January 4, 2018
And that’s what makes the end of 2017 stand out so much to me, because it was during this time where I read article after article about how negative social media as a whole is for people. That’s general people, meaning all of us. Social networks are not good, and have not been designed to be good for you. Sure, you could cherry pick arguments all day long, but there’s simply not been a compelling case made for these networks being good.
-Benjamin Brooks, “Social Media, and Me”
Mr. Brooks’s post touched on a few things that I have been thinking through over the past few months. In mid-December, I wrote “I guess I’m back”, which came from a feeling of failure at having come back to Facebook, but in the end was a resolution to put the antisocial norms of social media1 out of my mind and find the root of how social media could be a powerful vehicle for creation. In particular, I stated:
I hope to cut the general noise and get to the heart of what social media can produce because, in the end, social media should be a creation engine.
But it is more than that, I basically deleted my Facebook account and was drawn back in by people; not posts, not news but personal connections to people. The reason Ben points to for keeping Tweetbot installed on one device is to allow for communication with those that use that medium for personal connections. Neither Ben nor I are here to judge those who use given services, no matter our feelings on the matter. Instead, we are both looking for ways to reduce noise to focus on things that should matter more.
Something I have been struggling with recently is the math behind media consumption, a point that Ben makes in his post as well. There is no way to create time for all types of media in a single day, let alone all the options within a single type of media. Humans need to be deliberate with how they spend their time given the finite amount of it we have. I didn’t mean that to come across as existential, but take it as you will.
I calculate that I have somewhere around three hours a day that I can give to any form of media. That number fluctuates depending on the day of the week or the items in my calendar. Three hours to decide if I want to zone out on a scrolling list of nothing important or focused on well-researched information or in conversation with a friend or family member. The key in that statement though is just how endless the possibilities are in our day-to-day lives. Access and a general hoarder mentality has basically ruined us.
Feel free to disagree if you would like, but I will quote Mr. Brooks again from above: “Sure, you could cherry pick arguments all day long, but there’s simply not been a compelling case made for these networks being good.”
My argument of late has been that social media is actually more about being antisocial than anything else. A Facebook post that says, “Thank you” or announcing a child’s birth is likened to sending a Thank You card or birth announcement in the mail, but in the end we have removed what makes those former social norms personal, the effort in creating and maintaining personal connections. Because when you have hundreds or thousands of “friends”, do you really have any at all?↩