Not using social media shouldn’t be some big social or political stance, it’s just rejecting one form of entertainment.
Social media isn’t evil (like cmon that’s extreme!), I just think there are better ways spend time. If you find yourself getting on Instagram every time the subway stops or each time you shut your car off, maybe keep reading.
After listening to Mark Hyman’s “Dr’s Farmacy” podcast episode with Cal Newport, I thought it was the right time to write about why life is much purer when you cut out social media.
Fact: Social Media was designed to be addictive.
Tech companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram hire interface designers to maximize the amount of time a user spends on their site.
Companies have a lot of pressure to keep users on their app for longer periods of time because that’s how they make money. “In order to get the next round of funding, in order to get your stock price up, the amount of time that people spend on your app has to go up,” said Aza Raskin (an interface designer). This is why social media is designed to be addictive, especially with the endless scroll.
We live in a world that glorifies Instagram likes and how many followers someone has. But Social media can decrease happiness and quality of life.
Fact: Social media was designed to create shallowed and hurried thinking.
“She’s always doing the coolest things”
“Wow, Katie got skinny. I bet she has something going on… Is she eating?”
“He’s traveling all the time, he must be so happy and have a ton of $$”
“I wish I could look like her”
” I think she definitely used Facetune on that.”
Studies show that happiness decreases when you’re constantly scrolling through Instagram. One reason for this is due to the assumptions we’re making about ourselves and others.
Reasons why scrolling through social media can quickly lower your quality of life:
- An increase in anxiety and depression because your attention is diverted from actual in-person connections
- A decrease in professional success because your attention is fragmented
- Example: FOMO (Fear of Missing out)
- Example: Feelings of inadequacy because you’re constantly comparing yourself to others. Most of the time what you’re seeing isn’t real anyway.
Some people say they use social media just to accelerate their career. In the words of Cal Newport, this “objection is nonsense”. If you think you’ll have an Instagram “career” or a career because of Instagram, I’ll ask you this:
- Is posting a picture rare or valuable?
- Is it a difficult skill?
- Is it difficult to replicate?
- Is it sustainable?
The market does not give value to behavior that is not rare or not valuable. In other words, the market doesn’t reward what a 16-year-old with a smartphone can do.
Posting an Instagram picture is not rare or valuable.
For some closing thoughts, social media is the furthest thing from a fundamental need. I haven’t used social media for 6+ months and I am much calmer, focused, and present. I’ve never once wanted it back.
I am able to accomplish significantly more in a 9-hour workday because I no longer have a fragmented workflow. I also never know what anyone else is doing unless I text/call/meet up with them (crazy idea!!). It’s a healthier lifestyle for me.
I work at a tech company, it’s not like I’m a luddite!
A great start to stop feeding the addiction is to delete the apps from your phone. If you still want to check Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, it’s available, but with less ease. You may quickly find yourself not missing it…
What are your thoughts on social media? Would you ever take a break?
- Dr. Hyman’s Podcast
- Study on social media decreasing teen happiness
- Dr. Cal Newport is an associate professor of computer science at Georgetown. He’s 36 years old and has written six books. Over the last several years he’s focused on the intersection of tech and society. Cal has never had a Facebook or any other form of social media. Here’s a link to his blog