Reasons to use social media

I’ve been away from social media* for a month now, and I’m wondering whether to go back. I’m not convinced I should. I just don’t know whether I find it valuable enough to compensate for the downsides that it causes for me.

Here’s what I find valuable about social media:

  1. It helps me keep connected with friends.
    I actually met some of my closest friends (hi @dylanreeve, @parsley72) thanks to social media, and keep up with others using it. It’s not that I can’t catch up with people without using Twitter, but I do miss that ambient intimacy. I’m not convinced it’s as good as real intimacy though.
  2. It’s (currently) the best way to advertise your company and connect with your industry.
    With Codemania looming, I’m wondering if the lack of last-minute ticket sales is partially because I’m not spamming away on Facebook and Twitter. Possibly? Probably? Also we have some open roles at Vend that I’d normally tweet about to spread the word.

But, in contrast, here’s the crap that I’m not interested in continuing:

  1. A compulsion to share content that I think will be amusing and/or self aggrandising, so as to get a dopamine hit from people viewing and commenting on said content.
    Just this morning I cycled into work in the rain, and it was lovely. My brain is still in tweet-mode even after a month off, and I caught myself several times thinking about vainglorious tweets I could write about riding to work in a cyclone. Why am I compelled to do this? Ultimately it’s because I want people to see how tough, environmental, or altruistic I am for not using my car. Who actually gives a shit though?
  2. Filling in every spare moment of time.
    Literally seconds after logging out of my accounts a month ago, in a moment of time before my next work task, I watched as my mouse compulsively drifted to where my Twitter bookmark had been. Social media filled any spare moments I had: between tasks, in a queue, while waiting for Amelie to brush her teeth. I don’t like this. It’s more my fault than Twitter’s fault, but I can see it happening again if I log back in. Cold turkey seems to be what’s worked for me.
  3. Up to the second breaking news and current events.
    I didn’t hear about Trump bombing Syria or John Clarke dying until hours after they had happened. It didn’t matter.
  4. Complaints, Trolling & Pile-ons
    Something about my personality makes me unable to avoid jumping on the social media bandwagon when someone is wrong on the internet. I’ve done it several times, and each time I look back and wonder what the fuck I was thinking.

What now?

I’m going to think about this over the Easter break. The logical thing to do is to reconnect, and moderate my usage so that I can get those couple of benefits without the downsides. The conundrum is that I don’t trust my own ability to achieve that moderation.

If you’ve got any tips, I’d love to hear them.


*I have been cheating though. There’s a Slack group of local web/tech people that I’ve stayed connected to. I removed the group from my laptop Slack client, because I found I was compulsively heading there for those news updates and dopamine hits. It’s still on my phone though, and I’m still popping in there once or twice a day to chat about the news or boast about my bike rides. I’m a terrible person.


1 comment

  1. Hi Ben,
    Great points and completely agree. For me I’ve also found it to tend to take over a lot of my free time. So many projects waiting on the side lines, exercise, bike rides, but instead I’m Tweeting or Facebooking .

    I only became self aware of how I was looking for Twitter moments continuously after watching a particularly good episode of Black Mirror. And then I realised it was a bit of a habit after I deleted twitter off my phone and then starting looking at Twitter on my PC without realising it.

    I get the same feeling off Slack but I can’t avoid that since our company uses it for company Comms and messaging. I can only limit channels and times to check it, which helps.

    Thanks for laying out the pros and cons so clearly, I need to decide if pros outweigh cons as well.


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