Protect your mind's independence
The only real social media strategy
I'm not social media savvy, not in the least, but I do think a lot about its impact on both individuals and society.
Social media can be great. It keeps ties to those you deem important, but not quite routine-check-in important. Childhood friends, grade school teachers, that distant acquaintance who lives in Barcelona. Facebook or Linkedin are perfect for this sort of arrangement.
And the ability to share rapid updates about your life. You can get it all out to those in the mob that matter to you—in under a minute.
But there is a cost to all social media platforms. The first is the one we've become accustomed to hearing about. These compnaies are using our information and data for their benefit.
That's the tradeoff. Our personal data for a well-executed weak-tie connection service. The vast majority of Americans take this deal without a second thought.
But here's the second thought we should all consider. Even if we're not worried about a company using our private data, we should be concerned about the attention and time we give to social media.
The prime gateway to social media use is our mobile phones. Mobile phone users, on average, touch their phones 2,617 times per day. Extreme users more than double that figure. We don't reach for our phones that many times just for the weather. We're reaching for social media.
The reality is we spend way too much time on social media. Way too much time. That means we're consuming and not producing. A good number of us end up looking like lab rats pressing levers for ever-more cheese pellets.
If I sound harsh about social media it's because I know how easy it is to get pulled in. That subconscious pull, like gravity, to "see" how things are going. To gawk at others, until you realize you've lost 30 minutes, having created no tangible value to yourself, all while you've deposited 421 discrete pieces of data into some Silicon Valley piggybank.
Here's where I'm going. I'm no tech-management guru (read Cal Newport for that). But I do think hard and scrutinize my own behavior and how it lines up with my long term goals and objectives.
Social media must always produce more benefits for you than the cost it imposes. If not, cut it out.
Nobody, absolutely nobody, can make that determination except you. You can't outsource this decision to others because nobody knows your mind except you.
And if you choose not to scrutinize your own mind, then you might as well hand over a lot more than a few million data points to some social media companies. The scariest part is that by letting oneself sleepwalk into Silicon Valley's trap, in the end, they'll know you better than you know yourself.
Nice essay. The feedback loop on social media is like drugs.