale of how social media “hacks” our mind and body – exploiting dopamine responses and other biochemical triggers – to physically and psychologically addict us to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc.

I’ve been aware that my social media usage had gone from net positive to net problem for at least two years. After my summer travels in Europe, I’m back “home” in Bali planning my business for 2020. And in making those plans I’ve had to admit some things to myself.

I’m not reading fiction.

My meditation practice is dead in the water.

Writing is slower and less creative than a year ago.

My sleep is broken and poor.

I’m wasting vast amounts of time on social media.

Linking all of these issues is one factor – a factor I spent some time studying through Buddhist meditation – and a factor I guess we’re all struggling with.


I need to recover my attention.

Killing my social media usage is just step one.

Making my Kill List.

My name is Damien. And I’m a Twitter addict.

I’m fortunate I have few addictions. I don’t drink, smoke, take narcotics of any kind.

But I have to be honest with myself – social media meets all the criteria for a real addiction that is negatively impacting my life.

And I get the feeling I’m not alone.


For the next 30 days I’m going to be journalling this process of Attention Recovery in this newsletter.

I don’t know exactly what the attention recovery process will be. But I suspect it will include:

  • killing all social media for the next 30 days.
  • reading full books, fiction and non-fiction
  • reviving a sitting meditation practice
  • home cooking
  • PLUS more activities that extend and deepen attention TBC

You’re invited to join the Attention Recovery process. I’m guessing that most of you are struggling with attention as much or even more than I am. Drop a comment on this post with your thoughts on Attention Recovery, let’s work on recovering our attention together.

Love Not Likes is a charity working on social media addiction with young people. They also sell cool t-shirts.

Published by Damien Walter

Writer and storyteller. Contributor to The Guardian, Independent, BBC, Wired, Buzzfeed and Aeon magazine. Special forces librarian (retired). Director of creative writing at UoL, published with OUP and Cambridge. Currently travelling the world and writing a book.

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