I’ve long wanted to be social media free…less reliant and less connected to technology, wanting to spend less time staring at screens. And I’ve finally done it! I quit Twitter back in 2019. I’ve quit LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram in 2021 (although Stephanie still maintains the foundation’s Facebook page). I recently deleted my business mailing list. I deleted my Medium account. And just this week, I deleted three news apps from my iPhone, leaving only one (Wall Street Journal, which I pay for). Oh, and Disney+ too, for good measure (I don’t do cancel culture).
Hell, I even took down my personal website…..a site that I’ve maintained all this time because, well, I don’t know why…
But permanently quitting social media feels the most freeing and rebellious, a move that has cleared my head, reduced my stress, and most importantly, given me back valuable and precious time.
I used to be one of those guys who heavily promoted myself on social media, sharing insights, quotes, my latest essays, client wins, pithy anecdotes, skills, etc., etc.
Looking back, oh my goodness, how banal, how boring, and how blasé. How could you even stand it?
I used to be so worried about getting mentions, likes, comments, engagement…in fact, I would obsess over it, refreshing nonstop. How completely exhausting.
And I’m not talking about posting some incendiary political statement, and wasting time arguing with people for an hour or two. What a dreadful waste. Imagine the good you could do with all that lost time?
Yes, despite all this, I longed to be social media free, but just could never get over the mountain in my mind about making such a fundamental shift.
But then, it happened. I was reading something from Cal Newport, the author behind Deep Work, who was telling a story about the writer Michael Lewis, who had recently appeared on the Tim Ferriss podcast.
At the end of the episode, Ferriss, as usual, asked his guest if there were ways people could connect to him (websites, social media, etc.) and learn more about him and his work. His answer, which follows, blew my mind:
“I wish I could say ‘yes,’ but I don’t do social media. So the answer is ‘no’…I have no way to be found. Except through my work.”
Wow. You might read this and think nothing of it. But for some reason, it resonated and changed everything for me. It was the bitch slap I truly needed to receive.
Suddenly, I no longer obsessed about social media, or sending business email newsletters, and stopped worrying about posting needless drivel online. That quote lead to me deleting/suspending all those digital accounts listed above. I now wanted to focus only on the work.
To say nothing of the fact that most of our social media goes nowhere. To get any traction, you have to pay to play. And even then, it hardly yields the results one would want from such an investment. I quit investing in paid advertising on Facebook and Instagram long before I quit the platforms.
I am now ok to be found only through MY work. What work is that, you might ask? It’s this, our foundation. This is the work that matters to me now. This is how I want to be remembered.
This means that my audience and my reach will be smaller, much smaller, than it used to be. But the great thing is, I no longer care. I’d rather have the few people who are directly benefitted by our work be the ones who notice…
This mindset shift will force me to up my game. Big time. This is a good thing. Not because I want to achieve more social reach, but because I want to get better at my craft. And if I build a community of people who are moved by our work of serving mankind and making a difference, well, that’s a hell of a lot more important than what my “open rate” is, or how many “likes” something gets.
So, in the end, I now care more about the fifty people we might directly help as a result of our foundation, verses one thousand random, unknown, faceless people liking my posts or sharing my podcasts.
If a child learns to read as a result of our work, if a family receives a meal as a result of our work, if a caregiver gets some support as a result of our work, if a family finds joy by rescuing an animal — these are the people I want to impact now. I no longer care about getting 500 “likes” on a post.
Becoming social media free has been, well, tremendously freeing, allowing me to actually focus ON THE WORK, verses concentrating on TALKING about doing the work.
What a satisfying difference…