Over the past few years I’ve become less and less involved in “social media”. My twitter, my google plus–now migrated to this blog, my mastodon, and now my linkedin are basically one way feeds from this blog to those platforms. I’ve uninstalled all of these apps on my devices and only login once a week via browser to check things out. I pay attention to the people and topics I really care about, and otherwise, move on with my life. Is this social media fatigue? Possibly.
The main reason for this change is my ability to focus. I find, as have plenty of others, that instant engagement is both exhilarating and exhausting. In the end, I find myself thinking about ways to compete with others on the platform. Did someone do an amazing project with their raspberry pi? Was an award given to someone? Are you keeping up with your peers? Are they even your peers? And frankly, I find myself less happy after reading all of the posted content than when I started. The only competition which really matters is how I’m doing against my own goals. Am I better now than then? Your better is likely different than mine. However, it’s all that matters.
I’ve been a big fan of Cal Newport’s philosophies and his articles and posts on his blog since his first book published in 2012, “So Good They Can’t Ignore You“. I also read “Thinking Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman at the time. Both books followed a line of thought I realized from looking at my own work data as Co-founder/CEO of the Tor Project. In 2010 and 2011, I started tracking my own work output and productivity. “Focus” is one such post on the topic.
I wanted to quantify the testing of various working paradigms. Paradigms such as “one task for 20 minutes at a time“, “do 2 things at once; one foreground and one background“, “list driven task lists“, and “one day dedicated to meetings“. It turns out, none of them really work for me. What works is to swap a task into my head and really tear into it until I’m either at an impasse or have completed it. Interruptions from social media, emails, phone calls, various messaging apps completely destroy my focus. I’ve learned when I’m at an impasse, write down the current state in my brain and stop working on the problem. I need to get up, go for a walk, change the scenery, do whatever is different from what I was just doing. In reality, my brain keeps working on the problem, just in the background.
The problem comes from too many things at once. “Just” reading and responding to social media feeds seems a harmless task. However, it starts to creep in and fill my brain with too many other subjects. This crowding pushes whatever I’m thinking about in the background into a dormant state. And then nothing gets done.
LinkedIn is the last social media platform I actively used. Over the past few months, reading it is an endless feed of humble bragging, or sometimes flat out bragging, about all of the amazing things people are doing every day. I’m happy people are doing amazing things and want to share with others as inspiration. For me, it’s demotivating and distracting. After a few conversations with friends and peers, it seems I’m not alone in these feelings.
Another fine book which could describe my current state of social media is “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck” by Mark Manson.
This is a very long way to say, if you message or connect to me on LinkedIn, I’ll get to you with possibly a week delay. Thanks for understanding.