Social Media, and Me

Approaching a new relationship with social media in 2018.

A few nights ago, I posted on (which cross posts to Twitter like magic) the following:

Taking a break from Twitter for 2018 and such. is much more sane.

I had not given it any more thought than that one post. There was no master plan, other than the specific choice of saying “break” instead of something more dramatic like “deleting”. After I posted that, I went ahead and removed the Twitter apps on my iPhone and iPad Pro 10.5 — but not on my 12.9”. The only reason I keep that copy on that iPad is because there are a few people who regularly DM me, and I’d like not to cut them out of my life.

Then, Matt Gemmell posted about a similar approach he is taking for 2018 — to regain happiness. This post resonated deeply with me. The end of 2017 was busier than I’ve ever been. I launched a new site, started posting here more, and took over as CEO. I could say this overwhelmed me, and people would understand, but it hasn’t overwhelmed me in the slightest.

What has overwhelmed me is social media. I came back to Twitter after the disaster which was because I missed seeing what my friends were up to, and instead got to witness the demise of American Democracy as I knew it. I signed back up for Instagram to support my wife and her photography, to see nieces and nephews grow up, and I hate every moment of it — seeing the life of my friends in frozen moments does nothing to deepen or change my connections with them.

And that’s what makes the end of 2017 stand out so much to me, because it was during this time where I read article after article about how negative social media as a whole is for people. That’s general people, meaning all of us. Social networks are not good, and have not been designed to be good for you. Sure, you could cherry pick arguments all day long, but there’s simply not been a compelling case made for these networks being good.

It shouldn’t be that way. Why should I participate in this?

Yes, news is full of bullshit now, but that’s the world I live in work in, and I refuse to be blind to that world. But I don’t need social networks to tell me what’s important — we never have.

So, no, I won’t delete all my accounts and move on, pretending I live in a magical world without Facebook/Instagram/Twitter and many more. I won’t stop reading news, because that shit matters. But I want no part in being beholden to watching those around me, whom I choose to follow, talking about things which don’t matter to me, and they haven’t taken the time to fully understand beyond the headline they shared.

I have no concrete plan for how to approach the shitshow of social media in 2018 and beyond, but I know it starts with not giving a fuck about it. I’ll post thoughts/links and things I think are worth sharing to, those will mostly get cross-posted to Twitter. I won’t check replies, or timelines on Twitter, but I will check DMs — until I get those few people left there to communicate with me via other means. I won’t check Instagram daily, but I have no firm strategy there, and I’ll still not sign up for Facebook.

I have no hard and fast rules, because there’s nothing which says I need them. I’d much rather read and learn, than I would mindlessly scroll through mostly-forced-outrage.

Om Malik recently wrote:

Twitter and its echo-chamber? It was making me angry. So I limited it to a few minutes a day, and just like that ambient stress went away. We live with so many irrelevant stimuli in our world and need to take steps to find ways to ignore them. Stop reading Medium for its dollar store wisdom. Also remember, everyone there is selling you something. Eventually, you will be monetized — it is the only one real law of the web.

About a month ago I decided I wanted to change the way I approach each day. Specifically to build in time for reading a book. I suck at finishing books, but I do enjoy them when I make time to read. I finished two books last month because of that, bringing my total in 2017 to 5 books read, up from 1 in 2016. Not changing worlds here, but I’m going to attempt to triple my number this year.

And it’s not just Social Media either, it’s TV too. I consume a lot of TV shows, but to what end? Most are procedural and I can nearly predict the entire thing 10 minutes or less into the show. So I am cutting those out, focusing on just a few shows. Just like Twitter, TV can be a never ending cycle of bullshit.

That’s the thing, I don’t want to make some arbitrary rule, trying to decide what is and isn’t worth it. Instead I’d rather just cut out all the bullshit the minute I see it — I guess that’s my rule for 2018.

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