The Social Dilemma documentary is doing the rounds at the moment. It’s about a bunch of tech executives from Silicon Valley, who highlight the consequences of our growing dependence on social media.
It’s eye opening for many, but nothing new to me. I’ve felt for a very long time that the benefits of using social media are vastly outweighed by the negatives. Over the last few years it’s made me drastically change how I use social media.
But, why do I even use it at all if it’s so bad?
Two reasons. 1. To learn and be inspired by smart people, and 2. to discover content (articles, podcasts, videos etc.). Every week I get some new ideas, and stumble across a handful of articles, videos or podcasts.
This makes me very clear on my use case for social media. I know the exact, and only value I want out of it. I don’t want to keep tabs on what friends and family are doing. I don’t want the news. I don’t want suggestions for things I might like. I don’t want someone else (or an algorithm) deciding what I should see, from who I follow. I don’t want to have discussions with people. I don’t want to see other people having discussions (or arguing).
Over time I’ve gravitated towards an effective way of getting exactly the value I want out of social media – with none of what I don’t want.
Here’s how I do it:
I don’t have any social media accounts. I stopped using facebook entirely about ten years ago. I deleted my Instagram account about a year ago. And I deleted my Twitter account about a month ago.
I have curated a list of people to follow on Instagram and Twitter – twelve people on each (that’s just a coincidence, not a target number!). I chose these people really carefully, based on:
- They all fit in with my use case. one way or another. I learn, and get ideas from them. I get inspired by them. They share content (articles, videos, podcasts) that I want to see.
- They post at a frequency that’s easy to keep up with their ideas
- The ratio of posts that are useful to me is very high.
My curated list of people to follow changes from time to time. Someone might retweet or repost something from someone who looks super interesting. When that happens, I check out their profile and recent posts. I then might decide to add them to the list of people I follow. Sometimes a person I follow will drift outside of the criteria I have (their posts are less useful to me, they post too frequently, or the ratio of posts that are useful to me gets too low). And then I remove them.
Every Sunday, I spend about 30 mins going through the last week’s posts and tweets from my curated list of people. I have two google chrome bookmark folders (one for Instagram and one for Twitter), where I save each person’s profile. It takes just one click to open up each profile in a separate tab (this is important because I bypass the feed). And that’s my 30 min social media fix for the week.
On average I tend to get at least a handful of articles to read. I send these to my kindle to read later using the Send to Kindle for Google Chrome extension. I also stumble across one or two videos / podcasts, which I save to listen to later. And in general, I get exposed to some good ideas via the tweets and posts themselves.
It’s worth noting that saving content to consume later is important. It helps me keep the social media session focused and short. I then consume the useful content when I am in that mode, and have more time later.
So, in summary. No social media accounts. No feed. A careful curated list of people to follow. 30 mins in total usage per week – in one session. Exposure to a bunch of good ideas, articles, videos and podcasts.
The only exception is Linkedin. I do have an account. I use it strictly to post ideas, links to my articles, and respond to anyone who comments. I resist using the feed for the reasons above (although I get caught sometimes and remind myself why I shouldn’t use it!)
I’ll leave you with a list of the people I keep up with on Instagram and Twitter. They’re all great in their own way:
Mr Money Moustache – rich guy, retired early and living the life he wants
Tim Urban (Wait but Why) – writes and says really interesting stuff
Seth Godin – entrepreneur, best selling author, and marketer
Brandon Stanton (Humans of New York) – writes short, interesting and heartfelt stories about people
Chris Kresser – author, paleo / healthy lifestyle advocate
Brad Stulberg – simple, great self improvement tips
James Clear – best selling author of Atomic Habits
AVC (Fred Wilson) – popular venture capitalist, and all round smart guy
Jason Fried – founder & CEO at Basecamp
Sam Altman – entrepreneur, investor, former president of Y Combinator, CEO of OpenAI
Paul Graham – programmer, writer (one my favourites), investor, and founder of Y Combinator
Chamath Palihapitiya – investor, Chairman of VirginGalactic, Owner @Warriors
Jesse Itzler – billionaire entrepreneur, awesome Dad, and living life to the max
Ben Bergeron – Crossfit coach and business owner
David Goggins – ex navy seal and possibly a superhuman
Mat Fraser – fittest man on earth
Amelia Boone – obstacle racing world champion and ultrarunner
Laird Hamilton – big wave surfer
Crossfit Training – training tips from Crossfit
Sevan Matossian – on the CrossFit Media team, and kick ass Dad
Adrian Bozman – Crossfit training guy
Will Smith – small time actor 😉
Jaden Smith – small time actor’s son!
Luka Hocevar – interesting fitness dude and business owner
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