Effective use of the internet, if even such a phrase is appropriate, relies on careful consideration given to the filters through which we interface with it. This ostensibly includes the apps downloaded on your phone or onto your desktop. Applications that have a clear-cut use-case such as camera, an activity tracker, or music streaming are of a lesser concern than ones intended to be used socially. This is because the former are used on an as-needed basis while the latter can consume whatever time you have available. The state of social media today is such that they are optimising for app-usage: how long you stay on the app and engaged through the various features. As such, the most value will be derived by being particular and ruthless with how the social feed’s on each platform are curated.
Facebook was the original social feed that people interacted with, unwittingly enamoured with, and consumed by. It is algorithmically populated with content that the platform thinks you will like and engage with, thus roping you in deeper into the network. Originally, people liked Facebook pages of all varieties from musicians, TV shows, and sports. Combined with updates and posts from friends, the Facebook feed become a whirlpool for throwing away time. It was, practically, endless; we scrolled to our heart’s content. More than a decade on from that innovation, I am not sure we have learnt so much from the experience.
Curating your personal social feeds is the single-most valuable thing a person can do to increase their quality and reduce overall time spent on them. I recently completed this feed detox by associating a different social media platform with a different use-case e.g. what value am I getting from each?
The value for me is in keeping in touch with friends I have made along the way. As a result, I unfollowed every single non-person-I-am-friends-with on the platform. This includes brands, comedy pages, and celebrities. My IG feed is fully of friends and family. The biggest plus from this change has been the reduction in app-time for IG. I didn’t realise this, but commercial IG pages post an insane amount, upwards of 3 or 4 times a day. If you multiply that by 20 or 30 commercial IG’s of celebrities or brands trying to sell you stuff, it clogs up your feed and stories in a disruptive way. Real people who use the app post maybe once a week, and a story every few days. It is much more manageable, and I found myself voluntarily closing the app once I am caught up with the latests posts and stories.
Similar to Instagram, I use LinkedIn as a way of keeping in touch with colleagues and professional relationships. I follow companies and organisations that I have had a professional relationship with before, whether I was employed there or worked with them on a project.
Twitter is a place I got to when I want to think. Let me explain, I follow people who I consider thought-leaders, or at the very least, people who tweet and share about niche’s I am interested in. This includes metacognition, entrepreneurship, creativity, and writing. More than anything, my twitter feed is a source of discovery for me, if I want to be intellectually engaged, this is where I go.
Reddit is where I go to for entertainment – for keeping up with pop culture should I ever feel in the mood to do so.
Facebook is dead to me. The main reason why is because it purports to be is a one-size fits all feed where I can satisfy all the needs I have for my feed. Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Reddit do better for what I use them for than Facebook does, at least for the moment. So now I only use it for the messenger functionality.