A more nuanced approach to evaluating social media from Cal Newport.

  • Only use a given social media service if it provides valuable benefits that would be hard to replace. Use these services only for these purposes.
    • Delete all social media apps from your phone. (Few serious uses for social media require that you can access it wherever you are throughout the day.) Instead, access social media through a web browser on your laptop or desktop, once or twice a week.
    • When logged onto a social media service, don’t click “like” or follow links unrelated to your specific, high-value purposes — these activities mainly serve the social media conglomerate’s attempts to package you into data slivers that they can sell to the highest bidder.

I can tell you that I have no social media on my phone. I have Instagram on my iPad, but I question having it there because I find myself flipping randomly through things.

Facebook, only in Safari from my computer. There is one group that I am part of that interacts through Facebook. I have to remember to go check in with that group though since Safari isn’t my main browser.

Twitter, is Tweetbot on my Mac and that’s it.

I do have Buffer installed on my iPad and iPhone so I have a push only method to update Facebook and Twitter.

The problem I see with Newport’s revised suggesstions1 is that they require so much willpower to stick with the single task you wanted to accomplish on your Social Media poison of choice. All of these social media platforms have scores of engineers and psychologists whose job is to ensure that they get you to stay on their platform.

How can you win a game with your willpower when all the people on the other side are better trained and paid to make it not work in your favour?

Newport’s second approach is to have your own site. I love that idea but like he says you are greeted with a harsher reality.

When you run your own site, reality is harsher. If people don’t truly care about what you have to say, or don’t truly care about you, they’re not going to stick around. You have to earn their attention. Which can be really, really hard.

I also agree with his thought that this isn’t a bad thing. This forces you to have thoughts that are of value so that people show up. Not just the random drivel that is rampant in so many updates in the walled gardens.

So, do you have a site where you share thoughts that are worthwhile? If you’re in business you should.

  1. Because in Deep Work he said do a cost/benefit analysis and only use it if the analysis comes out positive. Over the years he’s found that to not work for so many because of a single group like my reading group that is on Facebook so you must use the social media to get those updates.