Quit social media | Dr. Cal Newport | TEDxTysons


Translator: Peter van de Ven
Reviewer: Denise RQ You probably don’t realize that right now, you’re actually
looking at something quite rare. Because I am a millennial
computer scientist book author standing on a TEDx stage, and yet, I’ve never had
a social media account. How this happened
was actually somewhat random. Social media first came onto my radar
when I was at college, my sophomore year of college, this is when Facebook
arrived at our campus. And at the time, which was
right after the first dotcom bust, I had had a dorm room business,
I’d had to shut it down in the bust, and then, suddenly, this other kid
from Harvard, named Mark, had this product called Facebook
and people being excited about it. So in sort of a fit of somewhat
immature professional jealousy, I said, “I’m not going to use this thing. I won’t help this kid’s business;
whatever’s going to amount to.” As I go along my life,
I look up not long later, and I see everyone I know
is hooked on this thing. And from the clarity you can get when you have some objectivity,
some perspective on it, I realized this seems
a little bit dangerous. So I never signed up. I’ve never had
a social media account since. So I’m here for two reasons;
I want to deliver two messages. The first message I want to deliver is that even though I’ve never had
a social media account, I’m OK, you don’t have to worry. It turns out I still have friends, I still know what’s going on in the world; as a computer scientist I still collaborate with people
all around the world, I’m still regularly exposed
serendipitously to interesting ideas, and I rarely describe myself
as lacking entertainment options. So I’ve been OK,
but I’d go even farther and say not only I am OK without social media
but I think I’m actually better off. I think I’m happier, I think I find
more sustainability in my life, and I think I’ve been
more successful professionally because I don’t use social media. So my second goal here on stage is try to convince more of you
to believe the same thing. Let’s see if I could actually
convince more of you that you too would be better off
if you quit social media. So, if the theme of this TEDx event
is “Future Tense,” I guess, in other words,
this would be my vision of the future, would be one in which fewer people
actually use social media. That’s a big claim,
I think I need to back it up. So I thought, what I would do is take the three most
common objections I hear when I suggest to people
that they quit social media, and then for each of these objections,
I’ll try to defuse the hype and see if I can actually
push in some more reality. This is the first
most common objection I hear. That’s not a hermit, that’s actually a hipster web developer
down from 8th Street; I’m not sure. Hipster or hermit?
Sometimes it’s hard to tell. This first objection goes as follows, “Cal, social media is one
of the fundamental technologies of the 21st century. To reject social media would be
an act of extreme [bloodism]. It would be like riding to work
on a horse or using a rotary phone. I can’t take
such a big stance in my life.” My reaction to that objection
is I think that is nonsense. Social media is not
a fundamental technology. It leverages
some fundamental technologies, but it’s better understood as this. Which is to say,
it’s a source of entertainment, it’s an entertainment product. The way that technologist
Jaron Lanier puts it is that these companies
offer you shiny treats in exchange for minutes of your attention
and bites of your personal data, which can then be packaged up and sold. So to say that you don’t use social media
should not be a large social stance, it’s just rejecting one form
of entertainment for others. There should be no more
controversial than saying, “I don’t like newspapers,
I like to get my news from magazines,” or “I prefer to watch cable series,
as opposed to network television series.” It’s not a major political
or social stance to say you don’t use this product. My use of the slot machine image
up here also is not accidental because if you look a little bit closer
at these technologies, it’s not just that they’re
a source of entertainment but they’re a somewhat
unsavory source of entertainment. We now know that many
of the major social media companies hire individuals
called attention engineers, who borrow principles
from Las Vegas casino gambling, among other places, to try to make these products
as addictive as possible. That is the desired
use case of these products: is that you use it in an addictive fashion
because that maximizes the profit that can be extracted
from your attention and data. So it’s not a fundamental technology, it’s just a source of entertainment,
one among many, and it’s somewhat unsavory
if you look a little bit closer. Here’s the second common objection I hear when I suggest that people
quit social media. The objection goes as follows, “Cal, I can’t quit social media because it is vital to my success
in the 21st century economy. If I do not have a well-cultivated
social media brand, people won’t know who I am,
people won’t be able to find me, opportunities won’t come my way, and I will effectively
disappear from the economy.” Again my reaction is once again: this objection also is nonsense. I recently published this book that draws on multiple
different strands of evidence to make the point that,
in a competitive 21st century economy, what the market values is the ability to produce things
that are rare and are valuable. If you produce something
that’s rare and valuable, the market will value that. What the market dismisses,
for the most part, are activities that are easy to replicate
and produce a small amount of value. Well, social media use is the epitome of an easy to replicate activity
that doesn’t produce a lot of value; it’s something that any six-year-old
with a smartphone can do. By definition, the market is not going to give
a lot of value to those behaviors. It’s instead going to reward
the deep, concentrated work required to build real skills and to apply
those skills to produce things – like a craftsman – that are rare and that are valuable. To put it another way:
if you can write an elegant algorithm, if you can write a legal brief
that can change a case, if you can write a thousand words of prose that’s going to fixate
a reader right to the end; if you can look at a sea of ambiguous data and apply statistics,
and pull out insights that could transform a business strategy, if you can do these type of activities
which require deep work, that produce outcomes
that are rare and valuable, people will find you. You will be able to write your own ticket, and build the foundation of a meaningful
and successful professional life, regardless of how many
Instagram followers you have. This is the third comment objection I hear when I suggest to people
that they quit social media; in some sense, I think it might be
one of the most important. This objection goes as follows, “Cal, maybe I agree, maybe you’re right;
it’s not a fundamental technology. Maybe using social media is not
at the core of my professional success. But, you know what? It’s harmless, I have some fun on it
– weird: Twitter’s funny – I don’t even use it that much,
I’m a first adopter, it’s kind of interesting to try it out, and maybe I might miss out
something if I don’t use it. What’s the harm?” Again, I look back and I say:
this objection also is nonsense. In this case, what it misses is
what I think is a very important reality that we need to talk about more frankly, which is that social media brings with it multiple, well-documented,
and significant harms. We actually have to confront
these harms head-on when trying to make decisions about whether or not
we embrace this technology and let it into our lives. One of these harms
that we know this technology brings has to do with your professional success. I just argued before
that the ability to focus intensely, to produce things
that are rare and valuable, to hone skills the market place value on, that this is
what will matter in our economy. But right before that, I argued that social media tools
are designed to be addictive. The actual designed
desired-use case of these tools is that you fragment your attention
as much as possible throughout your waking hours; that’s how these tools
are designed to use. We have a growing amount
of research which tells us that if you spend
large portions of your day in a state of fragmented attention – large portions of your day,
breaking up your attention, to take a quick glance, to just check,
– “Let me quickly look at Instagram” – that this can permanently reduce
your capacity for concentration. In other words, you could
permanently reduce your capacity to do exactly the type of deep effort that we’re finding to be
more and more necessary in an increasingly competitive economy. So social media use is not harmless, it can actually have
a significant negative impact on your ability to thrive in the economy. I’m especially worried about this
when we look at the younger generation, which is the most saturated
in this technology. If you lose your ability
to sustain concentration, you’re going to become less and less
relevant to this economy. There’s also psychological harms
that are well documented that social media brings,
that we do need to address. We know from the research literature
that the more you use social media, the more likely you are
to feel lonely or isolated. We know that the constant exposure to your friends carefully curated,
positive portrayals of their life can leave you to feel inadequate,
and can increase rates of depression. And something I think we’re going to be
hearing more about in the near future is that there’s a fundamental mismatch between the way our brains are wired and this behavior
of exposing yourself to stimuli with intermittent rewards
throughout all of your waking hours. It’s one thing to spend a couple of hours
at a slot machine in Las Vegas, but if you bring one with you,
and you pull that handle all day long, from when you wake up to when you go
to bed: we’re not wired from it. It short-circuits the brain, and we’re starting to find
it has actual cognitive consequences, one of them being this sort of
pervasive background hum of anxiety. The canary in the coal mine for this issue
is actually college campuses. If you talk to mental health experts
on college campuses, they’ll tell you that along with the rise
of ubiquitous smartphone use and social media use
among the students on the campus, came an explosion of anxiety-related
disorders on those campuses. That’s the canary in the coal mine. This type of behavior
is a mismatch for our brain wiring and can make you feel miserable. So there’s real cost to social media use; which means when you’re trying to decide,
“Should I use this or not?”, saying it’s harmless is not enough. You actually have to identify
a significantly positive, clear benefit that can outweigh these potential,
completely non-trivial harms. People often ask, “OK, but what is life like
without social media?” That can actually be
a little bit scary to think about. According to people
who went through this process, there can be a few difficult weeks. It actually is like a true detox process. The first two weeks can be uncomfortable: you feel a little bit anxious,
you feel like you’re missing a limb. But after that, things settle down, and actually, life after social media
can be quite positive. There’s two things I can report back
from the world of no social media use. First, it can be quite productive. I’m a professor at a research institution,
I’ve written five books, I rarely work past 5 pm on a weekday. Part of the way I’m trying
to able to pull that off is because it turns out,
if you treat your attention with respect, – so you don’t fragment it;
you allow it to stay whole, you preserve your concentration – when it comes time to work you can do one thing after another,
and do it with intensity, and intensity can be traded for time. It’s surprising how much
you can get done in a eight-hour day if you’re able to give each thing
intense concentration after another. Something else I can report back
from life without social media is that outside of work,
things can be quite peaceful. I often joke I’d be very comfortable
being a 1930s farmer, because if you look at my leisure time, I read the newspaper
while the sun comes up; I listen to baseball on the radio; I honest-to-god sit in a leather chair and read hardcover books at night
after my kids go to bed. It sounds old-fashioned,
but they were onto something back then. It’s actually a restorative, peaceful way
to actually spend your time out of work. You don’t have
the constant hum of stimuli, and the background hum of anxiety
that comes along with that. So life without social media
is really not so bad. If you pull together these threads,
you see my full argument that not everyone, but certainly
much more people than right now, much more people
should not be using social media. That’s because we can first, to summarize, discard with the main concerns that it’s a fundamental
technology you have to use. Nonsense: it’s a slot machine
in your phone. We can discard with this notion
that you won’t get a job without it. Nonsense: anything a six-year-old
with a smartphone can do is not going to be
what the market rewards. And then I emphasized the point
that there’s real harms with it. So it’s not just harmless. You really would have to have
a significant benefit before you would say
this trade-off is worth it. Finally I noted,
that life without social media: there’s real positives associated with it. So I’m hoping that when many of you
actually go through this same calculus, you’ll at least consider
the perspective I’m making right now, which is: many more people
would be much better off if they didn’t use this technology. Some of you might disagree, some of you might have scathing
but accurate critiques of me and my points, and of course, I welcome
all negative feedback. I just ask that you direct
your comments towards Twitter. Thank you. (Applause)

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100 thoughts on “Quit social media | Dr. Cal Newport | TEDxTysons

  1. I tried saving my friends from the addiction of social media. But, non of them is listening to a word I say.
    They believe that somebody has to have social media accounts to be a part of the society.

  2. I have a much fuller life without facebook! Ive managed to keep touch with those who matter and the rest never were REAL friends anyway.

  3. Social media is great, and it does help us connect, to be honest. I mean I've got family and friends in different countries an if it weren't for social media I would have no connection with them and forgotten so much. The problem is that we have abused it you know. Now we don't just use social media to connect we use it as entertainment, verification, to "fit in". Its become more of an obsession for mostly everyone if we want to admit it or not. It's taken so much time away from us one minute we just checked to see if we got any messages and the next thing we know we have been on it for 20 minutes endlessly scrolling through Instagram and you are late to work or school. The idea of social media is great but it comes with too many negatives and that have ended up controlling us rather than we controlling the device.

  4. I quit every social media but there’s one a can’t quit: youtube. It’s true I feel fresh since I erase all of the others I was addicted. I’m considering getting rid of YouTube too, but it’s at least educational

  5. I deleted my Instagram and facebook but I just need to stop people sharing status in WhatsApp without deleting their contacts it's impossible mate

  6. I deleted my Instagram and facebook but I just need to stop people sharing status in WhatsApp without deleting their contacts it's impossible mate

  7. In order for this video to be known to your world, it has to be posted on YouTube, AKA a form of SOCIAL MEDIA. Also, I use social media to communicate with people that I must reach that I cannot via telephone number. 😮

  8. My current state is somewhat… complicated.
    I use YouTube to watch courses related to my future activities that are essential for my long-term success.
    I really want to quit YouTube but i don't think it would leave a positive result on my life.

  9. The moment I quit fb and IG I felt a huge relief, like 2000 pounds taken out from me, omg, don't have to pretend anymore feels so good. It really is an attention drug and I was addicted. It really destroyed my life until I finaly understood it. No more.
    IG=anxiety

  10. I used to have an addiction to social media (23 year old male just graduated college). What made me quit was when I reconnected with a bunch of college buddies and we went out for our birthdays and pretty much everyone was just on their phone or trying to take snaps and stories of the entire night rather than just enjoying the night and being in the moment. Everyone is so focused on making it look like they had a good night instead of actually just having a good night. So I got rid of my instagram and snapchat and I hardly use Facebook if ever. It's weird seeing how many people are addicted to making their lives look good instead of it actually being good. I pray for the future generations because suicide anxiety and depression are just going to run rampant.

  11. Social media addiction is just like a drug addiction. Drug addicts gts with a high or they don’t people on social media are on it before gts if not on it all night. Drug addicts wake up and need to get high people who are addicted to social media wake up to check what’s going on their pages you see where I’m going.

  12. In my opinion he is right in almost everything, although if you manage to use them right, social media can become a powerful tool in terms of communicating, finding ideas and opinions, marketing and promoting your business etc… Managing to use them right though is reaaaaly hard..

  13. Once I went to a guided tour organized through Facebook. There I saw a beautiful girl, whom I later found on this Event page on Facebook. That turned out to be my greatest love and relationship.
    Will I consider quitting Social Media? Probably yes. Do I regret using it? Definitely not. In fact, I'm grateful for it.

  14. His first point sounds like a knock against capitalism than social media. Walmart is also trying to maximize profits.

    His second point I don't even care to address.

    Finally, his third point I can see. Sometimes I cannot get off Twitter. It's hard. I give him that. All the same, I am not convinced to quit social media.

  15. I deleted my Facebook and twitter a while ago, but I find it harder to let go of my Instagram or snapchat because I want to keep in touch with people

  16. the problem of social media is you won't pay attention to something more important because you're keep on reading comments 😁.

  17. What I really HATE about social media is when I get unfriended or blocked or ghosted by a social media friend. To me, I feel it's like a knife stabbed into my heart & severely cause me to have depression when I get unfriended/blocked/ghosted. When I used social media, besides having an addiction of getting validation from my social media friends from my postings, I also have an addiction in having my social media friends list getting bigger & bigger. Thus, when I noticed my friends list suddenly gets smaller (even by 1 person short), I decided to stalk who unfriended/blocked/ghosted me. Of course, that resulted me to have bad behavior: stalker/harassment to find who is in my definition, I defined as a "traitor" when they unfriended/blocked/ghosted me & then harassing them to re-add me back to their friends list.

    Because that bad behavior of mine started to get out of hand due to my issues with social media, I later realize it's best for me to completely delete my social media profile & stay away from it as much as I can. So I did. Deleting all my social media profiles like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc… wasn't easy for me at first. But exactly like what this video describes: after couple weeks or so, I DID felt a sense of freedom. Because I no longer have a social media profile, I no longer have the feel to have the want to seek validation or popularity & add more people into my friends list.

    Deleting my social media profiles is the BEST decision I ever made! I was able to feel much more Happy when I'm no longer in social media. As an introverted person, I'm not really sociable, but I do want friends. However, based from my experiences with social media, social media is not a good way to really make friends… After deleting my social media, I starting to practice meditation & when I finally find my REAL happiness, I realized, sometimes it's best to be happy alone & accepting the way life is, than forcing myself to make friends & seek validation. With this, I see the real happiness in me & it makes me able to do well in my work. I also realized that in 24 hours in a day, there's really not enough time to be in social media anyways.

    I've been "social media sober" since late 2018 last year & hope to remain social media sober as long as I can.

  18. I won't quit toutube because I learn so much from it ,but I make sure I am not watching meaningless content.. I don't have tiktok or facebook , and I use instagram and twitter brieflly because there are some ibspirational people on there that are trying to spread a good message, I don't personally post anything ,and I think it is all about moderation…
    And be careful not to allow it wast your time..

  19. We must not blame the tool itself but rather its user, it is like cars, it is not that there are deaths that it is the fault of the car itself

  20. In 2017 I quit snapchat, and two days ago, I quit Instagram and Facebook as a test… I feel that I will get happier and better.

  21. Social media is good for keeping in touch with your friends from school whom you maybe lost contact with and finding out about events happening in the city etc… But in a way it does have a negative impact and I feel that personally. Posting stories on daily basis has become a necessity for most. You want to share those memories with you friends and family in real life. Sometimes people are afraid to approach you as you appear too much of a high profile online and always look busy to hang out with friends. This alone is a big problem. Social media is creating a world where our lives are so perfect and even in reality we no longer want to share the difficult times with friends because they only want to hear the highlights and the success stories. So in a way we are forced to create a persona to please others all the time and not by choice but approval of others. I wish I could live in the 90s again when we used to find out what is happening in friends life by physically being there and communicating in person.

  22. Social media is a carefully and selectively edited slice of our lives, a false representation of our true self, a personal illusion shared for attention, acceptance and validation to feed our insecurities and ego.

  23. I deleted my Instagram yesterday. Mind you I probably made about 5 accounts in my life time that I made and I would eventually delete. I was tired of feeling like people were watching my every move ,stalking me,judging me, making fake accounts to contact me because they could hide behind them. I felt like I was missing out on spending time with my daughter who would see me consumed by the madness . I would be arguing about Instagram or arguing on Instagram or finding something on ig that upsetting me . I’ve tried to do modeling and clothing when it came to Instagram trying to use it as a platform . But realized it was a popularity contest and it was all about how many followers you had . It started to make my head hurt . I felt like I lost sleep . I lost myself . I’ve had Twitter, Snapchat, tumblr, Facebook . I deleted all of those because either it was drama filled or time consuming . Why is social media called social media when your staring at phone the whole time instead of socializing with real people around you ?

  24. YouTube is social media. It's funny how the only way anyone would ever receive this message about quitting social media is through social media.

    So, the lesson is: You should quit your best source of modern day information. No thanks. I'll just use it and everything else in moderation and keep my personality in check, which is what my parents already taught me to do.

  25. Or install an app like Daywise, where you can schedule all your phone notifications, which aids in unbroken concentration and productivity.

  26. This was surprisingly really good! I learn so much on social media but it is also a major distraction too. Womp womp

  27. watching this again after almost 3 years off Facebook and one year off the "less harmless but owned by the same company": Instagram. I have more time for the things I am focusing on! I am happier because I am not comparing my life to others. Their clean house, their sweet spouse sending flowers..beach vacation. Nope. My "circle" feels A LOT smaller, but it feels real.

  28. Wow youtube is paying Ted Talk for my view and Im getting nothing only thanks for watching and anxiois depressed etc

  29. it has been over 2 years now i left facebook and never joined twitter plus i am so into tech but i use it in many other ways that is non standard . But i use and feel there is greater importance for sharing information per topic on community bulletin boards ( forums )you get bet the best quality in responses most of the time.

  30. I do understand his point, and I agree with all of them! However I have a bad memory and want to remember the things I have done in my life, so sites like Instagram or Facebook are a great way to document what happens in my life so I can look back on it and feel glad that I can recall these memories. I know that I would likely be more productive without it (as I do my fair share of mindless scrolling oops) but when I post I always am aware that this post will remain as a record for the fun that I have had, or the important moments in my life that would normally be forgotten or lost to time and memory, all those small mundane things you don’t think matter at the time, but 10 years later it is fun to look back and remember them! I know you could technically write letters, or buy a Polaroid or something but access to the internet is just more convenient and I don’t have time to scrap book my entire life (as much as I would enjoy that)

  31. That fragmented attention bit is so relatable. I was recently studying for an exam and I found it incredibly difficult to stay concentrated for longer periods. I couldn't do quality work for more than half an hour. I had to try very hard to get something done without losing my focus and attention. Never knew social media would have such negative impact as this.

  32. I heard one of my colleagues who went to Europe and posted all kinds of pictures on the Facebook saying she is suffering from diarrhea after eating different kind of foods in Europe. She looked horrible as she was saying that. I was thinking to myself you would not post that dark side of your story from fancy trip and picture of your face,huh.

  33. I only just started Instagram this past summer and I am basically a freshman in college. I started posting photos every few days and then it turned into every few weeks. The only in fact, the last time I opened the app was just a few weeks ago. I normally check it every so often to see how my old classmates are doing.

  34. If your saying quit sOcial media it shOuld be include yOutube all we had when we reach Out and see things even tv is a sOcial media you can see what peOple are dOin sO better nO phOne tv radiO just had yOur bOoks gO out and sOcialized with friends family bOnd and gOing wOrk

  35. Here because the last decade of my life is a blur. Smartphones and social media became popular when I was in middle school. I feel like my social development is behind.. as I have crippling social anxiety… Now because of filters I hate how I look in the mirror… I have all these "friends" but I have never felt so lonely. I also have a 3 year old who has seen my face stuck in my phone all too much. It's time to take my life back.

  36. Lol, ive so much great friends, connections, exposure and money from social media. No thanks bro

  37. I think YouTube is addictive like facebook !! You start with Ted videos and end up with logan paul vlogs !! 4 hrs straight !! It keeps you in a comfort zone of knowing whats going on around you without interacting… Do you think it works that way in real life ??

  38. Believe it or not social media is one of the causes of depression in modern days and also is causing suicides tendencies between teen-agers.. Most of it is empty and addictive so keep you far from what is important and from learn something new or real social interaction..

  39. Never being on Instagram and snapchat. I used Facebook 3years ago and was addicted alot took my decision and left Facebook and started reading books .I swear this was my best decision in life which I'll never regret social media breaks close relationships

  40. I don’t use social media. I do use YouTube. What I can tell you is that my confidence, certainty, focus and clarity is incomparable to my old friends who still use it to this day!!! And probably income though I can’t say for certain

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