A public service announcement for those that are wondering why I seemingly stopped tweeting and abruptly unfollowed everyone.
In case you’re wondering why I haven’t tweeted at all for the duration of this awful pandemic, or if you were confused why I unfollowed you and hundreds of others people I was following, my Twitter account was recently hacked.
I haven’t been able to access @ramoneLIVE since March. I tried numerous times to contact Twitter support for help, but either they don’t exist as an entity, or they’re still busy trying to figure out how to unhack themselves from a 17-year old Floridian.
This isn’t meant to be a call for pity; rather an opportunity to reflect and share a few realizations that have helped me better attune myself. And it’s not like I’ve used Twitter much lately anyway. After happily abandoning Facebook and Instagram, and limiting myself to Twitter and LinkedIn (for business and social proof purposes), I’ve come to enjoy the lesser weight that social detoxing typically provides.
Don’t get me wrong though: I have nothing against those that use it. Social media is a fantastic way to meet new people, see what’s happening in the world right this moment, spread a message that’s important to you, sell your product or service, connect often with family, build your personal brand, gain “clout” in your particular niche or industry. Whatever it is you’re on there for: do you, fella.
For me, I’ve come to a few discoveries along my unsocial journey.
Any company that’s valued over $1 million needs an active customer support channel. If your top executives are making bank, yet claim that we’re “just a startup and can’t take phone calls (yet!)”, that’s bullcrap. It’s also less appealing when you consider the time and effort put towards developing your personal brand, only to have it potentially disappear at a moment’s notice. If it were that important to me, I’d be happy putting down cash just to receive priority support, but alas, even verified accounts don’t mean much these days.
Bonus rant: Uber. Notoriously terrible at customer service, and despite having a valuation of $75.5 billion, you can’t call somebody to complain about missing items on your UberEats order. Instead, we’re reduced to submitting support tickets with reps that can barely piece together basic functions of human communication. In my opinion, arch-rival Skip the Dishes does a significantly better job in this category, although the preferred mechanism is to support the restaurant and order directly.
At least Uber has a support email. Twitter doesn’t even monitor their inboxes!
You don’t really need to know all that content anyway. One of my best friends, previously at Snapchat, once said that if you remove yourself from the daily barrage of news and content for a month, and only stick to high-level news focused on what’s actually important, nothing much changes in the world. We as humans have this idea that we need to know everything that’s happening right now – or else. It’s the fundamental feeling that initiates gossip. Especially worse when it involves other people’s business.
Following updates on social media on the daily is kind of like riding an emotional rollercoaster. A newsfeed can hit every point of your being: happiness, anger, gratitude, sadness, love, jealousy – literally everything you can feel, a newsfeed will make you feel it. But hey, it’s totally worth it to catch a 30 second glimpse of a cute Maltese eating spaghetti (an unhealthy option for doggo, by the way).
The term “social media addiction” only scratches the surface of the problem. As Harvard University researcher Trevor Haynes states in his work regarding social media and dopamine (the happy chemical messenger in your brain), your mind is wired to correlate successful social interactions with feeling good. Makes sense, right? A good phone call to catch up with a friend always makes you feel good.
Instagram knows this, so they implemented a “variable-ratio reward schedule”.
…Instagram’s notification algorithms will sometimes withhold “likes” on your photos to deliver them in larger bursts. So when you make your post, you may be disappointed to find less responses than you expected, only to receive them in a larger bunch later on. Your dopamine centers have been primed by those initial negative outcomes to respond robustly to the sudden influx of social appraisal. This use of a variable reward schedule takes advantage of our dopamine-driven desire for social validation, and it optimizes the balance of negative and positive feedback signals until we’ve become habitual users.“Dopamine, Smartphones & You: A battle for your time” by Trevor Haynes
Much like any vice, moderation is quintessential to a healthy mind and body. Look, as much as I’d love to eat 4 grilled cheeseburgers every single delicious day of my life, there’s absolutely nothing healthy about that. The same can be said about social media. In other words, chill the fuck out.
A recent study suggested that a staggering 27% of people rely on social media for their news, which has led to numerous inaccuracies, misinformation, and greater potential for believing silly conspiracy theories. And you wonder why we’re in the political climate we’re in today.
Even better, consider limiting your news intake to once per week, as recommended by author Tim Ferriss. As described in his book The 4-Hour Workweek, slowing your news intake allows you to spend more time asking your friends, family, and colleagues what’s been happening in the world lately. It makes for more topics of conversation, and allows you to reprioritize your capacity to take in content in favour of more skill-based or creative learning.
We’re bombarded by more content than ever. We’re not really sure if the information overload is actually healthy for us. I’ll err to the side caution and stick to traditional news sources.
Contrary to popular belief, tweeting is not a replacement for being social. To some, it’s kind of obvious that conversations on social media aren’t as meaningful as having a pint with the team at the dive. Having a shit ton of followers doesn’t suddenly mean you’re popular. It just means you have a message that people care about.
Before my account was hacked, I had thousands of followers. What did that mean? Nothing, with a small side of vanity.
That’s exactly why I cringe at the idea of people thinking “social media” is about “being social”. Psychologically, it’s not.
The pandemic really made it clear that limiting your social interactions to chat and video calls is hardly a replacement for in-person meetups. You need to see your friends and family. I realized in my journeys that I’d rather have a small group of legit people, than a large group of people I barely know (that think they know me).
People appear to have replaced “reading books” with “reading tweets and articles”. According to Christian Rudder’s fantastic real-world data science book Datacylsm:
“There will be more words written on Twitter in the next two years than contained in all books ever printed.”“Dataclysm” by Christian Rudder
That’s utterly ridiculous.
I’m an avid book reader. In order to become successful at anything, you need to delve deeper, which only reading books authored by proven experts, and taking educational courses by accredited institutions, can only provide.
Following Mark Cuban’s Twitter feed and reading articles on Bloomberg won’t make you a better businessperson. Picking up a book and immersing yourself can. If we as a species are only limited to so much content to consume on a daily basis, make it count.
Besides, who would you rather hire: a veteran plumber, or a neighbour who’s really good at following YouTube tutorials?
I should add: reading books is one thing. Sharing your newly found information is another. Inspire others to learn too.
Last but not least, it’s so much better to have less reasons to be on your device. Whether you’ve got good friends, a family, a pet, a garden, there’s something out there that is better suited to your attention (and would appreciate you for it too).
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with using social media to kill time. It’s a fantastic time-waster, and we all need something to unwind to. Just recognize that putting a ton of effort into something should be something that you control, not somebody else.
Despite my indifferences mentioned above, I do believe it’s within our duty to always share our thoughts and opinions, especially in our current climate. Progress can only occur when we speak up. Instead of sending everything about me to Twitter, I will instead update it on my blog. It allows me to retain more creative control over my output, definitively own my content, keep my privacy intact, and not rely on engagement metrics and content recommendations to spike the ol’ dopamine meter.
Over and out ✌️