So-long social media

For a long while, I’ve been a big user of social media.

In terms of the mainstream apps, I began with Facebook and then moved onto Twitter, Linked In (for work) and Instagram. In fact before any of those, I was active on a number of message boards relating to specific topics. So I guess that social media has sucked a fair proportion of my life over the last fifteen or so years.

However, when I face the truth, it is doing almost nothing of use for me. This is however, an inconvenient truth because, like many, I guess I am pretty hooked on it! Therein, my friends, lies the problem. Social media has the potential to become so addictive, that it has substantially negative impact on other aspects of life.

Furthermore, I’m just not getting from any of it what I once did.

Facebook has changed a lot in recent years and the ridiculous misinformation and bile around Brexit left me utterly cold. Since then, I’ve barely use it at all. Instagram is merely a curated stream of the highlights of people’s lives. Not to mention the strangeness of some very, very random likes and follow requests whenever you post anything. I’m on Linked In, ostensibly for the benefit of work, but really it just seems to be becoming Facebook in a shirt and tie. Does anyone ever genuinely win work by using Linked In?

Out of all of the mainstream social media platforms, I’ve stuck with Twitter for the longest, but it too seems to be changing. There’s a lot less substance and a lot more sharing of memes and spurious information, crazy politics and associated mud-slinging. I’m rarely uplifted, but often dismayed at the information that fills my feed.

I first began to think seriously about leaving social media alone when I read this article by Dan James at 35Hunter. Then just recently I started to listen to “Deep Work” by Cal Newport which espouses the practice of taking uninterrupted time to work deeply on your best work. The final nail in the coffin came in the shape of this video of Cal Newport in which he makes a compelling case for not using social media at all.

This all resonates with me, because I do want to write more and take more (and better) photographs. At a best assessment though, but my work rate is thin and patchy. I need to free up some time in my life and the constant twitch to check my Twitter feed has become a serious distraction. It’s adding very little to my life at the moment and yet is sucking quite a bit of valuable time.

There are a handful of people on Twitter whose comments I’ll miss, but I may well reach out to contact some of them by WhatsApp or text. The only other main use I had for it was sharing my blog posts, but I’m not sure that it ever brings much traffic. I’m pretty sure that if a message is worth being out in the world, it’ll find a way eventually.

So, I’m giving all social media a miss for a prolonged spell. Maybe indefinitely.

It’s already been a couple of days and my blogging work rate has gone up. Honestly, I don’t really miss social media at all at the moment.

This might be a long term experiment, or a life changing shift in focus. Either way, I’ll see how it goes and will blog about the journey.


9 thoughts on “So-long social media

  1. Wise move. Social Media can gobble time and energy, can’t it? Be interesting to hear how you manage without it.

    Thanks for following my blog, by the way.

  2. I agree and I’m looking forward to seeing how much time I now have for doing things that matter. I really like your blog too – thanks also for following me!

  3. Hi Michelle. The main “productive” use I had for Twitter was posting links to my blog articles and more recently, podcasts. I have wondered a bit how I’ll manage without doing that, but in the last two days I have a new follower and more comments than in a long time! Perhaps there’s something in that?

  4. We’ve reached a point where it’s getting hard to see some of the original visions and purposes of social media. I’m sure most of it started with the best intentions and as a way to communicate more easily with people who enjoy the same things we do.

    I remember using Twitter some years ago (maybe 2010, maybe earlier?) and loved the succinct (then text only) format, and how groups could form around hashtags. It seemed so simple, yet so innovative. It was genuinely an exciting and innovative platform. I used it extensively to share and discover haiku and other poetry, and even once had a “tweetup” with a guy I met on Twitter to talk in person. This just wasn’t possible a few years previously.

    The Twitter of today is virtually unrecognisable, yet another overloaded messy stream of text, images, photos, videos and of course advertising (or “promoted tweets”). I haven’t used it consistently since around 2014 and after dipping back in briefly a few months ago, very quickly decided to close down my account for good. It’s nothing like it was when it began.

    I think blogs are such a simple platform that hasn’t changed really in about 15 years – other than being easier to use and make look good with little to no coding experience. They will surely have a place in our lives for a long time – just a straightforward way to have a platform for sharing our thoughts and pictures, and for following others you find interesting.

    Richard have you looked in your WordPress stats to see how much attention you were getting from Twitter, ie in the “Referrers” section?

    Thanks for mentioning my post by the way!

  5. Hi Dan,

    It was only when you posted your article that I looked back to see what Twitter used to be like. You’re right, it’s changed completely. I find both it and Linked in to be shouting chambers to be honest with a lot of information going in, but not much substance coming out.

    I like blogs a lot and have had a few others over the years. As you suggest building a community of bloggers and having interesting dialogue with them is far more productive and pleasant than shouting on social media.

    No worries about the blog link BTW – you post a lot of good stuff and I’ve enjoyed 35Hunter tremendously over the last year.


  6. Richard, I had a poke about with the Wayback Machine, it was longer ago than I remembered when I began on Twitter – a decade ago!

    Back then too it was a platform that worked on any device. I didn’t matter if you were on a phone with a small screen, plus if I remember rightly, you could get a private number to then send SMS messages to from your phone, and they would appear as tweets in your Twitter stream.

    With stuff like Twitter and especially Instagram, I feel phones are just too small, even now, to appreciate images. With the text of Twitter, it was perfect.

    So pleased to hear how much you’ve enjoyed 35hunter! Thanks for your ongoing support and thoughtful comments.

  7. I have a Nokia 301 for those weekends when I just need to unplug. It’s compact, simple and stays charged for ages. Twitter kind of works on it (for text) but is just so clunky for anything else that it’s not worth bothering with. Likewise FB. So I am permanently signed out of both on it. Calls, texts, music and alarm clocks. That’s all it does.

    Once people realise how freeing a less digital life is, it’ll catch on I think. At least we gave up on social media before it became cool!

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