I recently came across a terrifically intriguing TEDx talk regarding social media. The title? “Quit Social Media,” by a self-proclaimed “Millennial, computer scientist, book author” from Georgetown University. A short 13-minute video with over 1.5 million views (as of May 31, 2017), with that title, instantaneously piqued my curiosity. I watched. He also wrote an article for the NY Times on the same topic.
Transformative content on the internet is just that – potentially life-changing. Think of educational YouTube videos (like TEDx), or other videos that teach specialized skills to allow the busy professional to hone skills for a beloved hobby. Also easily obtainable online is a construct commonly known as “social media.” Everyone and everything (e.g. dogs, businesses, etc.) have a social media presence nowadays. Viral videos are commonplace. Flashy color schemes and “sophisticated” new features including new platforms like SnapChat and Periscope (and countless others) seem to populate an ever-crowded space.
Professional success is hard, but it’s not complicated. The foundation to achievement and fulfillment, almost without exception, requires that you hone a useful craft and then apply it to things that people care about.
– Dr. Cal Newport
I recall the first Facebook days, around the time I was in senior year in high school; the primitive network was “semi-exclusive,” allowing only those with .edu email addresses to log in. Today, Facebook remains a routinely visited website on my home laptop after a busy day at work. I truly enjoy “catching up” with family and friends, mainly via photo sharing.
However, I noticed an unsettling trend amongst my social media practices – something I’ll call “social media bouncing.” I define this as leaping across a multitude of networks, from Facebook to Instagram to SnapChat to Twitter to LinkedIn while aimlessly browsing news feeds. I know I’m not alone. A 2014 Pew Research Center poll showed that approximately 50% of people use at least two or more social media services (I suspect more people participate in multiple social media services in 2017).
In a capitalist economy, the market rewards things that are rare and valuable. Social media use is decidedly not rare or valuable.
I love this quote from Dr. Newport’s article and TEDx talk. I find that some people look to social media as a way to attract attention, thereby bolstering their own personal brand. The endpoint? Perhaps the thrill of attention; however, I posit that the same people feel it will further their career or in some way generate money/fame.
Considering my own social media involvement, I decided to free up more time to learn new skills, become a better physician, and enjoy more leisure time. To do this, I deleted some of my accounts. The only accounts that remain are Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Even more fascinating was the multi-step process required to delete a social media account. In May 2017, I began deleting my social media accounts. I’m technologically adept, yet I could not find the page to delete my account. I enlisted the help of Google to point me to the page/form needed to actually delete (not “suspend” or “deactivate”) my account. The services are so concerned with keeping their valued customers (“friends”) that they ensure you give them more data entry points before you leave. I reminded myself that every single data entry point on social media is a source of revenue for these companies. This only hastened my desire to leave Instagram and SnapChat.
I want to be the very best physician possible. However, I desire leisure time just as much as the next human. Filling this leisure time is made exceedingly more useful by watching top-rated movies, learning new skills via online videos, reading textbooks, traveling, and spending time with friends/family. I needed to be reminded of how social media is not as useful as I once thought it was.