I’ve been in YPO — “Young Presidents Organization” — for five and half years and I love it (actually I’m in YPO Gold now that I’m over age 50). My favorite part is being in a forum, which is a group of nine of us that meet monthly to discuss business, personal, and family issues. By opening up and being vulnerable, we are able to both support and learn from each other. What’s so cool about this is that you realize that everyone has issues — even people whose lives seem perfect have struggles. Thus, YPO forum is the opposite of social media: you get to see others as they actually are instead of just seeing their curated highlights that are shared on Instagram and Facebook.
The Social Media Problem
While there are positive aspects of social media, Facebook and other platforms harm our overall happiness and sense of wellbeing. Case in point is a research study out of the University of Tel Aviv found that the constant evaluation of our own lives and comparison to others’ lives as displayed on social media leads to unhappiness. “The Facebook user experience is designed in a way that promotes social comparison (particularly the friends feed), and may establish a tendency to compare oneself to others, also off-platform.” The researchers also found that more frequent use of Facebook leads to greater feelings of envy. Link to study.
Another problem with social media is what it’s doing to us politically. While America was headed down the road of increased political polarization before the rise of social media, it has increased our society’s divisiveness as it facilitates our ability to only consume news that fits our worldview and interact with others within our own bubble. Read more on social media and political polarization from the WSJ here.
I’m not a big social media user but I’m making a pledge to myself — starting right now — to not interact with any social media from now until June 30th. I’ll see how it goes. Here’s what I expect:
- I’ll have more productive or fun uses for the time I’d have otherwise spent using social media
- I’ll be happier
- I won’t be sucked down as many rabbit holes of random content
My question for you: will you join me in pledging to abstain from social media? If June 30th is too long of a time period, how about some lesser period? Two weeks? A week? Two days? A day?
I wonder what we’ll learn.
Announcing a commitment to others increases the chance of success. So feel free to make your own pledge in the comments or email me directly at email@example.com.
I’m pledging to NOT BE APART OF SOCIAL MEDIA
They do nothing for me but mental harm because when I was back in high school they were not around they were NOT inflicting and infiltrating damages upon my mind at their own expense.
You’ve accurately highlighted the downside of social media, John. However, using the principle of “better to light a candle than to curse the darkness”, I’m going to skip the Pledge. My main use of Instagram & Facebook is sharing my nature photos, which (at least in my hyper-optimistic mind) hopefully brings a smile to a few folks’ faces.
Sorry Dad but no. Not right now
Actually can confirm all that you’ve said. I cancelled social media (twatter and fakebook) last year. Also gave up news radio and broadcast news. All geared to make news rather than report the news and create divide so that there were more stories to report. Vicious cycle.
You are correct! I have been more present with loved ones and found productive things to do with my former surfing time.
What’s social media?
I agree to follow the pledge to abstain from social media!
I love this! I regularly do social media fasting when I start to notice my productivity taking a hit to the time suck vortex of social media. This is a longer challenge than I typically give myself, but count me in!
I want to take the pledge. But, for several months, I have been unsuccessfully trying to getting away from social media, Facebook in particular. My college friends communicate via Facebook’s messenger; my parish streams Sunday mass on Facebook; my kids post photos of the grands on Facebook and Instagram. Any suggestions as to how to make the break?
I’ll play! Been sucked in more than I’d like lately.
In through June 30. Thank you for the nudge.
I’m in. Would support a get together in early July with all those who gave this a shot.
Love the enthusiasm for this pledge! I write this on a greyscale filtered iPhone (to help counter the continuous, now habitual urgency of iPhone entertainment /“checking in,” – not to miss “something important.”)
Which is all to say, yes, I’m in on the pledge till the end of June (gulp).
Paul: nice to hear of your 14 month success…
So, that’s why you didn’t respond to my email.
I’m not “on” Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, Twitter, LinkedIn so I’m not sure what defines Social Media (yes, I’m over 70, how could you possibly tell?!?). So I’ll happily give that all up (my time scale – for ever) if I don’t have to give YOU up. Advice please . . .
New technologies typically offer some mix of bad with the good. The rise, pace of growth, and scale of social media offers many positives with a corresponding share of negatives. As a society, we have not had time to adequately study or understand the larger negative impacts of social media, nor have we had time to develop effective counter measures or norms to reduce or manage these negatives. No company or private organization across history has ever operated at such scale or with such far-reaching influence as our social media platforms. It’s a technology to approach with caution.
After viewing the free online Coursera course, The Science of Well Being, I walked away from all social media (it’s now been over 14 months). Prior to this, I was a very active user and consumer of social media. The result has been a measurable increase in my overall happiness and a near total reduction in what I would call my “wall of red in the face frustration moments” that resulted from my reaction to the flood of incendiary, slanted, biased, misinformed, or blatant disinformation that riddles these platforms. I applaud your pledge and encourage everyone to give it a whirl. I don’t believe you will be disappointed.