Social Media Last,
Life and Long-Term Projects First
I have a problem with social media and, even worse, I have a problem with myself. I keep coming back, even though I know it is a waste of time. It shows me only what it wants me to see, it is pretended communication and I am generating content and data for a company that won’t even share its benefits with me.
Don’t get me wrong, I also see the “benefits” of social media, and that’s what makes it a problem. I use social media to keep or get in contact with people I find interesting. I would not be able to do that if my communication would be limited to zoom calls and personal visits. For one it would take me much more time which I rarely have, having two kids, and for another, it helps me to overcome my introverted nature. I met so many interesting people on social media, I might not have met otherwise.
Seeing Social Media as a useful space to meet people, get inspired, learn new things, be entertained, or even find jobs is what makes it so dangerous. We do not even need to be convinced by social media companies anymore, we convince each other. How many times have I heard the tale that you only need to create enough content and you will be famous and rich or in equally crazy words, grow influence and generate profit? Just the terminology should make us suspicious. We are made to believe we can act “freely” on a “free” “social” media “platform”. We are told that it is totally up to us if we are going to be successful or not. If we only follow their business strategy of capturing the attention of as many people as possible, we will automatically be successful, whatever this means.
If you have listened to Tristan Harris, you might already be familiar with the dynamics of social media. Still, even being relatively well informed, I am surprised how I keep falling into the trap over and over again. I spend too much time thinking about what to post on social media because I think it is the only way to connect with people. The pace in which posting is required from me makes it impossible to properly research, reflect and produce and even if the content would be proper, converting it into reels, dumbs it down naturally. In social media watching a 2 minutes tutorial is considered learning and reposting a quote is considered creating content. Do I want this to be my level of depth? Certainly not.
Writing this article is a reminder for me to rearrange my workflow and therefore my thinking. Although I would like to quit social media entirely, I never did because I never found an alternative. Until finding the alternative I will try this:
- Instead of thinking of social media posts as projects, think of them as snippets from bigger projects. You won’t make it far or deep if social media posts are your goal.
- It should not take longer than 10 minutes to convert the snippets into posts, which is already 600 times longer than people will look at it.
- The posts should tell a story that is relevant to the people, can be digested in a second, AND leads them to a place with more depth, preferably a place that you own, like your website.
- The success of a post (or its failure) has nothing to do with the value of your design. The audience on social media are not clients or customers, they are peers. Remember that Social Media is an echo chamber not a test platform for visual communication.
- Slow the fuck down. You do not need to be every day on social media and post something. It’s completely fine to be gone for a year. You might come back with something no one who is every day on social media can come back with.
- Practice patience by reading and writing. I promise that it will make you happier than the superficial entertainment on social media.
… and on a more personal note:
- Don’t scatter your notes all over, but use your mornings to write properly linked and tagged notes in Obsidian. If you do not know Obsidian, I strongly recommend checking it out. If you invest enough time in it, it can become your second brain, interlocutor, and media-independent content development. If you like I can elaborate on why and how I use Obsidian in the future.
- Have a long-term goal with many small goals leading you to your big goal, which means for me … write modular articles and convert them into courses or publications as soon as I can see that they form big enough clusters with other articles.
- Tutorials, images, and quotes are not proper goals, but they can be by-products of bigger projects (like courses, articles, or publications).
- Students can become teachers, and teachers can become students if they learn to listen and watch attentively. Changing perspectives is essential to more agility and it can only happen with better communication. We need to enable and work on productive feedback, which is not reduced to a like or an emoji.
- Follow your instincts and question your feedback. It is always good to receive feedback, but it is important to reflect on the reflection. The person’s feedback has to be put into context of the person, the place and time of the given feedback, as well as the form of the feedback. Your intuition might see something others do not see yet and you might not have found yet the time and place for your ideas. This last point sounds a bit vague because I do not want to waste your time with my long list of failures. Just know as much, you need to be a bit stubborn to get to a place that no one else got to. It takes time and dedication. You might be the only person believing in it, but if your intuition tells you that it’s worth pursuing it, go for it.
The text got a bit too long and it might be a good idea to sum it up in three catchy main points:
1. Life and long-term projects first, and social media last.
2. Less, but better sources and feedback.
3. Worthwhile content needs time to develop.
About echo chambers:
About the echo chamber effect on social media:
Where you can get Obsidian: