This past weekend, I picked up a copy of Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport. As many people, I felt information overload creep into my life too quickly, and I sought a reasonable solution. Cal has been a contrarian voice against social media since it’s inception. While I don’t agree with everything he says, he makes some good points:
- Attention. Formal studies have been conducted, and they’ve shown the “attention residue” effect caused by brief interruptions. This is extremely pervasive with social media – just one “quick” check and one “quick” refresh. It doesn’t work that way. These companies engineered their apps in a way that is designed to trap you for hours. The effects are most profound when it affects one’s ability to do deep work. Resisting these options is hardly a choice, therefore shutting them down is usually better.
- Addictive. Twitter can be super addictive – especially for someone who loves to learn new things. But I’m spending more time learning new things than implementing them. I feel that quitting Twitter (and taking a break) will give me the psychological push towards my goals. It’s telling yourself that you value your attention; so much so that you’ll quit Twitter for it.
- Echo Chambers. The algorithms are built to maximize screen time. Therefore, we see our feed populated with similar views, and similar insights about the world – further skewing our map of reality. We take the world as it is, and rarely are we asked to dwell on our opinions.
There are many more that Cal goes into in his book. These are just a few that prompted me to take a step back for a while. Twitter might be great, however, I don’t find a compelling reason to keep my account active.
I found a website named Tiny Follow on Product Hunt (tinyfollow.com). You can schedule emails that send you the latest tweets from people in your circle. I’m using Tiny Follow for keeping up with tweets. I can keep up with whatever is going on in Twit – O – Sphere, and still concentrate on my life.
Most people can live focused lives with an active Twitter account. I can’t. You might follow in the same genre, so I ask you to consider your digital behaviors and whether they are serving you well.
Sigh. I’ll miss you, but maybe not. We’ll see. Bye bye Twitter!
I would love to hear your thoughts. What do you think about Twitter? Is it eroding your concentration and focus? Do you have suggestions for my experiment? I would be so thrilled to hear what you think: firstname.lastname@example.org