A few resources to deal with social media addiction & information overwhelm

Jun 06, 2019 | Posted by Cristina in Articles

The resources below were first sent to our email subscribers, as part of our weekly newsletter. If you want more, join here.

1. GQ: “Cal Newport on Why We’ll Look Back at Our Smartphones Like Cigarettes” (2019)

Cal Newport is a computer science professor who writes about the intersection of society and technology – particularly how new tech affects our ability to do deep thinking and quality work. Cal’s first three books provided advice for students, while his next three books approached topics on the skill of studying and productivity.

In “So Good They Can’t Ignore You”, Cal talks about why the advice “Follow your passion” is a bad one if your goal is to end up loving what you do for a living. Passion is something you cultivate through hard work, and not the starting point.

In “Deep Work“ (one of my favorite books), he shows us how the modern work environment destroyed our ability to focus and do deep, quality work. The ability to shut out all distractions became more and more rare and, at the same time, valuable.

Cal Newport recently launched his new book, “Digital Minimalism” (came out in February), where he talks about how to be more selective about what technologies we adopt in our personal lives, how to radically reduce the time we spend staring at screens, focus on the activities that support what we do and value, and happily ignore the rest.

This interview from GQ was released as part of his promotional tour for his new book. Here are some great excerpts from it:

If you want to maximize the amount of value you feel in your life, the mathematics are clear: You want to put as much of your time and effort as possible into the small number of things to give you these huge rewards. When you think about it that way, fear of missing out looks like, just mathematically speaking, a really bad strategy.

Most people value their social life, and connection, and community. When people take their energy, and, in a really focused manner, say, “Here’s how I’m going to connect with my family, my close friends, and have good standing in my community through these high-energy, real world, analog type interactions and commitments”—people who do that frequently feel a much stronger value and sense of social connection than someone who is dissipating that energy to try to maintain one of these very large, weakly-connected, arbitrary social media friend contact groups [with] lots of comments, and Happy Birthday!’s, and likes.

I don’t fear missing out. I fear not giving enough attention to the things that I already know for sure are important.


2. Taylor Pearson: “The Joys of Missing Out – JOMO” (2014)

Taylor Pearson is an entrepreneur and author, who writes about the future of jobs, decision making and thinking models, business strategies, blockchain technology and more.

This was the first article where I read about JOMO – as opposed to FOMO (fear of missing out).


3. Paul Jarvis: “Anti-Social Media” (2018)

Paul Jarvis is a Canadian designer, course creator and author. He wrote what I consider to be the best books read in the past year: Company of One, where he talks about the mindset of staying small when it makes sense to stay small, and not grow your company only for the sake of growing. It’s about building your business (or career) around your life and well-being, learning a more creative and smarter way to solve problems, redefine work and adapt to changes.

Jarvis keeps in touch with his community via a newsletter. Here’s an excerpt from what he wrote last year about why he’s anti-social media:

Myself and most other people want to fill spaces. It’s like we’re so afraid of being bored or being alone — we have to fill even the smallest gaps with updates from our screens. Being in line, waiting for an entree at a restaurant, sitting on the bus, noticing a lull in a conversation while sitting across from a real human being, etc — it’s like we’ve become deathly allergic to being alone with our thoughts. But then, when I’m not online or on a long break, I miss it. I miss the people who I’ve connected with and talk to on a regular basis on social.


4. Ryan Holiday: “If You Can’t Say No, You’re A Slave” (2018)

Ryan Holiday is a media strategist, entrepreneur (he has a creative advisory firm), author, and one of the positive influences in my life.

Thanks to him, I started reading books a few years ago, and The CEO Library was born thanks to this newly formed habit. Yes, I wasn’t reading at all before – I already talked about this in my article about how I went from 0 to reading 50 books per year, and how you can also build a similar lifetime habit.

Ryan has written extensively on the topic of marketing, culture, media manipulation, stoicism and human condition.

He’s the author of Trust Me, I’m Lying (2012), Growth Hacker Marketing, The Obstacle is the Way, Ego is the Enemy, The Daily Stoic, Perennial Seller, and Conspiracy (2018).

Ryan Holiday’s trilogy of stoic books will be completed by “Stillness Is the Key“, his new book, that will be released this autumn (October 2019). You can find here a longer list of the best books on stoicism.

By the way, if you’re also based in Romania, this autumn he’ll be coming here for the first time, to speak at GPeC (November 4-5), the e-commerce conference. Thanks Raluca and Andrei for inviting him!

Here’s an excerpt from Ryan’s article about freedom:

“Freedom is the most important thing. We’re born with it, and yet many of us wake up one day surprised at the chains we wear. The reason? Because we said yes too many times and never learned how to say no.

Only a free person can decline. Preserving this power is essential.”


5. DHH: “Growing apart and losing touch is human and healthy” (2018)

David Heinemeier Hansson (DHH) is the creator of Ruby on Rails framework, CTO and co-founder of project management software Basecamp, a Le Mans class-winning racing driver, and the author of several bestselling books he co-wrote with his business partner, Jason Fried: ‘Getting Real’ ‘Rework’, ‘Remote’, and their latest release, ‘It Doesn’t Have to be Crazy at Work’ (one of the best books I read last year).

Fried and DHH talk about what they call “the calm company”: a different company culture that questions all the “best practices”, such as long hours of work, sleepless nights, shared work calendars, hyper connection, being always available on instant messaging apps. They strongly believe that longer hours are not the answer, as it’s impossible to outwork everyone in the world.

In their new book, they show us what they did in order to build a successful business without all the chaos, anxiety, and stress that became the norm in today’s modern work environment.

On the Basecamp blog, Fried and DHH openly talk about these topics. Here’s an excerpt from an article where DHH explains why he quit Facebook back in 2011:

What allowed me to change and prosper was the freedom to grow apart and lose touch with people. It’s hard to change yourself if you’re stuck in the same social orbit. There’s a gravitational force that pulls you into repeating the same circular pattern over and over again. Breaking out of that takes tremendous force.

The resources above were first sent to our email subscribers, as part of our weekly newsletter. If you want more, join here.

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