If you ask me if I want to go to a nightclub, the answer will be an emphatic “hell no.”
In fact, I can’t really think of a place that is ostensibly for fun and enjoyment fun that I would rather go less.
However, there’s a good percentage of people who emphatically want to go to night clubs. People who look forward to going to night clubs. People who quit their normal, high-paying desk jobs in order to work in night clubs because they like them so much.
I think there’s an analogy here to social media.
It’s no secret that I kind of hate social media.
That I’m totally onboard with Tristan Harris’s Center for Humane Technology attempting to restructure how we think about the parasitic devices that are always in our pockets leeching our data and – more importantly – our attention.
That I think the supra-normal stimulus of notifications, newsfeeds, and algorithmically predatory headlines are equivalent to the junk food clogging our supermarket aisles and the discarded plastic floating in our oceans.
That the metricized social hierarchy on Instagram creeps me out – and makes me insecure in my own social signaling skill set.
Still, I think that a certain type of personality gets a lot of fulfillment and value from social media.
Some people enjoy the stimulation of social media and find the “buzziness” of it to be enjoyable and exciting. Other people are more sensitive to stimulus and find things that are optimized to create excitement (like bars, casinos and television programs) overwhelming and unpleasant.
Some people enjoy being aware of the networks of relationships around them and find joy in keeping up with friends and acquaintances. Others find discussions about other people to be boring, “gossipy” and irrelevant.
Some people have careers where they need need to be plugged into a constant stream of communication, and they do their best work when engaging in rapidfire iteration of ideas and mental models while plugged into the idea stream of social media. Others need huge blocks of uninterrupted time to chip away at hard problems.
Most people are probably a blend of each of these traits – and they may switch what “mode” they prefer based upon what they’re working on.
In my case, my disposition, my work and my preferred working style make social media a really unpleasant place for me.
But, just because I never, ever want to go to a night club, that doesn’t mean that I think that no one should ever go to night clubs.
Still, I’d be pretty annoyed if there was a night club in the next room over all the time, and – every 15 minutes – a bunch of club bros popped out and started dancing while I was trying to get some goddamn work done.
So that’s why I hate social media, and why I try to leave my phone as far away from me as possible.