A few months ago, I took a long look at how I was using the internet big-picture. This involved breaking down my usage into its individual use-cases e.g. entertainment, learning, work, etc. This high-level view allowed me to be more discerning about how I use digital products; I have compartmentalised my use of specific products to their most valuable use-case (for me). The biggest benefit I saw was reducing the amount of time I spent aimlessly scrolling through social media.
I find Twitter to be the purest social media. It is a way for me to follow and engage with some my favourite strangers – role models, cool internet folk, and thought-leaders in various niches. I spent the requisite time and effort to curate my feed into one that I find insanely valuable. I use Twitter primarily as a form of productive procrastination: being exposed to cool ideas, novel insights, and interesting stuff. I finally empathise with the meme of people tweeting what they eat for breakfast. Although I would never do it, I understand the impulse of sharing impromptu and novel thoughts, especially if you have an audience or community that can and will indulge it. For example, my twitter feed of late has been filled up with people talking about metacognition, those interested in thinking about thinking. Whenever I have any thoughts about thought, I know where to go.
If Twitter is for engaging with my favourite strangers; Instagram is for engaging my favourite people I know. To keep to this, I unfollowed every public figure, publication, and brand I had been following so that I am left with people I know. In doing so, my motivation for jumping on IG is über-clear. There chance of me scrolling endlessly is practically nil, since my feed is not flooded by professional accounts that spam posts and stories. After five or so minutes, I reach the “you’re caught up” message and that is my signal to jump off and do something else. It just makes things so much easier.
Facebook is primarily used as a communication tool. I do not have the Facebook app installed on my phone, nor do I go on it via browser. The Facebook feed is dead to me, and I find little value in it. I am sure that if I curated it, it could be valuable, but it cannot beat the ability and activity of twitter. The only reason why I am still on it is because of Messenger.
Reddit is another tool I use for learning. The community around subreddits for niche areas are unbeatable in terms of value. I am currently learning to become a better writer of fiction and non-fiction, so there are several writing subreddits that I engage with. The same is true for some of the apps that I use in my workflow including Notion and Roam Research – I have gotten so much value from keeping up to date with the activity on their respective subreddits. Reddit is an amazing way to learn from kindred spirits.
This is my go-to source of entertainment or unproductive procrastination. Like for Twitter and Instagram, I have culled my subscriptions list to only those that I get the most joy and value from. Furthermore, I actively cull videos from my feed by ticking the “don’t recommend this to me” box. It makes life easier knowing how I will use YouTube and I find myself falling into fewer and fewer rabbit holes.