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)

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

  • Good words about social media is trying to make us addicted by the non-stopping feeding and paraciting the unwanted info among my life. Thinking about quitting it.

  • Before I made a facebook account I began a new skill and set two world records with it. I still don't use FB for more than instant messaging, but even that is pushing the safe border IMO.

  • One of the most dangerous things in social media I find is, when many people like or support what you post or say, and you feel good, you feel you are doing the right thing. But sometimes it isn't the case.

  • Today I joined my Facebook account up but I think I'm going to delete it. I also think Instagram encourage anxiety depression narcissism and materialism. Sadly mostly of young people believe it's real and want to ressemble these influencers.
    Technology made the access at all but it formatted ours brains.
    Sorry for mistakes and I'm trying learn English two months ago.

  • I'm not saying you have to use social media but it ain't going nowhere. It's just gona get more and more advance along with society and technology like it or not. Not long before it becomes a true necessity of modern life…personally I think people in our society who chose to avoid it will only become left behind therefore making it harder for their offspring..but hey.. just my opinion

  • I think this is a great discussion. It is entertainment. I do also receive business through my channels, but most of it is channeled back to my site. Over the years, even though I was a power user on Twitter, I've actually reduced my time on social media. It's freed my time up for focusing on myself and family.

    I will say though, because of Facebook, I was able to track down and put together a large discussion group for my high school class reunion, and recently, successfully organized our 20th reunion. So, in a few cases, it helps. (Note: School won't give out information about former classmates, because of privacy issues, which makes sense. And even if they did, not everyone lives at the same place that they had lived, over 20 years ago.)

    So, while I don't necessarily agree about quitting social media, I do at least think reducing that time to enjoy things like hobbies, time with friends, family, and life experiences, is a smarter idea.

  • I also do not have any social media, except for this. But I don't have twitter, facebook, insta, etc. No online dating either. I don't consider youtube social media to be honest. I have very few conversations on here and I don't have a lot of content on my page. So…it's different. I used to be a facebook addict. I'm much better off without it.

  • Social media is laziness and showing off, prove me wrong… (exclude video calls and messengers they are good if you live in a different country) you can send specific pictures to loved ones. You can meet people but it’s rare it becomes something.

  • Been off Facebook for a day and feel like it's been years. I'm starting to understand myself and definitely feel peaceful.

  • But what if your business is online because I don't have the money to have any actual startup business physically?

  • You must know how to have balance on and off social media.
    Don't just criticise someone's creation.
    If you have got balance in your mind then you do not need to bother about others.
    All that's been mentioned seems quite good but do keep using that makes you joyful.😊😊

  • Social media these days ain’t enriching life, it’s ruins people’s life.cyber bullying , toxic ranting and spreading untrue rumors that literally ruins people’s reputations. Never sign up for snap chat, Instagram and I quit Facebook for good today.

  • How about writers and publishers? How to get publicity for articles and news without social media?
    Are there any other alternatives to social media?
    Genuine questions, please help.

  • You're right. Before I started using social media, my day consisted of reading, spending time in nature, imagining beautiful things, etc.
    But due to work, I had to join FB and due to peer pressure I had to join Twitter and Instagram.

  • I don’t like people. So having social media doesn’t phase me. But the true question is: What will sustain longer? Humanity or Social Media? Hmmmm🤔🤔🤔

  • Social media does not ruin everybody’s life. One must learn not only how to use it, but how to extract what you want out of it.

  • mky only argument is that some people need it for their career, like youtubers, streamers, Cosplayers, Basically content creators.

  • I agree with everything he has said. Social media did make me feel depressed, isolated, etc and what not. Always checking up on people's post and stories. Countless hours wasted instead of doing something productive. I would have been at a different point in my career today if I had never signed up for instagram or facebook over 7 years ago.

  • i agree with this presentation. but i disagree with how easy it is to replace social media. the presenter is educated, professional and multifaceted. to a 16 year old with a smart photo and little else a serious skill and knowledge building period is required. as once said " in order to break bad habits one has to create good habits. "

  • I'm 15 and I've been off social media for over a year now, I just couldn't stand how socially awkward people had become in person. That was one of the best decisions I've made in my life. I'm so much less anxious and I've found an incredible stability in my life. I have so much more free time to take up hobbies I love like reading and exercising. I'm just so much happier. To anyone who thinks quitting social media won't have an affect on your life I just ask you to quit for at least one month and see what happens to your life.

  • I quit Facebook at 14 years old back in 2011 after just idk feeling like “meh” ! Then I just stopped Instagram and logged out completely on Instagram it’s been a month since I’ve used twitter and Instagram! I have been super super happy, I’ve been eating healthy, exercising and being closer to god to, I’ve been reading buying books, super determined and about to start my schooling 👩🏾‍🎓📓!
    I had a former co-worker only texts me because she saw I haven’t been on social media and I remember laughing and telling my mother that “people believe since you don’t use social media, they believe you have no life” 😂😂😂😂😂…
    I digress 💁🏾‍♀️

  • To me social media is a waste of time, I'd rather talk to my friends personally and get physical interaction (see, smell, hear) rather than message them on social media. I do have facebook though just so I can shop stuff for cheap.

  • i opened my Instagram 8 times while watching this video…9th time i noticed it and posted a story about hey…i am taking a break for social media and deleted the app right after that.I will wait for a month and see how I fell like…once I get used to it…I would permanently delete my account

  • I closed Insta in 2018
    I closed facebook in 2018
    It has been a wonderful decision. I feel more focused, more productive, and I'm more in control of my time.

    One thing that is strange, is how the older generation( 60s+) is highly addicted to Fb!

    I told my father, time to close Fb dad you're glued to it- his response—- oh no I use it to keep in touch with relatives (clicks 20 'likes' as were talking)

    So there's this group of retired older adults addicted to social media😔. Let's help them too.

  • I’ve never joined social media either & I’ve never felt like I’m missing out. All of my social relationships are with people who I know in the “real” world & I like it that way. Also, I like to spend my free time watching movies, reading paper books, puzzles, & cooking. Also, being a mom takes up most of my free time. Lol

  • I think this may help-
    I quit and uninstall every social media from my phone. Took a week off without using phone much except when necessary, doing some meditation,yoga decided how I am going to use social media from next week onwards. Now I use WhatsApp, YouTube, Google etc when necessary only for 1 hour a day sometimes even less. Read book, write a diary, get a hobby. You can't quit social media in 21st century and it's not a curse, what matters is how you use it. Use social media don't let it use you.

  • I start seriously to think about leaving my Social Media Accounts … you have a right in every single thing you said!… this is the Third time watching your Video.

    Thank you so much even if I know that you will not read my Comment 🙂

  • I stopped watching tv and quited FB. I kept YouTube just for educational purposes. For instance I learned to speak portuguese using YouTube. Without social media I can sleep better, have a better relationship with my family, get more rest, I read a lot more and I avoid the drama 👏🏻😎

  • I like what he's saying but unfortunately in the 21st century social media is a HUGE marketing tactic/strategy and many people have become quite prosperous because of it.

  • 4:16 Precious opportunity missed here to mention behaviorist Skinner's experiment with 'variable ratio schedule', resulting in addictive behavior of pigeons as well as of slot machine users in Las Vegas. And of smartphone addicts today.

  • Before quitting social media, I used to study 30 minutes. Now I can study 4-5 hours. Quitting social media really gives you productivity.

  • I don’t like who I’ve become. I’m young and can easily change tho. My new year/new decade resolution is to quit social media except for extreme scenarios.

  • I quit my personal instagram and facebook, but i still have my business @juanitasflowers15 because I have competition:0. I dont like to upload beautiful pictures everyday tho.😃 ⚘🌼🌻❤🌷

  • Can't agree more with him, the book "so good that they can't ignore you" go deeper into many of these topics, totally worth reading.

    On the other side I think that uninstalling the apps is a good start but it won't work unless you commit to change, after all it's quite easy install them again.

    By the way I did a simmilar research and I just posted it to my channel, in case someone wants a different point of view!

  • honestly, i don't give up on facebook totally, i just limit my time on it, instead of daily, i only check in, only once a week, and now, i also want to limit myself to whatsapp, which, like you said just now, is a source of addiction.. 😅 😅

  • 12:56 bottom right corner there is a woman literally scrolling on her phone as he talks.. REALLY !?!

    But maybe she was deleting all her accounts 😂

  • We use social media like facebook to share and send files (powerpoints, documents) for our topics in school. It depends on how you are using it.

  • I don't use social media like Instagram or Facebook, Snapchat, only have WhatsApp to communicate with someone, don't even have a picture of me in the internet. But I'm using much Youtube, got a nice Steam Profile, what I think is social media too and playing other games, what feels like a 2nd job 😀 Idk what's wrong with me

  • Can’t agree with him, especially if you are a content maker, artist, photographer or designer, it is extremely important to show people fruits of your labor, also it is one of the opportunities to get a job!

  • iv quit everything in life, smoking drinking, etc, social media continues to be one of the most difficult things to quit and I dont know if I ca.

  • At one time, brands who wanted personal data consisted of: location, salary, unemployed, mortgages, transport vehicles and insurance that's about it. It did not need online. A person could be associated to a big brand and do the market survey with ballpark figures. That's all I want to say and I'll get my answer off the air.

  • I hear he talks a lot about quitting social media so you can spend time on working and making money. But that’s just replacing one poison with another. There’s more to life than making money.

  • He makes no sense. If you're going to preach one extreme, then you better well have been to the other side once before. Cal talks about the 0 experience he has with social media, yet he's able to supposedly make accurate insights? Ridiculous.

  • Deleted Facebook, Twitter and Instagram over a year ago.

    Don’t miss it and haven’t looked back.

    It’s extremely toxic.

  • WhatsApp too. It makes u feel depressed when no one there's to text u. And can't uninstall it too bcoz i may get important notifications from groups. I quited insta,FB, Twitter and all social media platforms. Not addicted to it now. Don't knw what to do wid whatsapp.

  • showing people that we have a perfect life in pictures posted in facebook or instagram seems to me something not real ..

  • Nvr signed up for Facebk, Twittr, Instagr- cld see the danger. Turned in cable bx. YouTube seems okay if good info sources found & view time limited. Love books, hobbies, & friends. Best wishes to you on life's journey. Enjoy.

  • I quit all social media platforms years back except YouTube. YouTube has been productive for me cause I’ve learnt only positive things through it.

  • This is one of the best No Facebook talks. I finally got rid of mine permanently. I just know I've turned the corner finally. I feel so relieved, not that uncomfortable because I also know I want less and yet more purposeful interpersonal interaction.