Elliot Jay Stocks is a designer, speaker, and author. He is the Creative Director of Adobe Typekit, the founder of typography magazine 8 Faces, one half of Viewport Industries, and an electronic musician.

This is not 2013 in review

Posted on 03 January 2014 8 comments

Tradition dictates that it’s time for my annual round-up of the year that was, with some goals for the year that will be. This time around, though, I feel less inclined to stick with this self-imposed tradition. Perhaps it’s the countless brag-tastic posts that friends have been posting on Facebook, or the predictable new year messages on Twitter, but I find myself feeling less and less enthusiastic about sharing my life online. And that, as it happens, is exactly why 2013 was one of the best years of my life so far: I made a conscious effort to focus less on the web and spend more time in the real world with the people I care about.

This was in part motivated by our wedding in 2012, which made my wife and I realise just who it was that mattered to us. On the first day of 2013, we made a number of plans for things to do throughout the year, and a strong theme running through those plans was that we would see more of our favourite people. We succeeded and had a great year, but as promised I’m not going to go into a list of achievements, because I’m sick of reading that self-indulgent nonsense. As 2013 progressed, I found myself caring less and less about social media, less and less about online debates in the web community, and less and less about the representation of myself online. Partly by accident and partly by design, I became quieter.

This new-found ‘quietness’ and desire to move life back offline seems to be a consistent theme with a number of other friends. I wasn’t even going to write this post until I was motivated by Colly’s excellent — and completely brag-free — end-of-year round-up, in which he described his decision, ‘to be quieter and just get on with my work and personal life.’ The pressures of internet life have been highlighted in depth by my close friend Christopher Murphy of late, too. A few weeks ago, at Insites: The Xmas Special, the pre-Christmas meet-up run by me and Keir, there was an almost unanimous acceptance that we spread ourselves too thin; we focus too much on the web and our online personas; we let our personal lives suffer as a result.

Well, in 2013 — particularly the end of it — I worked hard on switching this behaviour, and will continue to do so throughout 2014. I feel happier for caring less. Or, specifically, caring about more important things.

8 comments

  1. Jeremy Keith

    Jeremy Keith

    03 January 2014 @ 06:33PM #

    Good for you, Elliot.

    But if somebody else, not you, chooses to publish on the web, I don’t think it’s very nice for you to describe their activity as “self-indulgent nonsense.” It’s a wee bit judgemental, no?

    It’s a big ol’ world. There’s plenty of room in it for multiple behaviours. Live and let live, eh?

    Happy new year!

  2. David Thorpe

    David Thorpe

    03 January 2014 @ 08:23PM #

    The majority of blog posts are self indulgent and most people frankly do not really give a shit Jeremy. I am amazed that these people that fire up Twitter debates and constantly blog about their life have time to get ANY work done at all.

    I don’t get time to take a shit some days, let alone write a blog post every week about how I’m going to change the world. I’m all for this attitude you have Elliot. I never comment on blog posts but yours has really rung home to me because I saw so many 2013 roundups I just became a Pessimistic Pete about it all. I don’t care.

  3. Craig McPheat

    Craig McPheat

    04 January 2014 @ 02:19PM #

    Nice one, Elliot. All the best :)

  4. Elliot Jay Stocks

    Elliot Jay Stocks

    06 January 2014 @ 10:04AM #

    @ Jeremy — I was sad to see your comment, because I think my message has been misinterpreted. Perhaps I didn’t explain myself very well. I’m certainly not saying that someone’s decision to publish on the web is self-indulgent nonsense — far from it. I’m talking very specifically about some acquaintances of mine who have bragged about their achievements. I don’t see anything wrong with sharing an end-of-year round-up; my point is simply that they’re far better if they’re not presented as a brag. The post written by Colly that I cited, for example, does an excellent job of summing up his year whilst remaining humble. It’s also worth noting that my beef is purely with the bragging posts I’ve seen on Facebook and Twitter, not with blogging or any sort of generalised decision to share on the web. Hope that clears things up and a happy new year to you, too!

  5. Kris

    Kris

    06 January 2014 @ 10:34AM #

    Just a bit confused about the reason why you share that you are about to share less and less. Is it because of the unrealistic expectations a lot of people have these days? Or something else? I am also asking because I myself never did a lot of blogging, because I felt every decent web design related article/post already had been written by the time I finally had some time to even think about a post. That and the fact that I never had the feeling I was any good at the craft.

  6. Keith Devon

    Keith Devon

    06 January 2014 @ 01:22PM #

    Hi Elliot,

    Thanks for writing this. It really struck a chord with me.

    I’ve had similar feelings towards social media and online content recently. More and more I was feeling depressed after flicking through my Twitter feed. My online contribution dwindled and I began to feel like a bit of an industry outsider.

    I spent a month in Argentina last March, where I had little access to the internet. I found the lack of noise refreshing, and it took a while after returning home before I started using Twitter again (as a way to stay in touch after ConfShop!).

    I haven’t found the right balance yet, but it’s great to know that I’m not the only one who feels like this. Thanks for sharing.

  7. @cwebba1

    @cwebba1

    06 January 2014 @ 03:16PM #

    When I am asked what designers I admire I always say Elliot Jay Stocks. I admire your typography and am curious to learn more. Note that you have made a dent in the universe. It is wonderful that you experience life with purpose. When you are ready we are interested to learn about that part of the story.

  8. Stuart Wiener

    Stuart Wiener

    09 January 2014 @ 07:26AM #

    Thanks Elliot, great post.

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