Saturday, January 26, 2019

For some of us, taking breaks from social media would finish our careers; here's why



On p. A11 of the weekend Wall Street Journal, Kate Bachekder Odell lectures us, “It’s not too late to quit social media.” She talks about a Georgetown University professor Cal Newport who has never had a Facebook or Twitter account but has a method to “break the habit”.
  
Yesterday, on my TV blog, I presented a video on the topic by Harvard undergraduate John Fish.
  
As I said there, the more you can accomplish in the real world first, the better, especially for young adults (and students).  That is, if it’s a legitimate accomplishment.  My own circumstances are a bit unusual.

There’s been a lot of talk about “slowing down the media” again, after the mainstream media scandal with the Covington school teens.

I interpret "quitting social media" as equivalent to quitting Internet use altogether, except maybe for phone conversations.  But a lot of my own use is with regular news sites, my own blogs, videos, some email, and business use (travel reservations, payments, etc).  I'll even note the idea that when people are wired all the time, they may tend to become satisfied with "fan" connections with mostly younger and charismatic stars they admire than socialize in the real world with the more humdrum people available to them.  This can indeed feed the polarization cycle. 
    
But it isn’t feasible for me to take a breather – and that would be a problem if I ever had a major lengthy hospitalization. I could lose all I’ve done and never recover it.  I won’t get into the details now, but the basic plan is to make the content pay its own way, which I described a strategic plan for on my DADT notes blog Oct.19.   Then it would be possible for someone else to support my stuff (or some of it, at least), and for an Executor to handle it after my passing.
  
It’s also true that if it were possible to take longer breathers, I could travel more easily.  I always travel prepared to get online (with hotspots and laptops).  That could get more difficult with TSA issues.  It could be very difficult in some parts of the world, but if this were in third party hands, it might be easier to travel to less democratic places.  But my “online reputation” could make travel in Russia, China, etc. risky.
  
  
We’ve heard a lot in recent months about the downside (for common well being and democracy) of news moving too fast – and getting driven into echo chambers, and the tendency now, in the current political climate, for some user-generated content to reinforce tribal loyalty, which was certainly not the intention of most speakers when the Internet opened up more than 20 years ago.  We’ve covered the recent problems of patronage channels (and the influence of payment processors, skittish of association particularly now with right wing extremism). 
  
I’ve also noted before (especially on a posting here April 6, 2018) about the issues associated with free content.  In private conversations, I’ve noted the concern that platforms could start to examine the audience analytics of low-volume sites for misuse by visitors, and did some detailed discussion here in October.   Following through on this from a personal perspective can lead down a rabbit hole, and I can’t give a complete “logical analysis” right now.  I don’t have an easy answer other than to try to make it more self-supporting.  I don’t fit into other people’s social worlds very well, and won’t wear their uniforms and speak for them or let them speak for me.  I think there is a difference between being expected to being open to service (see issues blog, Jan. 23) and being expected to promote it (or its beneficiaries) publicly.  I can’t get much more into this today.

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