Quit social media? Is that even possible? It was kind of shocking when we first read Cal Newport’s advice to do just that. Could we? Would we? And would it have the positive effect that Cal writes about in his book and talks about in his recent TED talk? Well, we can report back that indeed it does! We are both happily cured of our addiction to social media. We may dip in now and then but not on a regular basis anymore and it has made the world of difference. We have noticed that we are less distracted, we are experiencing improved quality time with our family and friends, and are much, much more productive.
The inspiration for this came from reading Cal Newport’s life-changing book, Deep Work. Cal explains that in order to master the art of deep work, we need to take back control of our time and attention. This includes social media. Cal doesn’t advocate that you completely quit social media but that you make a conscious decision on how to use these tools. He advises that you identify the key factors that determine success and happiness in your life and that you adopt a tool such as social media only if its positive impacts on these factors outweigh the negative. He highlights social media and other distractions as hugely affecting our ability to focus and that by removing key distractions we can not only hugely increase our productivity at work but also have greatly improved work-life balance.
In Cal’s TED talk, he highlights some very pertinent issues with social media. Firstly, social media is entertainment and social media companies are trying to make their products as addictive as possible (they have even worked with betting companies to understand how to increase the addictiveness of their platforms). So being addicted to social media is similar to being a telly addict or, more worryingly, a betting addict. Secondly, what would we be doing if we weren’t scrolling through our social media feed? In this 21st century we are hungry for content and data is king. But who is producing it? Too many of us are addicting to consuming to be creators. So creators are now rare and valuable! To get on in your career, be that rare and valuable person who is a creator and not a consumer. Thirdly, it has been well documented that social media has many negative impacts on society including loneliness, isolation, and depression.
This is quite profound. This is about becoming conscious of those subtle, hidden, and unexpected ways that we are being manipulated by others, specifically in this case social media companies. Zeynep Tufekci, another wonder woman, is studying how artificial intelligence is being used by companies to do just this. And her TED talk is a great watch!
There are many apps you can download which help you track your social media usage - you’d be surprised just how much screen time is taken up with social media! Try the steps below to give yourself a social media detox:
So remember your life goals and what you want to be doing with your life. And try a social media diet and see how it impacts your life.
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