Where are my social media links?

I’m supposed to encourage you to follow me on social media. And yet, I’m not going to do that.

This is the part of my website where I’m supposed to encourage you to follow me on social media. And yet, I’m not going to do that.

I have the accounts. I’ve had them for years. As of the end of 2023, as I write this, I also haven’t posted to them for years. This is because I don’t believe that social media as we find it today continues to deliver on a promise that drew me to platforms like Facebook and Twitter almost twenty years ago. Back then, these platforms offered what they promised—a way to see and send updates to close friends about life. But that is not where we find ourselves today. I cannot pinpoint an exact date or feature update that made me change my fundamental views of social media, but over time in the past decade these platforms began to feel alien to me. They no longer primarily felt like a comfortable digital gathering places of human associates; they felt like noisy bars in which I could barely make out my conversations over the throb of a shouting crowd, the familiar photos on its walls competing with a mounting pileup of graffiti and stickers. And that’s before considering the longer-term effects of visiting constantly.

Social media usage today is taxing and shortening our attention spans, removing nuance from delicate and important conversations, promoting communication in echo chambers, and reinforcing harmful notions that public discourse surrounding many sensitive topics can happen via a ping-pong of pithy messages that can fit on an index card. I’m sure if you take an uninterrupted moment of reflection, you can come up with more concerns of your own.

My issue is not about digital communication per se. Here you are reading this on the internet. Internet usage is now part of life, and I think that’s altogether a positive. But the type and quantity of an individual’s internet usage should be conscientiously self-directed. Consider eating, an unarguably natural and necessary part of life. Now imagine a world in which everyone began eating meals and snacks at the most plentiful and ballooning all-you-can-eat buffets. There’s nothing inherently wrong with buffets as a concept. But if the amount of quality food available is dwarfed by immediately snackable junk; and when the buffet owner itself knowingly puts what it thinks we will most readily eat in front of us before we conscientiously think about what we need; and when most people are visiting this buffet daily (if not many times per day)…well, you have a buffet problem.

I have elected both to limit my exposure to social media as well as to stop posting the details of my life and thoughts on social media platforms. This stance is somewhat ironic, given that for many years I worked as a digital strategist, which included social media strategy. I still understand the appeal and power of these platforms. And indeed from time-to-time social media posts do contain useful information and updates. I have less chosen to spur social media altogether and more chosen to conscientiously regulate my usage of it in the same way I conscientiously have decided not to watch TV at every free moment or visit an all-you-can-eat buffet every hour.

Technology evolves incredibly quickly these days. It’s possible, if not likely, that new communication platforms will emerge soon that will change my outlook and behavior with respect to social media. As technology changes, and as my own needs change, I will re-evaluate.

You’ve now learned more about me by reading this brief page than by viewing, liking, or sharing anything I might post on social media.

If you’re interested in discussing social media and its effects—that is to say, really having a conversation either face-to-face or via a digital platform not fundamentally designed like a slot machine—please be in touch.

Image: ChatGPT