2021: More Social, Less Media

Mark Palfreeman
6 min readJan 8, 2021

After the last of our good habits tapered off with the Fall, Anna and I took a two-week social media hiatus for Christmas break. I know this isn’t novel anymore, but it remains surprisingly difficult. Why?

It took me four days to edit this post, finally nixing every instance of “we,” “us,” and “you” to focus just on my own experience. Thus, things got more personal. And challenging. This post is for me, but if it’s helpful to anyone else, I always love discussing how technology interacts with life, happiness, and goals.

Here are my thoughts about social media tools and how I plan to use them (or not) this year.

Net benefit

I enjoy social media apps; otherwise, I wouldn’t use them. But their downsides are well documented. If something is at all valuable, I tend to ignore its harmful effects and can’t give it up. And yet, I’m no mere animal! I need to assess the net benefit of my tools instead of worrying I’ll miss out on any good thing.

Cal Newport (author of Deep Work and Digital Minimalism) explains it like this:

“Many digital maximalists, who spend their days immersed in a dreary slog of apps and clicks, justify their behavior by listing all of the potential benefits they would miss if they began culling services from their life. I don’t buy this argument. There’s an infinite selection of activities in the world that might bring some value. If you insist on labeling every activity avoided as value lost, then no matter how frantically you fill your time, it’s unavoidable that the final tally of your daily experience will be infinitely negative. It’s more sensical to instead measure the value gained by the activities you do embrace and then attempt to maximize this positive value.”

Here’s my list of pros and cons to determine if social media apps bring me net positive value. This is a summary for brevity, but it’s most effective to break it out for each individual tool.

Pros:

  • Feeling of connection: friends, a larger community, current events
  • Entertainment: pictures, videos, sports, music
  • Inspiration/motivation: others’ experiences push me to change
  • Learning and sharing ideas: without a…

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