A couple of years ago I read Cal Newport’s Digital Minimalism and started to give more thought to how I use social media. Specifically, I started to pay more attention to how social media posts made me feel. What I discovered is that with the exception of Twitter, I like consuming social media for fun and not for work.
The Slow Unfollowing
Once I realized how Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn posts made me feel, I started to unfollow or hide accounts that provoked feelings of anxiety and or annoyance. Some examples of these are accounts that just post “inspirational” quotes, “humble brags,” and thinly veiled multilevel marketing posts (I’m looking at you, person who hasn’t spoken to me since high school and suddenly wants to help me improve my life).
The only social media apps that I have installed on my phone today are Instagram and Strava. And it could be argued that Strava doesn’t qualify as social media.
I only use Facebook on my laptop twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. I’ll visit LinkedIn and Twitter during my work day on my desktop or laptop, but I don’t check it outside of work hours. Snapchat and TikTok are not platforms that I’ve ever been active on except to try them out and to vet potential nannies for my children.
Unfollowing all of the accounts that induced feelings of anxiety or annoyance has made it possible for me to enjoy using Instagram and Facebook to keep up with my friends. On Facebook I only have friends that I would actually hangout with in real life.
The Twitter Exception
I’ve been on Twitter for 15 years and don’t plan on leaving it any time soon. I still use it to keep up with trends in the educational technology space. That’s exactly how I started using it. What’s different today is that I don’t check it outside of work hours. I don’t do Twitter chats because those have always made me feel like it was a competition to get a word in.
How Do I Keep Up?
For my professional life, believe it or not, I still use an RSS reader to read a lot of blogs and websites. I also subscribe to some newsletters that get delivered to my inbox on a regular, weekly interval. I’m also in the fortunate/ unfortunate position of being on the mailing lists for a bunch of PR firms that send/spam me with announcements.
In my personal life, I seek out information about the things I care about. I’m a member of a couple of message board communities about cycling, fly fishing, and Boston sports teams.
Try It…or Don’t
I hate virtue signaling posts so I’ll just say that if you find yourself feeling anxious or annoyed by social media, start unfollowing accounts that make you feel that way even if it is that “friend” from high school who recently friended you. Or don’t. What do I know? I’m just a 40-something man who likes to ride bikes, go fishing, and post pictures of those things on Instagram.