Quit social media | Dr. Cal Newport | TEDxTysons

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)

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

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  • I guess if you have a lack of willpower, quitting social media is a good choice. You can always go on a fast or something when you realize you’re becoming too distracted. Remove it from your devices and just devote yourself to other things. Social media is not the enemy, the addictive nature of sinful human beings is the problem. We should quit blaming inanimate things for our own heart problems.

  • Such an ableist attitude toward technology. I find that I'm more connected to long-distance relationships with friends and family, as well as connect with friends and family we are unable to physically meet up with because of disabilities. I concentrate more while I'm on the media than when I'm not on it. I need the stimuli to aid concentration where I need it to be which is not on destructive path and am able to choose that path myself rather than allow others influences to affect me negatively. I am also an introvert so I don't need actual real life interaction to drain my social batteries as an extrovert would be driven to search out. Before social media, I wasn't able to connect and now I am able to better than before, just because it doesn't work for you doesn't mean that it doesn't work for someone else. Of course, I also turn off the sound and vibration of any notifications attached to my social media, so I still have some detachment since I found this was overstimulating me and pulling attention where I didn't want it.

  • Recently I've felt quite put off from instagram, which for the past few years has been a HUGE sinkhole of my time. All these hours, posting then deleting, reposting… for what? My plan is to not post anything for a month and then see how it goes. The only thing I'm hesitant about is that I have a few online friends that I would lose if I no longer had instagram. We're friends enough to talk often but not enough to ask for cell phone numbers, which might not seem like a real friendship but some of them are people I've known for years. I think I will just keep it to talk to them. Ideally, I want to replace all of my instagram time with using Duolingo instead, so I'm actually learning something.

  • Okay, time for people to mind their own business. Limiting social media use would be a wise step but it has its uses for marketing, education and general interaction. Focus on your own end and others will do the same.

  • I actually decided to get rid of all my platforms sometime last year. I nearly went a WHOLE YEAR without it, but unfortunately I was drawn back to IG just recently. During that long absence of not having it, I felt SO much more happier, relaxed, light and at peace. I just felt free and had loads more time on my hands! That negativity that most of you probably face, had simply disappeared, so I honestly don’t know why I reconsidered going back to that toxic world. Anyway, I only returned to IG for a few days & once again I felt SO…I don’t want to say jealous coz I’m not like that, you should just be yourself, but it was definitely something similar and a sense of insecurity also hit me. It was horrible, so I knew straightaway I had to GET RID FOR GOOD this time! And so I did. I don’t miss it AT ALL! It really is such a dark place…All about being perfect & showing off, etc. Awful. Anyone that’s thinking of deleting, please do! You won’t regret it! 👏

  • I just uninstalled all of my social media today leaving youtube because i love learning through youtube and communication is somehow limited here. First hour after i uninstalled my social medias, i already have heavy withdrawal. Everytime i feel like something is funny, i had this urge to share it. I also on tiptoe thinking of unread messages or the info i'm going to lose. It's all nonsense, but i'm feeling the withdrawal, which means i am severely addicted.
    But i won't give in. I am looking forward to be able to sustain concentration longer and free of my fear of losing out. Kudos to everyone trying! God bless us all

  • I deleted Facebook I am thinking about deleting Twitter. I occasionally use Instagram and Snapchat. Tumblr and Pinterest I use for ideas and that's it. I believe social media is better for if you have a business I don't have a business yet… so I only use social media a bit. When I start my business I will be using it but for only 30 mins.

  • I think most people make the mistake of believing that those Facebook "friends" are real life friends.
    I made that mistake too, then I started putting quotes to that word, it was always Facebook "friends".
    Then peace came !
    I now see Facebook for what it is. A plain media !
    I go there and write and read as I would do with any media out there.
    I used to feel bad about "friends" not reacting to my "important posts", but now I can have a post with zero comment or like and still feel just fine about it.

    One of the reasons I can't discard Facebook is that it's part of my business now. I manage some business profiles and that makes quitting not z good idea.

  • I have been following Dr. Newport's advice since a year and a half and I've never done better at studies than I do at this moment. Thank you, I owe my academic success to you Cal ♥️
    P.S. It all changed when I read his books 'deep work' last spring and quite later, 'digital minimalism'

  • Since I quit fb and ig, i am less distracted and more focused on real life. Just got done building a website for my business and also my yard looks super nice now because I’ve been putting energy into it. 😁

  • After youtube addiction I can't read books I purchased many but not dare to read .
    My imagination is so weak after youtube. It is more dangerous than smoking cigarettes.
    You can sleep earlier cigarettes will not stop you but videos can engage you to sleep late

  • I used to be addicted to being on social media until I realized how unhappy it made me. I started focusing on likes and what other people favored that I shared or what photos they loved more. It causes you to look at your insecurities more because maybe in one photo that isn’t the perfect angle of the best side of your face or body didn’t get as many likes. Or maybe it’s the opposite where you get more attention when you post photos of yourself looking flawless but not when you post photos of things you really love like hiking without makeup or something.
    It basically mentally shapes you into believing that you’re better and you belong more if you are a specific way.

    So I deleted my social media accounts for good and I couldn’t be happier 🙂 it’s been about half a year and I’m loving it and I have zero urge to go back.

  • I feel like it is all situational. Think about scenario which is realistic. You have a dead end job. You don't have a car. Public transportation is a joke. So basically you are landlocked. If you want to go further let's say they never have been in a relationship. I would assume social media might be great for someone like that.

  • I've deleted all of my social media accounts permanently. Honestly, I just felt so down one day while scrolling through the endless content of Twitter and Instagram. This dark feeling that mocked me and constantly kept whispering to me about how much time I'm wasting that could be spent on working on things that would actually contribute to my growth. My growth to a mentally stable, informed, conscious, emphatic, productive human being. That and also the realization that among all those "followers" or "friends" you have, only a very small amount of people actually care about you and would stick with you in dark times. Cmon is it really THAT important to see what other people are eating, what they're doing, what they're thinking of at this very moment? Instead of looking at other people's lives and moping about yours in comparison to a carefully curated feed, why don't you look into your own life and curate your OWN success. We're so caught up in minding other people's business that our mind becomes people's business. Ever wondered why you used to be an avid reader but now can hardly get through 5 pages? Fragmented attention conditioning of our smartphones on us. That's the answer. . 3 months without Instagram and my social anxiety has quieted down considerably. Also, selfies have become absolutely senseless to me now. That's because I used to take them to post online for validation from people. Get your focus and long-term natural concentration back. Focus on yourself and your own personal growth. Use the Internet as means to learn and be well-informed. Be the master in control of your own attention.

  • It should be call

    Consumption media or
    Distraction media or
    Addiction media
    Validation and attention seeking media

    Instead of social media

  • I quit facebook & instagram. The only two apps I’m using are Pinterest and Youtube if that’s considered social media and they’re honestly the best !

  • You know there’s going to come a day where he is going to have a social media account of some form, whether he likes it or not.

  • Reading his book "Deep Work" now. It's fantastic. You don't have to 100% quit social media, you just need to have control over it and minimize it in your life! (per advise in his book)

  • Both my daughters (30 & 26) gave up social media – with no particular encouragement from me. 30 has since successfully kept to her goal of reading a book a week. 26 has become a dedicated gourmet cook and baker. I only use Youtube. I love it, but it has short circuited my attention span significantly. I find it harder to read for sustained periods of time without reaching for the iPad.

  • I only became aware of this video from a Facebook post. Despite the fact that I regularly search YouTube for Ted talks and similar content. I wouldn't know this video existed except for social media.

  • I deleted my FB app off my phone but did not deleted the account. I do not use the auto log in features. I have to pull up a browser, type in my password and be more mindful in using social media. The only social media I use is FB. I have so many photos on there that I'm afraid to lose and friends in different states I wouldn't otherwise have contact with. I understand these are basically excuses. I've read books like 'How to Break up With Your Phone' and "The Craving Mind" which explain the slot machine and addictive qualities of social media (which Youtube is a part of) but still haven't been able to bring myself to delete FB all together. Also, the amount of data they have collected on me must be ridiculous! How would one go about retreving all your data and photos before deleting a FB account?

  • I will be honest with everyone who cares to listen: Leaving social media has been absolutely the best situation for me. I have more time to be more productive, I am have an ease of mind, and it is much easier to fall asleep. The dynamics of social media – today, is so distracting and sometimes a waste of time. For the women who meet a guy without Social Media – go in with the idea that this man is completely focused on his goals or rather spend his time in the moment instead of broadcasting their moments. Leaving social media has made me so much money, improved my vitality, and I do not have to fall for thrust traps or spend my attention to someone's post.

  • Trying to hate social media like Facebook and instagram..i think social media killed my all time and made me a fake person..also it changed my thinking towards negativity..i just hate chatting,posting pictures, posting about viral topic,following people life,who cares ?i am happy its enough .i love myself that's why i don't use social media ..but i think YouTube is much better to increase knowledge but it should be used for limited time. like 30-40 munites in a day..try to love people around u .try to behave well with everyone. Spreads positivity..keep traveling. love from Bangladesh ❤

  • I quit facebook last night after seeing people laughing at videos of animal abuse, it's toxic, full of toxic negative people

  • I had social media since back when Myspace was huge. I quit them all a year ago and my entire life and world view has improved ten fold.

  • If you’re being controlled by social media then you’re weak and you should get out of it. If you’re using it to boost your ego then you’re definitely the weakest link. Social media is great in my opinion because guess what I can spread positive and valuable information. And I don’t after for any likes or dislikes whatsoever! You’re not on social media to attract attention, you should be in social media to share helpful information.

  • The only social media I ever had was my space and I found it to be annoying. For those younger Generations Myspace was the original Facebook. Since then I never had a Facebook account a Twitter account or any of these other social media accounts. I do use YouTube or research not entertainment

  • This guy is the most balanced/healthy ted talker I’ve heard. I think the amount of dislikes and negative comments is hilarious!

  • I'm doing a three week break from a forum I'm on simply because it's become fighting like babies every three days. Not by me but the same 5 or 6 people. See how I feel after it.

  • 7:30 Cal mentions: "social media brings with it multiple, well-documented significant harms" – I think people are finally coming around to acknowledging this as true

  • You know for years I always used to be in a hurry and I felt that my life was stressful. Almost every day I failed to complete some tasks that I wanted to finish because I ran out of time, usually going to bed tired at midnight or 1 am. Last year I moved to a new appartment and I had to wait for 2 weeks to get an internet connection because the operator had to install it first. Those were the best 2 weeks I had in years! I began being very concetrated at work, was never in a hurry, still socialized with friends and by 8 pm I've done all the tasks that I set for the day. Basically at 8pm I felt free as a bird and didn't even know what to do with so much free time (such a great and refreshing feeling btw).
    Nowdays I use much less social media or internet in general because that taught me a lesson. When using social media or when you watch too much stuff on the internet you end up not noticing how much time you're losing on a daily basis and don't even realise how life just runs past you. Embrace life & the time you have!

  • About 7 years ago I had Facebook, later instagram etc. I suffered depression and anxiety I sped a lot time checking my cellphone and I barely paid attention to my little son. I used to compared my self to the perfect and gorgeous ladies who posted their wonderful bodies and i felt miserable. 6 years ago I deleted all my accounts and I can honestly say I don’t need or miss them at all. When people find out they freak out and say I live in the cave age I don’t care I just know I live happier , I play with my kids and anxiety and depression are gone.

  • Today i went to my favorite pizza hut.
    I kid you not, but i was the only one not using a smart phone, because i dont have one.
    Ive seen couples sitting next to each other that spend their time each on their phone.
    People that are alone use it, to avoid akwardness.
    My god, what happens on this planet. This is insane.

  • I dont have fb, ig. However, youtube is more dangerous. I start watching a motivational video and end up at ants fighting… Is there anyway to quit youtube addiction as well?

  • i deleted Facebook today. Hope I can have it deleted until end of the year. I'll also do it on my Instagram & Snapchat.

  • It's not a social media problem, its self control. This is blaming the tool instead of yourself. Having self control is real power.

  • I have an 80 years old grandmother and one of our relative wanted her to have her own social media account and I said "no she's already happy with her life"… social media is toxic

  • I never would have seen this video if it weren't for social media. The people who most need to take a break from it are the average person who sees themselves as a news organization but are just armchair political analysts. My point is..
    What was I saying?
    I lost concentration.

  • Look, social media isn't the problem. It's a ray from heaven shining an glaring spotlight on our dysfunction and incorrect assumptions about how the world works. We thought we lived in a world with crazies before 2000, but now we know that there are far more of them than anyone but the delusional paranoids ever considered.
    Really, it is the human suggestibility that makes social media such a problem
    Well that and the unskeptical surety which seems to be the state we are all seeking and which doesn't seem to require much critical thought to attain.

  • Question if the smart minds of today built the towers knew the waves could be munipu lo ated inew cells created . Ration I'm sure knew it would cause a microwave effect

  • Then why are they continuing to make the 5 6 g . Make more towers tockets still go to the SATILITES what are on them? . And why are they continuing to further this.. WEAPONIZATION OF THE ATMOSPHER

  • 0eople Youtubers gamers are hid within the new world plan to eliminated scope out the ones they dont want. And eliminate under gaming and comedy and animation to hide the true motive TO ELIMINATE POPULATION

  • I think about this a lot differently.

    Social media is either a tool or a weapon. A screwdriver can be useful or dangerous. The only thing bad about it is how you choose to use it.

    Could it be possible it’s not the tool that needs changing but you?

    That’s a lot harder question to answer about ourselves. So instead we blame the tool.

    Work on yourself daily and then see if it’s social media or not.

  • I dumped them all and feel much better. I did have to start a Facebook business page (sunshine natural growers) but other than that, I dont really get on

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