Leaving social media

Last year I deleted my Facebook and Instagram accounts out of sheer disgust for their parent company and how their attention-economy-based business exploits people’s instincts and behavior at a fundamental level. The remaining popular social platforms of Twitter and LinkedIn, while not quite as evil, have similar business models so I greatly reduced posting things on them.

People who know me know I couldn’t care less about socializing anyway so why is this a big deal? As an independent writer—in the niche field of space exploration no less—I can’t afford not to put myself out to potential reader groups in some substantial manner. Reducing posting therefore isn’t as easy for people like me as it may be for those using platforms to purely socialize and/or network. So instead I researched and used tools to automatically share my articles and blog posts to all such networks in a reasonable manner.

Doing so immensely improved my mental health and bandwidth as an asocial person while also affording me some presence on those networks without continued investment. Six months worth of automated social media presence gradually made me realize how manually posting on those platforms previously had been negatively affecting what I considered “good” content. I soon began to ask the question for every blog post and every word I wrote for public consumption: Am I optimizing for the attention of hundred people or the muse of relevant ten?

The hype factor in my posts and titles reduced as a result. As did the excessive use of exclamation marks, emojis and tones of words alike. While my professional space writings were never affected before, sharing of those articles in manual cases displayed attention-grabbing behavior all over. Posts on this general blog of mine were definitely a victim too. I simply didn’t write words unaltered.

Automated sharing coupled with simply not caring to post on social media manually most of the time afforded me a nearly blog-only mindset. This has not only improved my writing further, by allowing more time and focus for nuanced thoughts, but has also helped push my long-term writing strategy.

This year I’ve decided to go all in and completely stop active posting on all social media. I won’t delete my Twitter and LinkedIn accounts, just yet, but I will not actively engage myself or others over there either, letting automated tools take nearly 100% of the load. This extends to the niche social networks I do think are nice and ethical—micro.blog and Mastodon. I won’t actively post on them simply because I don’t believe in the idea of micro communications itself. As a result of these developments, I’m now wholly invested in having a direct relationship with my readers based on open technologies that have stood the test of time: Email and RSS.

I currently have about 1,300 email subscribers and an estimated 100 RSS followers across my two blogs. Any growth in them is resilient growth because I get to carry my audience at any point regardless of which blogging platform I use in the years to come. No, for decades to come. Email lists can be ported over, unlike social media followers, and RSS feed links can be redirected. At the same time, readers are free to use either option to follow what I write, switch between them, subscribe only to select categories, or simply unsubscribe.

Just as importantly, people check or process new emails and posts in their RSS readers in their own time, on their own terms. They may not read what I publish immediately but when they do open something I wrote, they’d read without a fledgling mind. Without an algorithm lurking in the background that tirelessly pushes them to keep scrolling. Without as much bias on the topic or the post’s worthiness to them based on what others said about it. This is the good stuff.

Lastly, all of this also greatly simplifies what one should do to follow me. You don’t have to follow me on Twitter, stalk me on Instagram, pseudo-connect with me on LinkedIn, subscribe to my YouTube channel, try to find my Reddit username, and then remember Medium exists as well. No. Don’t do any of that. Simply follow my blogs, or any of them, and you’re done!

This is one article I’m glad I got to write.

Credit: Gordon Johnson

Share via Email →