“I am a millennial, computer scientist, book author, standing on a TED stage, and yet I’ve never had a social media account.” - Cal Newport
I was shocked when I saw Cal Newport’s talk “Quit Social Media.“
I wanted to achieve Cal’s level of success – and I thought social media was a necessary part of making that happen.
Yet, not only was social media not necessary for him now as an established author, but it was never necessary for him at all.
This opened my mind to new questions:
Maybe social media isn’t necessary – even for business owners...
Maybe it’s not a part of success...
Maybe it’s actually getting in the way…
With this in mind, I began taking a skeptical look at my social media. And in July of 2017 I learned that it's not worth it.
Here are all the reasons why:
IT WASN’T PROFITABLE
Social media is a time sink.
It siphons valuable time away from actually building products, solutions, and putting in the work necessary to build a company.
Although you do have access to a lot of potential customers for free, it’s not the only medium in which to market.
And the time I spent on social media was less profitable than other ways of getting In touch with my audience like email and SEO.
It was against my purpose
I started Willpowered to help people implement the practices of science to create a better future for themselves.
Social media is directly opposed to achieving that goal.
Social media is a place where talking about your goals, dreams, plans, etc. is an end in itself.
This will only lead to frustration. It feels great to talk about what you are going to achieve and get encouragement from friends and family via their likes and comments.
It feels much better, in fact, than the feelings you get from doing the hard work it takes to actually achieve your goals, dreams, and plans.
So, sadly, many of us choose to procrastinate the actions that will get us where we really want to go in favor of even more talk on social media.
IT WAS ADDICTIVE
“The tycoons of social media have to stop pretending that they’re friendly nerd gods building a better world and admit they’re just tobacco farmers in t-shirts, selling an addictive product to children. Because let’s face it, checking your likes is the new smoking." - Bill Maher
This was the most disheartening finding.
The stated purpose of the major social media companies is something along the lines of “to connect the world.“ This sounds great on paper, but the fuel they need to accomplish that purpose is your time.
To capture as much of your time as possible companies use a combination of social validation, positive reinforcement, and news-related outrage to get you coming back again and again.
“They want you to use it in particular ways and for long periods of time because that’s how they make their money...Every time I check my phone I’m playing a slot machine to see ‘what did I get?’...this is one way to hijack people's minds and form a habit."
This was the last straw. No matter what benefit I saw to myself or my company from social media, this hijacking process wasn't worth it.
So I left.
What I Lost
On a personal level, I lost many things being off social media.
I was no longer "in the know" about current events, life events of friends and distant family members, or the latest #Hashtag news.
On a professional level, I wasn’t able to share timely and relevant articles associated with those events.
The biggest thing I missed out on was timeliness. All of the important information eventually filtered down, but I always heard the news late and my content was less timely.
If you're someone who absolutely has to know things right away, or your company has a timely aspect to it, I don't believe that leaving social media will be beneficial.
You simply will not have the same ability to learn and communicate with your audience in as timely a manner.
What I Gained
One morning, several months into my leaving social media experiment, I looked over the sunrise and a feeling of peace came over me.
Before leaving social media, my Instagram strategy was to take a picture of the sunrise every morning.
This killed many birds with one stone. It showed the world that I was up early enough to watch the sunrise, it gave me an excuse to come up with something wise and profound to say, and it was always a beautiful image.
However, eventually, I stopped appreciating the sunrise for itself. I only saw it as a way to achieve my own ends.
After quitting Instagram, I could watch the sunrise and just appreciate it.
Rather than feeling anxiety, I started to feel peace. I wasn't worried about what others thought about me, I just sat there and enjoyed the moment.
When you're on social media, you see the world through a lens of what it will say about you. You curate the world to tell a story about yourself – whether true or false.
Not having to tell that story, and just simply being able to appreciate life for what it is, took a huge burden off of my mind.
I no longer needed to worry about what Instagram images would get me the most likes, what tweets would get me the most retweets, and what part of my story would make me look good to others.
I could just be grateful for the opportunity to live my life.
There are undeniable benefits to social media. I have no doubt that more people would know about Willpowered if I was still posting on social media everyday.
However, whatever benefit may come from that, the cost simply is not worth it to me.
Since leaving social media, I have been able to appreciate the world much more for what it is. Rather than worrying about how I can use it to tell a story about myself that I think will get me likes.
This has led to greater calm, clarity, and even greater friendships than I ever had when I was on it.