As mentioned in a recent post entitled Social Media is Brain Poison, where I used hyperbole to lay out some of the problems with social media, I mentioned that there are some real benefits to this new technology. Connectivity to family and friends is always at the top of the list. The problem is the costs often outweigh the benefits. The reason why we tend to lose with social media, despite what it can offer us, is because we tend to use it incorrectly which the designers of these platforms hope we will do. So how do we use social media in a way that allows us to tap into the benefits while mitigating the costs?
To help answer that question, I will quote Carl Newport, from his book Digital Minimalism.
I conjecture that the vast majority of regular social media users can receive the vast majority of the value these services provide their life in as little as twenty to forty minutes of use per week.
We need to start by using it less. There are benefits, but those benefits do not merit hours of social media time per day. I have found his conjecture to be true. I have not abandoned social media altogether. Instead, I check it once a week and usually spend less than 15 minutes doing so. Any other posts are sent through a free posting service that avoids interacting with these platforms directly. You can receive the benefits you seek without spending hours online scrolling the infinite feed and checking your likes and comments.
Of course, you may ask, what is wrong with spending more time on social media? To answer that question I leave you with one more quote from Newport where he describes a conversation he had with a social media executive.
[The executive was] just raving about these people spending twelve hours a day on Facebook . . . so I asked a question to the guy who was raving: “The guy who’s spending twelve hours a day on Facebook, do you think he’ll be able to do what you’ve done?”.. . ..You can’t, in other words, build a billion-dollar empire like Facebook if you’re wasting hours every day using a service like Facebook.
The only way it would not cost us to spend long hours distracted on social media is if we literally had nothing better to do with our time. As Christians, we have a much higher calling.
4 thoughts on “The Costly Benefits of Social Media”
Quick personal story: I don’t think it’s even good for “keeping in touch” with family. I used to get TONS of likes on Facebook, then when I moved near family, only 2 people wanted to actually visit/see me. I was heartbroken.
I do enjoy reading blogs (like yours!) but only for a set amount of time. Then it’s all real life. I see on the sidebar you’re reading Digital Minimalism. I loved that one! Great advice in there.
Take care 🙂
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Lot of wisdom here. I was on social media to sell my memoir a few years ago, per my publisher’s instructions. It wound up being one of the most emotionally draining times in my life, defeating the whole purpose of sharing testimony. I don’t say everyone needs to do this, but for the sake of my emotional health, I made the choice to severe social media entirely. I am just recently getting back into blogging after years away, but, this time, without any agenda other than lifting the name of the Lord.
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So much truth in your post. Social media can be emotionally draining.
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