Social Media is Not Rare

From “Quit Social Media. Your Career May Depend on It,” by Cal Newport, Associate Professor of Computer Science at Georgetown University, over at the NYTimes:

“In a capitalist economy, the market rewards things that are rare and valuable. Social media use is decidedly not rare or valuable. Any 16-year-old with a smartphone can invent a hashtag or repost a viral article.”

I’ve met great people via social media in recent years, but so much of the amazing dialogue got washed away in the river, never to be seen again.

Compare that to an article on a website, an interview in a magazine, an EP… these things are increasingly rare. A catalog came in the mail yesterday that, yes, it wanted to sell me a new puffy jacket for $300. But the catalog has stuck around for a few days now. It hasn’t washed away in a sea of other catalogs because catalogs cost money to send, which makes them rare compared to a Tweet.

Social Network Changes

Somehow it’s the default now – you’re either on social media or you don’t exist. Forgotten. “Where have you been,” is the question, “I haven’t seen you online lately!”

It was only a few years ago when I ran a music site that published 20+ items per day. Now it’s the norm to publish 20+ updates per day about what we eat, what we read, and anything else that pops into our head.

For me, lately, though it’s a text. A phone call. Swapping emails into the night. All out of sight, at a much slower pace, but with a greater impact.

First Ten is Still Relevant almost Ten Years Later

I love this bit from Seth Godin, riffing on his 2009 post, ‘First, ten.’ There is no sense trying to win 1,000 fans if you can’t see the 10 right in front of you.

“Do your first 10 see your thing and thank you and move on,” asks Seth, “or do they go tell more people?”

If they don’t tell anyone, you need to work on that. Back the drawing board. No amount of tactics or tricks is gonna make it spread, you need to bake that into what you’re selling.

Our Well-Being is All We Got

This is amazing (via CNBC):

Our findings strongly suggest that limiting social media use to approximately 30 minutes per day may lead to significant improvement in well-being.

Read More:

How many of us hit 30 minutes by 9am?

I’ve been trying to put two things in my way of checking social media in the morning – do some pushups, then make my bed.

When I do those two things, then I allow myself time to scroll through my social media feeds. Funny thing is, though, after pounding out a few pushups and making my bed, I actually don’t want to open Twitter.


Post Twitter Living

It was about 2013-2016 when I found a wonderful community of people on Twitter. I had joined Twitter back in 2006, one of the first 2,500 users to sign up for the service.

But then things changed, as my pal Jasper nails:

“I used to tweet about great music but now that Twitter is for Nazis I just write about it here instead.” – Jasper

Years ago I stopped reading blog comments, and then Twitter turned into the blog comments. Sea-lioning. And yeah, Nazis.

Catching up with some blog posts, or swapping some emails, the occasional message – all replace social media wonderfully for me. And you know what? Apple News works wonderfully for me for keeping up without the fire hose of click bait headlines and unending chaos (read ‘Apple News’s Radical Approach: Humans Over Machines‘ over at the NYTimes).

Ten Hours

I think my new favorite app on iOS is Screen Time. It reminds me that I spend way too much time looking at social media, and I’ve been actively trying to look at it less. Lately I don’t use my phone when making and eating breakfast. Or an hour or so later when I make my french press coffee. Each of these moments might amount to 10 minutes per day, but over seven days that’s.. 70 minutes. Instead, I’ve been slowing replacing the every-so-often dopamine rush of anger / sorrow / terror with nice things:

  • Reading books on my Kindle
  • Stretching
  • Looking out the window at the vast beauty of the changing leaves

The minutes, the time is still the same. I can’t make the water boil any faster. But I can choose how I spend those moments. Am I feeding my body and mind with good things? Or am I giving away my time and energy to a company overrun with trolls and nazis under the guise of “staying current?”

Ten hours is too much.

More Latte Art

Before the internet, before social media, things that were important to us still got in front of us. New music still made its way to us because we went to the local record shop, listened to the local radio DJ, or went to a show and picked up fliers.

We didn’t need to “follow” magazines we liked because we subscribed to them, then they showed up in the mail once a month.

The same can be done today, but it’s going to be a bit painful.

See, everyone is sending out multiple updates per day. EVERYONE. When everyone is employing a certain type of marketing it becomes invisible because there’s so much of it. Now mix in news, turmoil, sports, and harassment! Weeee, how depressing!

Less is going to be more. We can no longer out-hustle everyone in the attention economy. Serious, what’s a coffee shop to do? Post more latte art? What’s a band supposed to do? Post 18 more times about their next show which is irrelevant to 98% of their audience?

If I have to throw a pebble at your bedroom window every time I do something new, reminding you that I exist, then I’m not doing my best to even give you a reason to visit my website.

Leaving Facebook is Scary

Of course it’s scary. Going first usually is.


Starting a music blog in 2001 was an okay move. Starting one in 2011? Maybe not.

Publishing lots of content to social media in 2007 was an okay move. But in 2018? Eh.

Everything comes down to relationships, which are built on positive feelings (I don’t know what sort of lasting relationships you want to maintain around negative feelings). Make someone happy, make them smile.

That feeling when the barista remembers your order? That’s a good feeling.

That feeling when BestBuy fucks up something for me again? That’s a bad feeling.

And if you can build good feelings, those vibes travel. So when you announce you’re leaving Facebook, your true fans will join your email list. When you ramp down your Tweeting, they’ll follow you to your podcast.

Not everyone will join, or follow, and that’s okay. Do what sits well in your own heart, and the fear won’t hold you back.


Mobile Surged

I wrote this back in January 2014.

Mobile is Surging
I love this. If even Google is struggling to make a dollar from mobile, where’s that going to leave the bloggers?

“Just three years ago, in 2009, (Global mobile traffic) was at a measly 1%. It edged up to 4% in 2010, and it hit 13% in November 2012, according to StatCounter Global Stats.”

It’s coming and you can’t stop it. As Napster did to the music biz, mobile will do the same to traditional web media. If you rely on four banner ad placements on your blog page x your daily traffic, everyday, the surge towards mobile will be devastating.

Yeah, I’d say mobile surged a bit.


Starting is the Easy Part

Lots of people start email newsletters.

Starting is the easy part.

Running an email newsletter, well, that’s serious work. But really it’s not.

Everyday we read, consume, have thoughts, conversations, take photos – there is never a reason to sit down at our computers and not have anything to write about.

It’s just that sitting at computer can be paralyzing.

I’m telling you – if we took half of our flippant Tweets and just threw them into a draft folder (text file, Bear, WordPress), we’d never run out of material.

The allure of tossing these ideas and pondering to Twitter is strong, I get it. You’ll get four likes, and you’ll recognize some of the faces, and maybe one or two people will reply. But four hours later that Tweet is gone, pretty much forever.

But if you put that on a blog, or in your newsletter, it has a home. It can have a life now.

The fun part? You can do both.

You can Tweet it, than flesh out your thought even more in a bigger piece. The people that don’t use Twitter (which is a lot of people), they can read it now, too. And three years from now, your blog post or newsletter has more of a chance of coming back to life that that Tweet.