I deleted my Facebook account many years ago. I felt well connected to friends and current events on the then young Twitter (fail whale era) and felt Facebook was redundant and a bit superfluous. Until recently, this seemed like a point decision.
Last week, I stopped using my Twitter account and deleted my Instagram account. Today I deleted all of my old blog posts. The tipping point was watching the Black Mirror episode Nosedive. The episode crystallized many feelings I've been having about social media:
- Social media was designed by very smart people to create an addiction loop. I simply could not stop checking Twitter when I had a free moment. It had gone from a tool to keep up with close friends and topics of interest to a full blown data addiction. I use the word data instead of information or intelligence by choice. Social media, in my opinion, has transitioned to a flood of data I find overwhelming yet compelled to try to digest, curated by someone or something I don't know or trust. Like many addictions, the cost to benefit ratio had simply become too high to ignore.
- Nosedive crystallized the idea that social media is a tool in society's quest to focus people on rank, acceptance, and vanity. I would check my Twitter follower count, but why?! I don't post on Twitter to climb into the social stratosphere, but that said I seemingly had to know who and how many were following me. Again, can you say addiction?
- I am pretty sure that my Twitter or Instagram follower count didn't validate interest in or the value of what I posted. While I had >1200 Twitter followers, it's well documented that many Twitter followers are bots. Bots don't care what I have to say. For my non-bot followers, my posts rarely warranted re-tweets, comments, or hearts. So why I am I writing them? For my own vanity. I want to believe many people find value in what I have to say, but the signal to noise ratio of my posts didn't warrant that attention. People don't care that I'm enjoying my train ride...
- I feel that my social media timelines had transitioned to depressing or trivial news and information. Bad ink sells. I rarely watch TV because of this same problem. Both are too depressing or banal. When I consume media, I want it to be amazing, matter, or challenge me. Twitter in the beginning did this for me, but now that torrent of drivel also known as my Timeline just makes me sad or bored.
- I realized the list of people I follow creates a comfortable but unchallenged view of the universe. Simply put, almost everyone I followed is fairly aligned with my political, social, and economic alignment. I think this follower bubble is a reality distortion field and is not healthy.
- I'm giving away a corpus of personal information to people without my best interest in mind. Where you are. What you like. What you've bought. What you do. Who your friends and family are. All out in the open for anyone with analytics experience to mine and sell or use for whatever end they desire. And my return for this disclosure? Vanity and bot followers...
My business partner convinced me after much chiding that I waste time on things that don't matter enough. Social media is a prime example, it is the sugar in my information diet.
Going forward, I will try to focus my communications on:
- People I care about whose opinion I value
- People and thoughts that make me smarter and/or expand my world view
- Longer for conversations
- Face to face time
- Writing that has a decent chance of creating value for others
- Topics I care about, as opposed to whatever an algorithm decides is relevant
I plan to spend my time windfall from these departures on more personal interactions with people who enlighten me and more thoughtful writing. More to come...