Social Media

On November 23rd, 2017 I had just finished reading “Deep Work” by Cal Newport and in it he talks about social media’s popularity being due to its ability to “short-circuit [the] connection between the hard work of producing real value and the positive reward of having people pay attention to you.”

When I was on Twitter constantly it became a filler. During the times that I didn’t have anything in particular to do I could flip over to Twitter and go through an endless timeline of posts, some of them expandinging into threads and conversations that went on seemily forever. There was no shortage of “look at me” so it was easy to lose quite a bit of time.

People post carefully curated moments in their lives so that they put off the image that they want. If you want to appear successful, you post little wins that you’ve had. If you want to garner sympathy, you post the little fails.

One of the things that keeps ringing in my ears is this bit about repeated hits of dopamine all day long. You get to the point where if you’re not getting it then you start needing it to feel normal. You don’t feel good anymore. You just feel okay. So rather than riding around 80-100% of maximum happy you bounce between 20 and 120%. That can’t be healthy.

And what it’s doing to kids, too. You would throw a parent in jail if they were letting their kid have a puff of a cigarette on the half hour to keep their mood stable. It’s the same thing. You post something, some people like it, or they don’t, and then you get that feedback. That social acceptance. You didn’t do anything to earn it. You’re just fulfilling that social contract: if you like my stuff I’ll like your stuff. It doesn’t have to be good. It doesn’t even have to be something I personally “like” but I’ll click the button.

Like a dog learning that if they hit a button they get a treat. Or a monkey. Or some other trained animal.

Long story short (too late, I know) I quit social media on December 24th after taking a 30-day hiatus to see how things felt differently. I miss it sometimes but I feel like the tradeoff of having a more even mood has been worth the sacrifice.