I've been increasingly frustrated with social media and the amazing time-sink that it now represents. I've been a relatively early adopter of most platforms, mainly as in my job it's easy to become a marketing dinosaur in the blink of a post.
However, it's been an ongoing journey of discovery, immersion and filtering. I stopped using location platforms (foursquare, swarm, Gowalla) a few years back after I was investing hours of my time in a platform that told me that Jeff in Dundee was the King of his local gas station (whoopee!). I've restricted my Facebook account to friends & family only, plus I've kept LinkedIn to business contacts that I know or have met. I also switched off notifications (on phone and by email) from all platforms. I really don't know why anyone has these enabled as you'll be in the app virtually every hour anyway.
Last year I uninstalled Facebook, LinkedIn and twitter from my mobile devices to save me the endless cycle of checking twitter, then LinkedIn, then Facebook and repeating ad nauseum hundreds of times a day due to FOMO.
The reality is, of course, I'm not missing out. The problem is that feeding and interacting with the networks has become a thing in its own right. I love seeing posts from friends on what they're up to, but I can scroll through pages of suggested posts and ads, and sometimes never see a single piece of orignal content from a human being. And, no, seeing that someone I used to work with 15 years ago likes their local pet shop in Albuquerque does not constitute interesting content. And don't get me started on the non-time-linear algorithm that tries to throw up what's interesting. Try following a sports match on Facebook. It's painful.
That's not to say I'm opting out of social media. The reason I originally loved social media was content-based, not ad click-based. And I'm sure we'll see future developments that will improve the utility of the various platforms back towards human connection. These have to come, mainly as the next generation has already opted out of ad-driven platforms preferring more messenger-like forms of direct connection (Snapchat, WhatsApp, Instagram Stories etc.).
For me, it's about moderation. And focussing on creating, sharing and consuming content. So here's what I'm doing:
1. Less social media
- Restrict use of social media to desktop only. Except Instagram* :)
- Facebook : Opt out of brands devoid of content in my feed (right hand column ads work just fine for that for me thanks), keep just real people.. You'll be amazed how that transforms your feed. You'll also notice what little content people post. No more infinity scrolling in hope of some nugget or other!
2. More content.
- Start the day with the (London) Times and New York Times. I subscribe to the digital editions of both, but hardly read the publications. (BTW - their Facebook feeds suck, as even as a subscriber you have to sign in for every single article).
- Try out new sources of content. I use Stack and it is amazing - you get a different independent magazine each month, showcasing the best in content and design.
- Read books! I have a varied backlog of books (some pictured above) - from music bios to business books to thrillers. When I was a teenager I used to get up early to read the latest sci-fi release before I went to school. In 2017 I think I read three books in total!
- Write more business posts on this blog (I wrote exactly zero in 2017).
- *Invest more time in photography. I still enjoy Instagram and love taking photos and seeing others'. I need to dust off the SLR and get back into Adobe Lightroom too.
Hopefully this'll rebalance my social media diet and make for a happier & healthier 2018. What are your plans?