On Analog Social Media

Cal Newport suggests replacing social media with analog experiences that better provide the “benefits that drew [you] to social media in the first place”.

Even people who are fed up with the deprivations of the algorithmic attention economy are often reluctant to give up services like social media because doing so might lead them to lose some benefits. Loss aversion teaches them to avoid such losses at all costs.

Cutting a wealth of activities out and replacing them with higher-quality activities can be better than overly dividing your time:

Focusing on the most beneficial activities to the exclusion of less beneficial alternatives can leave you better off than trying to clutter your life with everything that might offer some value.

Newport has also written a sequel of sorts in which he acknowledges that the individual actions of social media (commenting, liking, finding a good link, etc) feel benign (or even beneficial), while our overall presence on these platforms (which we don’t feel as clearly) is the actual problem.

The key in replacing social media is to truly replace it, to consciously fill the resulting void with fulfilling activities (Newport suggests a good handful):

Triaging your apps, or cutting back phone time, will not by itself make you happier. You must also aggressively fill in the space this pruning creates with the type of massively satisfying, real world activities that these tools have been increasingly pushing out of your life.

12:09 pm on December 30, 2018 (via Mita Williams on Twitter)