In April of last year I officially quit the Silicon Valley swamp. No more writing about tech awfulness, no more social media, no more obsessively hitting refresh on breaking news sites. After almost two decades living and breathing tech industry toxicity, I was done.

Without the distraction of tech awfulness, I suddenly found myself with acres of reclaimed time. Time which previously had been spent giving a fuck about Travis Kalanick or Elon Musk or whether Donald Trump had tweeted something terrible.

It would be easy to write a post about the joys of quitting social media, or escaping the tyranny of breaking news sites. But it would also be a waste of words and time. I don’t want to spend another moment thinking about any of that stuff.

Instead, in the hope of perhaps inspiring somebody else (you?) to climb out of the swamp, I wanted to share a very incomplete list some of the things I’ve been able to do in the past fifteen months absent the endless and meaningless distraction of social media, online breaking news, and sharing photographs of my cats*.

Here then is an incomplete list of the things I’ve accomplished in the past year and a bit, without tech distraction…

    • Finally got my Green Card.
    • Written the first draft of a novel. Thrown most of it away. Worked with the incredible Lisa Cron to learn the mechanics and psychology of story. Written the first half of a different novel.  Rewrote again. And again. Found an agent who thinks he can sell it. Still writing the fucking thing.
    • Co-founded a company. Raised more than $2m in venture capital. (This isn’t quite true: Really it was Sarah who did almost all the work of raising money. I mostly sat in the meetings, nodded sagely, and figured out how to connect the laptop to the projector.)
    • Read ~200 books, mostly fiction. This month I’m reading only funny books, written by female authors. This week that means Cold Comfort Farm and Julie Hecht‘s Do The Windows Open?  I’ve also subscribed to a dozen or so print magazines, and three daily newspapers. It really is astonishing how much actual reading I’ve been able to get done without social media distraction.
    • Visited my brother and his wife in Quebec. Realised my French is appalling. Found a French tutor. Got a lot better at it. ( Si tout le reste échoue, je devrais pouvoir acheter du pain la prochaine fois que je visiterai le Canada.) 
    • Finally seen Niagara Falls.
    • Attended Robert McKee’s three day Story seminar in LA with James Aylett. Watched Casablanca in slow motion. Ate too much.
    • Explored stupid ideas.
    • Booked a complete physical to finally understand if, almost a decade after quitting booze, my body has recovered from the abuse of my 20s. Spent weeks being jabbed and prodded and poked and x-rayed and ECG’d and jabbed some more. Was shocked to discover that all is in excellent working order. Inevitably, I will now be hit by a bus.
    • Got back on the Peloton.
    • Booked a dentist appointment. Was unshocked to discover my teeth were a disaster. Spent months undergoing maybe a dozen treatments to repair the damage. They are no longer a disaster.
    • On the advice of my dentist, booked an orthodontist appointment.  I am now a few months shy of completing Invisilign treatment which, inshallah, will leave me with a set of American teeth befitting my new green card.
    • Spent my weekends (previously spent arguing with idiots on Twitter) going on adventures to zoos and science museums and suchlike with Sarah’s children.
    • Got a new (rescue) kitten.
* Some habits are harder to break than others