Am I consuming social media or is it consuming me slowly? This fuzzy line has gained increased attention due to recent documentaries like The social dilemma, which popularized deeply troubling questions about the impact of social media on our mental health, our politics and even our free will.
Still, many of us have our reasons for staying in the game. I’m sure there are some prolific entrepreneurs and writers who have no problem managing their use of social media, but that’s not my thing. experience. I find these platforms constantly distracting from my most important work. It is a huge cost that I can no longer ignore.
I have tried several times to overcome addiction, by imposing heavy restrictions on my daily use. Good intentions have only gotten me this far. Somehow, I’ve always been brought back into the seriousness of social media, using it however they ask (i.e. obsessively).
In other words, until a few weeks ago. I finally decided that social media was stealing too much of my time and attention to warrant continued investment. For 2021, I have chosen a clearer approach to social media management: network cut.
The opportunity cost of social media
On a sunny day in the late 2000s, Mom took my picture and uploaded it to her computer. There I was, a freshman, smiling and backlit in front of his blinds. Neither candid nor elegant – just a grainy placeholder photo to help complete my Myspace profile. Months later, I adopted Facebook as well, and a few years later had signed up to Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
Unlike most of the hobbies and habits I picked up in high school, this one stuck. The longer I have been on social media, the more I invest each week on each platform. I’ve recorded photos of backpacking trips, learned about important causes, shared my own articles and news, and networked tens of thousands of dollars for my writing business – all thanks to social media.
But the benefits did not come without their costs.
The most obvious cost was my time. According to Statista, the average daily social media usage was 144 minutes in 2019. Assuming I’m average enough – a safe guess – that means I spent almost 900 hours browsing social media websites in a year civil. Since high school, it’s been several month of my life accumulating scrolling, liking, posting, asking friends and sharing memes.
But on its own, elapsed time does not directly equate to lack of value. What I’ve earned all this time on social media – and whether I could have gotten more value for my time elsewhere – is harder to quantify.
I think the most apt analogy I’ve heard is that social media is like cognitive junk food. These sites emphasize titles and shots rather than depth and nuance.
Like fast food, social media plays on my weaknesses by keeping an appearance pretty close to the substance – so much so that sometimes I can ignore the difference.
The problem is, I just don’t want to fair Replace yourself to tackle big ideas, understand news, and connect with friends. Just give me the real thing. Give me depth, substance and a real connection.
And what about creators who only use social media to disseminate and post ideas? Instant publishing offers many obvious benefits, but it also offers a dangerous shortcut for anyone who wants to produce work that lasts.
Author and economist Tim harford Put the opportunity cost of her use of social media in exact numbers: “My Twitter habit is no longer a problem. I have 145,000 subscribers, gently persuaded over 10 years, and 40,000 tweets to follow me – that’s about 10 books, or 20 years of weekly columns. That alone was a reminder of how much effort Twitter could be. ”
How i got here
I’ve never wasted more than a month on social media since my first year of high school. And even those few breaks wouldn’t have happened without first learning about the work of Georgetown author and computer professor Cal Newport.
Newport writes at the intersection of professional development and technology. From late 2018 to 2019, I read three of his books in quick succession, with one idea surpassing the others: deep work. Here is a definition of his website:
The in-depth work hypothesis: The ability to focus without distraction on a demanding task (what I call “deep work”) is becoming increasingly rare as it grows in value in the knowledge sector. As a result, individuals and organizations who go out of their way to cultivate this skill will thrive.
Newport’s deep-work assumption made me reconsider how I organize my day, what I enjoy about work and play, and my relationship to social media.
As a copywriter, I earn my living by working in depth. Continuous, focused attention is what pays the bills and keeps my business moving. The more time I spend in the craft and writing business, the better I get and the more work I produce. When something gets in the way of writing, it directly interferes with my earnings and career potential.
And nothing prevents me from writing faster than Twitter, Facebook or even LinkedIn. What started as an innocent hobby in high school now robs me of so much time and attention. I knowingly bleed productivity every week.
* wakes up and looks at the phone *
ah let’s see what cool horrors await me on the cool horror device
– Miss O’Kistic (@missokistic) November 11, 2016
Maintaining a social media presence – especially for writers and entrepreneurs – often seems non-negotiable. The choice is not whether you use social networks, but How? ‘Or’ What.
On the first page of InvestedWrites Charles Schwab, “The world of business, like the rest of life, is full of wonderful temptations, and making a choice about where to spend your energy is often as much about rejecting things as choosing. Something. A unique sense of purpose gives you focus and clarity. ”
Cutting social media out of my life for the next year is my attempt to reach a new level of focus – perhaps one that becomes an advantage. What will a return to concentration mean for me this year? Maybe I’ll publish more articles in more reputable magazines than the year before – or win a book deal. Maybe I’ll finish work early each day and have more time to read, exercise, or call a friend.
Think about when the last time you texted someone, “How are you?” Without the crutch feeling as I know friends from social media updates, I’m going to have to be more proactive. I’ll have to ask. So far, I have many aspirations and am optimistic about what a year without social media could mean personally and professionally.
Of course, it is possible that things will go against my plan. Maybe a year without social media will change the way I look at it. Maybe the benefits will become clearer to me and I will enthusiastically reconnect to each platform in early 2022.
If I’m being honest, I doubt that is the case. I think the internet is a better place to learn, write, and grow a business when I’m not competing for trivial accomplishments like a new badge on a single retweet or whatever.
I have a feeling that I will never choose to come back to social media. Or maybe it’s a prayer. Either way, I got out.
Published March 8, 2021 – 09:27 UTC