Translator: Noelia Castellano Reviewer: Miguel A. Quiceno Good… they probably don’t notice that right now they are looking at something quite strange, because I’m a Gen Y computer science writer, at a TEDx event and yet, I have never had a social media account. In fact, how this happened was somewhat fortuitous. Social media came on my radar for the first time, when I was in my second year of college, that’s when Facebook came to our Campus and at that time, – which was right after the first “.com” crash – I had a university business, which I had to close due to the collapse And then suddenly this Harvard boy named Mark has this product called Facebook and people are excited about it. So in a fit of jealousy and professional immaturity, I said, “I’m not going to use this. I’m not going to contribute to this boy’s business, or whatever it is going to be.
” As I go on with my life, I see that not long after, everyone I know is hooked on this. And from the clarity you get, when you have some objectivity and perspective on it, I realized that it seemed somewhat dangerous. So I never went in. I have never had a social media account since. I am here for two reasons and I want to give two messages. The first message I want to give, is that although I have never had social networks, I’m fine, you don’t have to worry. (Laughs) Turns out I still have friends I know what is happening in the world; as a computer scientist, I am still collaborating with people from all over the world, – fortunately I am regularly exposed to interesting ideas – And I rarely describe myself as someone lacking in entertainment options.
So I’m fine but I would even go a little further and I would say that not only am I fine without social networks, but actually, I think I’m much better. I think I am happier, I have more sustainability in my life and I think I have had more professional success, because I don’t use social media. My second goal in this scenario, it is trying to convince more of you to believe the same. Let’s see if I can really convince more of you, that they would also be much better off if they leave social media.
So if the theme of this TEDx event is ‘The Future,’ I guess in other words this would be my vision of the future: A future in which fewer people use social networks. That’s a great claim, I think I have to back it up. So I thought what I would do would be to take the three most common objections I hear, when I suggest people leave social media and then for each one I will try to calm the advertising tension and see if I can really make them see reality. This is the most common first objection I hear. (Laughs) He’s not a hermit, he’s actually a hipster web developer from 8th street, I’m not sure.
(Laughs) Hipster or hermit? Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish between them. So the first objection is this: “Cal, social media is one of the fundamental technologies of the 21st century. Rejecting them would be an extreme act of obsolescence. It would be like riding a horse to work or using a rotary phone. I cannot take such a stance in my life. ” My answer to that objection is that it doesn’t make any sense. Social media is not a fundamental technology. They use some fundamental technology, but it is better understood as this. That is, it is a source of entertainment, it is an entertainment product. The way technologist Jaron Lanier puts it, is that these companies offer them brilliant gifts, in exchange for minutes of your attention and bits of your personal information, which can be packed and put up for sale later.
So saying they don’t use social media shouldn’t be a great social stance, it is only rejecting one form of entertainment for others. There should be no more controversy to say: “I don’t like newspapers, I like magazine news,” or “I prefer cable television over free.” Saying that they don’t use this product is not a social or political stance. I have not put the image of a casino machine by chance, since if you look at these technologies, a little more closely, they are not only a source of entertainment, rather they are a source of unpleasant entertainment. We now know that many of the big social media companies they hire individuals called care engineers, who borrow principles from casinos in Las Vegas and elsewhere, to attempt to make these products as addictive as possible.
The intended use of these products is that they use them addictively, because that maximizes the benefits that can be extracted from your attention and your data. So, they are not fundamental technology, they are only one source of entertainment among many, And if you look at them closely, they are unpleasant. This is the second common objection I hear, when I suggest people leave them The objection is: “Cal, I can’t quit social media, because they are vital to my success in the 21st century economy. If I don’t have a well-cultivated brand on social media, people will not know who I am and no one will be able to find me; opportunities won’t come to me and I will effectively disappear from the economy. ” So again my answer to this is: “This objection also makes no sense.” I recently published this book, which is based on multiple evidences, to get to the point that in a competitive market in the 21st century, what the market values it is the ability to create exceptional and valuable things.
If they produce something exceptional and valuable, the market will value it. What the market largely discards, they are activities that are easy to replicate and that produce a small amount of value. Well the use of social media is the epitome, an activity that is easy to replicate and that does not produce much value. It’s something any six-year-old can do with a smartphone. By definition, the market will not place much value on such behaviors. Instead, it will reward intensive and focused work, that is required to develop and apply real skills in creating things – like a craftsman – that are unique and valuable. To put it another way: If they can write a fancy algorithm, if they can write a law study that can turn a case around, if they can write thousands of words in prose, that will hook a reader until the end, if they can look at a sea of ambiguous data and apply statistics and extract ideas that could transform a business strategy.
If they can do these kinds of work-intensive activities, that produce unique and valuable results, people will find them. They will be able to write their own ticket and build the foundations of a meaningful and successful professional life, regardless of how many Instagram followers they have. This is the third common objection I hear, when I suggest people leave social media in a sense, I think it could be one of the most important. The objection is: “Cal, maybe I agree with you and you’re right; it’s not core technology. Maybe the use of social networks is not the center of my professional success.
But you know what? They are harmless, they amuse me – how weird, Twitter is funny – I don’t use them that much either, I’m starting to use them, it is something interesting to try them and maybe I could miss something if I don’t use them. What is the damage? ” So I say again, ‘This objection doesn’t make sense either.’ In this case, what is lost is a reality that I consider very important, of which we need to speak more sincerely, which is: ‘Social networks bring with them multiple and significant well-documented damage.
‘ And in fact, we have to confront these damages directly, when it comes to making the decision, whether or not to adopt this technology and allow it into our lives. One of the damages that we know that this technology brings with it, it is related to your professional success. I just argued that the ability to concentrate intensely, to create unique and valuable things, polish skills that the market values; this is what is going to matter in our economy. But just before that, I argued that social media tools, they are designed to be addictive. The true purpose of the design of these tools, is that you fragment your attention as much as possible throughout the day.
This is how these tools are designed to be used. We have a growing amount of research, who tell us that if they spend large portions of their day in a state of fragmented attention; – large portions of the day constantly dividing your attention, for a quick look, or just check out Instagram – This can permanently reduce your ability to concentrate. In other words, they could permanently decrease your capacity to do exactly the kind of intensive effort that is increasingly needed in an increasingly competitive economy. So they are not harmless, in fact they can have a significant negative impact, in your ability to thrive in the economy. I am especially concerned for the younger generations, which are the most saturated by this technology. If they lose their ability to sustain concentration, they are going to be less and less relevant to this economy.
In addition there are psychological damages that have been well documented, that are triggered by social media and that we need to address. Thanks to the research literature, we know that the more they use social networks, they are more likely to feel lonely or isolated. We know that constant exposure to positives and carefully arranged portraits of the lives of your friends, it can lead them to feel inadequate and can increase rates of depression. And something that I think we will hear more about in the near future, is that there is a fundamental mismatch, between the way our brains are wired and this behavior of exposing themselves to stimuli with intermittent prizes throughout the day. It’s one thing to spend a couple of hours at a slot machine in Vegas, But if they carry one and pull that lever all day from the time they get up until they go to bed. We are not made for that. It’s a short circuit for the brain and we are beginning to find that it has real cognitive consequences.
One of them is that pervasive feeling of anxiety. Now, the warning of this problem is in the universities. If they talk to mental health experts from universities, they will tell you that with the rise in ubiquitous use of smartphones and social media among campus students, an explosion of upheaval has occurred related to anxiety on those campuses. So that’s the caveat. This behavior is a maladjustment for the brain and it can make them miserable.
So, there is a real cost for using social media, which means when they try to decide: should I use this or not? saying it is harmless is not enough. They really have to identify a clear, meaningful and positive benefit that can overcome these potential damages, which are not trivial at all. People often ask: “Okay, but: what would life be like without social media?” Thinking about it can be a bit scary. According to people I know who have gone through this process; there may be a difficult few weeks. In fact, it is like a detoxification process. The first two weeks can be uncomfortable. They feel a bit anxious, as if a limb is missing, but after that things settle down And actually, life without social media can be very positive. There are two things I can report about the world without social media. First, it can be very productive. I am a professor at a research institute, I have written five books and I rarely work after five in the afternoon on weekdays.
Now part of why I’m trying to achieve that It is because it turns out that if they treat your care with respect, – without fragmenting it and allow it to remain whole and preserve your ability to concentrate – when it comes to work, they can do one task after another with intensity and the intensity can be exchanged for time. It’s amazing how much can be done in eight hours, if they are able to focus intensely on one thing after another. Another thing I can tell you about life without social networks, is that outside of work, things can be pretty quiet.
I usually joke that he would be very comfortable being a farmer in 1930, because if you look at my free time, I read the newspaper at dawn, I listen to baseball on the radio. I sit in a leather chair and I read a hardcover book, after my kids go to bed. It sounds old-fashioned but they have a purpose. In fact, it is a restorative way and very calm from spending her time outside of work.
They do not have those constant stimuli in their life and that feeling of anxiety that they bring with them. So life without social media really isn’t that bad. So if you put these lines together, you will see my full argument, why I think; not all, but many more people who currently use social media, they shouldn’t. To sum it up, that must first that we can rule out the main concerns, that it is essential and that it should be used. Nonsense, it is a slot machine on their mobiles. We can rule out that they will not get work if they do not use them. Nonsense: anything a six year old can do, It will not be what the market will reward.
And then I emphasized that there is real harm. So, they are not harmless. They really should have a significant benefit, before saying that the compensation is worth it. And finally I mentioned that life without social networks it has very positive effects. So, I hope that when many of you really do this same calculation, at least consider the perspective I’m raising now, which is that many more people would be much better, if they didn’t use this technology. Certainly some of you may disagree, some will have scathing reviews – albeit spot on – about me and my arguments, and of course, I accept negative comments. I only ask that you leave your comments on Twitter. Thank you.
Read More: Top LinkedIn Marketing Strategies