Quit social media | Dr. Cal Newport | TEDxTysons

Quit social media | Dr. Cal Newport | TEDxTysons

Translator: Peter van de Ven
Reviewer: Denise RQ You probably don’t realize that right now, you’re actually
looking at something quite rare. Because I am a millennial
computer scientist book author standing on a TEDx stage, and yet, I’ve never had
a social media account. How this happened
was actually somewhat random. Social media first came onto my radar
when I was at college, my sophomore year of college, this is when Facebook
arrived at our campus. And at the time, which was
right after the first dotcom bust, I had had a dorm room business,
I’d had to shut it down in the bust, and then, suddenly, this other kid
from Harvard, named Mark, had this product called Facebook
and people being excited about it. So in sort of a fit of somewhat
immature professional jealousy, I said, “I’m not going to use this thing. I won’t help this kid’s business;
whatever’s going to amount to.” As I go along my life,
I look up not long later, and I see everyone I know
is hooked on this thing. And from the clarity you can get when you have some objectivity,
some perspective on it, I realized this seems
a little bit dangerous. So I never signed up. I’ve never had
a social media account since. So I’m here for two reasons;
I want to deliver two messages. The first message I want to deliver is that even though I’ve never had
a social media account, I’m OK, you don’t have to worry. It turns out I still have friends, I still know what’s going on in the world; as a computer scientist I still collaborate with people
all around the world, I’m still regularly exposed
serendipitously to interesting ideas, and I rarely describe myself
as lacking entertainment options. So I’ve been OK,
but I’d go even farther and say not only I am OK without social media
but I think I’m actually better off. I think I’m happier, I think I find
more sustainability in my life, and I think I’ve been
more successful professionally because I don’t use social media. So my second goal here on stage is try to convince more of you
to believe the same thing. Let’s see if I could actually
convince more of you that you too would be better off
if you quit social media. So, if the theme of this TEDx event
is “Future Tense,” I guess, in other words,
this would be my vision of the future, would be one in which fewer people
actually use social media. That’s a big claim,
I think I need to back it up. So I thought, what I would do is take the three most
common objections I hear when I suggest to people
that they quit social media, and then for each of these objections,
I’ll try to defuse the hype and see if I can actually
push in some more reality. This is the first
most common objection I hear. That’s not a hermit, that’s actually a hipster web developer
down from 8th Street; I’m not sure. Hipster or hermit?
Sometimes it’s hard to tell. This first objection goes as follows, “Cal, social media is one
of the fundamental technologies of the 21st century. To reject social media would be
an act of extreme [bloodism]. It would be like riding to work
on a horse or using a rotary phone. I can’t take
such a big stance in my life.” My reaction to that objection
is I think that is nonsense. Social media is not
a fundamental technology. It leverages
some fundamental technologies, but it’s better understood as this. Which is to say,
it’s a source of entertainment, it’s an entertainment product. The way that technologist
Jaron Lanier puts it is that these companies
offer you shiny treats in exchange for minutes of your attention
and bites of your personal data, which can then be packaged up and sold. So to say that you don’t use social media
should not be a large social stance, it’s just rejecting one form
of entertainment for others. There should be no more
controversial than saying, “I don’t like newspapers,
I like to get my news from magazines,” or “I prefer to watch cable series,
as opposed to network television series.” It’s not a major political
or social stance to say you don’t use this product. My use of the slot machine image
up here also is not accidental because if you look a little bit closer
at these technologies, it’s not just that they’re
a source of entertainment but they’re a somewhat
unsavory source of entertainment. We now know that many
of the major social media companies hire individuals
called attention engineers, who borrow principles
from Las Vegas casino gambling, among other places, to try to make these products
as addictive as possible. That is the desired
use case of these products: is that you use it in an addictive fashion
because that maximizes the profit that can be extracted
from your attention and data. So it’s not a fundamental technology, it’s just a source of entertainment,
one among many, and it’s somewhat unsavory
if you look a little bit closer. Here’s the second common objection I hear when I suggest that people
quit social media. The objection goes as follows, “Cal, I can’t quit social media because it is vital to my success
in the 21st century economy. If I do not have a well-cultivated
social media brand, people won’t know who I am,
people won’t be able to find me, opportunities won’t come my way, and I will effectively
disappear from the economy.” Again my reaction is once again: this objection also is nonsense. I recently published this book that draws on multiple
different strands of evidence to make the point that,
in a competitive 21st century economy, what the market values is the ability to produce things
that are rare and are valuable. If you produce something
that’s rare and valuable, the market will value that. What the market dismisses,
for the most part, are activities that are easy to replicate
and produce a small amount of value. Well, social media use is the epitome of an easy to replicate activity
that doesn’t produce a lot of value; it’s something that any six-year-old
with a smartphone can do. By definition, the market is not going to give
a lot of value to those behaviors. It’s instead going to reward
the deep, concentrated work required to build real skills and to apply
those skills to produce things – like a craftsman – that are rare and that are valuable. To put it another way:
if you can write an elegant algorithm, if you can write a legal brief
that can change a case, if you can write a thousand words of prose that’s going to fixate
a reader right to the end; if you can look at a sea of ambiguous data and apply statistics,
and pull out insights that could transform a business strategy, if you can do these type of activities
which require deep work, that produce outcomes
that are rare and valuable, people will find you. You will be able to write your own ticket, and build the foundation of a meaningful
and successful professional life, regardless of how many
Instagram followers you have. This is the third comment objection I hear when I suggest to people
that they quit social media; in some sense, I think it might be
one of the most important. This objection goes as follows, “Cal, maybe I agree, maybe you’re right;
it’s not a fundamental technology. Maybe using social media is not
at the core of my professional success. But, you know what? It’s harmless, I have some fun on it
– weird: Twitter’s funny – I don’t even use it that much,
I’m a first adopter, it’s kind of interesting to try it out, and maybe I might miss out
something if I don’t use it. What’s the harm?” Again, I look back and I say:
this objection also is nonsense. In this case, what it misses is
what I think is a very important reality that we need to talk about more frankly, which is that social media brings with it multiple, well-documented,
and significant harms. We actually have to confront
these harms head-on when trying to make decisions about whether or not
we embrace this technology and let it into our lives. One of these harms
that we know this technology brings has to do with your professional success. I just argued before
that the ability to focus intensely, to produce things
that are rare and valuable, to hone skills the market place value on, that this is
what will matter in our economy. But right before that, I argued that social media tools
are designed to be addictive. The actual designed
desired-use case of these tools is that you fragment your attention
as much as possible throughout your waking hours; that’s how these tools
are designed to use. We have a growing amount
of research which tells us that if you spend
large portions of your day in a state of fragmented attention – large portions of your day,
breaking up your attention, to take a quick glance, to just check,
– “Let me quickly look at Instagram” – that this can permanently reduce
your capacity for concentration. In other words, you could
permanently reduce your capacity to do exactly the type of deep effort that we’re finding to be
more and more necessary in an increasingly competitive economy. So social media use is not harmless, it can actually have
a significant negative impact on your ability to thrive in the economy. I’m especially worried about this
when we look at the younger generation, which is the most saturated
in this technology. If you lose your ability
to sustain concentration, you’re going to become less and less
relevant to this economy. There’s also psychological harms
that are well documented that social media brings,
that we do need to address. We know from the research literature
that the more you use social media, the more likely you are
to feel lonely or isolated. We know that the constant exposure to your friends carefully curated,
positive portrayals of their life can leave you to feel inadequate,
and can increase rates of depression. And something I think we’re going to be
hearing more about in the near future is that there’s a fundamental mismatch between the way our brains are wired and this behavior
of exposing yourself to stimuli with intermittent rewards
throughout all of your waking hours. It’s one thing to spend a couple of hours
at a slot machine in Las Vegas, but if you bring one with you,
and you pull that handle all day long, from when you wake up to when you go
to bed: we’re not wired from it. It short-circuits the brain, and we’re starting to find
it has actual cognitive consequences, one of them being this sort of
pervasive background hum of anxiety. The canary in the coal mine for this issue
is actually college campuses. If you talk to mental health experts
on college campuses, they’ll tell you that along with the rise
of ubiquitous smartphone use and social media use
among the students on the campus, came an explosion of anxiety-related
disorders on those campuses. That’s the canary in the coal mine. This type of behavior
is a mismatch for our brain wiring and can make you feel miserable. So there’s real cost to social media use; which means when you’re trying to decide,
“Should I use this or not?”, saying it’s harmless is not enough. You actually have to identify
a significantly positive, clear benefit that can outweigh these potential,
completely non-trivial harms. People often ask, “OK, but what is life like
without social media?” That can actually be
a little bit scary to think about. According to people
who went through this process, there can be a few difficult weeks. It actually is like a true detox process. The first two weeks can be uncomfortable: you feel a little bit anxious,
you feel like you’re missing a limb. But after that, things settle down, and actually, life after social media
can be quite positive. There’s two things I can report back
from the world of no social media use. First, it can be quite productive. I’m a professor at a research institution,
I’ve written five books, I rarely work past 5 pm on a weekday. Part of the way I’m trying
to able to pull that off is because it turns out,
if you treat your attention with respect, – so you don’t fragment it;
you allow it to stay whole, you preserve your concentration – when it comes time to work you can do one thing after another,
and do it with intensity, and intensity can be traded for time. It’s surprising how much
you can get done in a eight-hour day if you’re able to give each thing
intense concentration after another. Something else I can report back
from life without social media is that outside of work,
things can be quite peaceful. I often joke I’d be very comfortable
being a 1930s farmer, because if you look at my leisure time, I read the newspaper
while the sun comes up; I listen to baseball on the radio; I honest-to-god sit in a leather chair and read hardcover books at night
after my kids go to bed. It sounds old-fashioned,
but they were onto something back then. It’s actually a restorative, peaceful way
to actually spend your time out of work. You don’t have
the constant hum of stimuli, and the background hum of anxiety
that comes along with that. So life without social media
is really not so bad. If you pull together these threads,
you see my full argument that not everyone, but certainly
much more people than right now, much more people
should not be using social media. That’s because we can first, to summarize, discard with the main concerns that it’s a fundamental
technology you have to use. Nonsense: it’s a slot machine
in your phone. We can discard with this notion
that you won’t get a job without it. Nonsense: anything a six-year-old
with a smartphone can do is not going to be
what the market rewards. And then I emphasized the point
that there’s real harms with it. So it’s not just harmless. You really would have to have
a significant benefit before you would say
this trade-off is worth it. Finally I noted,
that life without social media: there’s real positives associated with it. So I’m hoping that when many of you
actually go through this same calculus, you’ll at least consider
the perspective I’m making right now, which is: many more people
would be much better off if they didn’t use this technology. Some of you might disagree, some of you might have scathing
but accurate critiques of me and my points, and of course, I welcome
all negative feedback. I just ask that you direct
your comments towards Twitter. Thank you. (Applause)


  1. I know that would be the consonant for all here . But my entertainments limited ☝️ but I think your name is doctor paulmaul??? checked your bio personally. Your mistaken

  2. I m a software engineer but i never sign up the facebook neither instagram nor snapchat n still i m surviving…..


  4. Thank you so much Allah bless all thank you Allah and today and tomorrow Allah bless all day long and all of you Allah and today I am looking forward for the first one another and the other side of things that are doing good way to one another and all of you Allah

  5. I love life without social media, it was hard for me to leave it but my days feel longer and peaceful. I’m also never constantly being exposed to unnecessary information or facts about people’s lives.

    I’m never going back to social media.

  6. Technology – like any other invention – has pros and cons. The way of using of it is the only determinant if it is useful or useless.
    BTW, a very professional convincing presentation. Txs for your participation.

  7. I HATE Facebook, and have from the very first day it began. In my view, everything about it is fake and counter productive. Instead of making us closer, it only provides the ILLUSION of closeness. This sense of "connectedness" is the biggest lie of the Internet, because in most cases, you don't even know who your talking to, nor to you really care. Same with Twitter. I am proud to say that I have NEVER Twittered anyone, and in fact, I shudder to know how much our own president uses this electronic kiddie toy instead of truly understanding the value of diplomacy, and I can assure you, typing pathological threats and nonsense on a keyboard IS NOT diplomacy.
    You Tube began auspiciously, without a single online advertisement, and a general lack of governmental intervention. But that's all changed now. Just like Facebook, Google, and Amazon, it has given into the lies and deceptions of the network television behemoths, with both government spying and their minions of control and censorship, turning the last bastion of free speech into just another platform for NSA meddling and CIA mass media domination. Welcome to the USSA. Welcome to 1984.

  8. Facebook is the ultimate tool for brainwashing the masses…They have been to court for selling your information, and also conducting brain manipulation experiments by playing peoples emotions. FACTS….They know exactly where you are, have a psychological profile on you, and facial recognition. They know your family….Everything..People have been hacked, murdered, stalked, blackmailed, and convicted of crimes in FB…I'll remain unplugged…I choose NOT to be a subject…

  9. Children that use social media all the time cant even sit still to watch regular television their so use to intermittent attention

  10. I deleted all my social media, and disabled any I couldn't get into! It's toxic and damaging!

  11. I agree with everything in this video but how in the world can a sell T-shirt’s from my little start up brand if I don’t have social media?

  12. I need to quit Facebook and Instagram, I literally cannot go an hour without checking them, I go on those apps for absolutely no reason and spend hours there and I've noticed how I've developed this habit reading and responding to people's comments and this often affects my mood, yea I'm quitting.

  13. It's interesting how he left out Youtube in the list of icons. Aand the irony is not lost in me, about watching a Ted talk on quitting social media in a social media platform. But that being said, the book was a real eye-opener for me. Deep work is what I'm missing in my life right now.

  14. The world is changing and people think change is bad, they like comfort and order this is a normal response its human psychology. Things that look bad to someone scared of change doesn't mean that its 100% true, this is a very tough topic to find the line between what is true and what is false.

    When you have kids and are 50 years old the technology coming out will provoke a fear response as well because of uncertainty, however its great that people are having discussions about this.

  15. I quit social media over 5 years ago, I didn't have the ego or narcissism to keep it. I just make a phone call to stay in touch with people.

  16. I will quit Facebook and instagram from today on 14/07/2019…because i thing you will gain nothing from the likes and comments,pretty fake way of socializing.

  17. I salute you, sir! Good to know there are still people who has sense these days. Noticed this is a two year old video, i hope you still hold the same view about social media. You're my hero.

  18. The human mind was never designed to keep in touch with, care for, or communicate with hundreds (or even thousands) of people on a personal level, especially on a daily basis. It brings anxiety, jealousy, loneliness, inadequacy, loss of concentration within your own life, etc. My happiest friends have zero social media, and are incredibly successful. Life is so peaceful and meaningful without social media. And tons more productive.

  19. Face is Fading away for me its just people & & Fake friends & family members being nosy and asking for favors I got on social when i got a divorce & went through a hard break up to use as a Diary & a therapy Dream Building also to have a social circle But after a long while things go another direction Although i am hooked on YouTube but i only watch mostly Motivational & Educational Videos & Music because i love music & Motivating last but not least getting empowered

  20. Social media = constant seeking of attention and validation from complete strangers, we are happy if we get lots of positive comments, we become depressed if these strangers ignored us, really are we this pathetic?!

  21. His second point is wrong it's not that social media use is your value as opposed to the things you build that are rare and valuable through deep work. Social media is simply a tool to raise awareness of the deep work you are doing. If you are an artist using social media to promote your artwork puts more eyes on your art quickly. This doesn't mean you don't unplug from social media to do your work without being distracted as an artist.

  22. Very good speaker about sm. I quit FB roughly two years ago and I don’t regret that decision—it’s a distraction. I used it to remain in contact with my family; however, I didn’t find it much appealing for me to have. Pick up a good book and learn something that way or listen to researchers who present reputable information. If someone wants to make friends they can do that in person. Same goes for having family in my life. They can contact me via phone or I can see them in person.

  23. Socail Media can be used to be socail with deep conversation and feel satisfied socailly. Unfortunately, most people dont use it that way.

  24. SNS success is analogous to the rich owner exploiting employees.
    Fanatic followers inflames the tweet and the celebrity benefits.

  25. Dara English he real name HANG DARA need help support them feedback on HANG DARA Own Pages website on them way!

  26. I guess if you have a lack of willpower, quitting social media is a good choice. You can always go on a fast or something when you realize you’re becoming too distracted. Remove it from your devices and just devote yourself to other things. Social media is not the enemy, the addictive nature of sinful human beings is the problem. We should quit blaming inanimate things for our own heart problems.

  27. Such an ableist attitude toward technology. I find that I'm more connected to long-distance relationships with friends and family, as well as connect with friends and family we are unable to physically meet up with because of disabilities. I concentrate more while I'm on the media than when I'm not on it. I need the stimuli to aid concentration where I need it to be which is not on destructive path and am able to choose that path myself rather than allow others influences to affect me negatively. I am also an introvert so I don't need actual real life interaction to drain my social batteries as an extrovert would be driven to search out. Before social media, I wasn't able to connect and now I am able to better than before, just because it doesn't work for you doesn't mean that it doesn't work for someone else. Of course, I also turn off the sound and vibration of any notifications attached to my social media, so I still have some detachment since I found this was overstimulating me and pulling attention where I didn't want it.

  28. Recently I've felt quite put off from instagram, which for the past few years has been a HUGE sinkhole of my time. All these hours, posting then deleting, reposting… for what? My plan is to not post anything for a month and then see how it goes. The only thing I'm hesitant about is that I have a few online friends that I would lose if I no longer had instagram. We're friends enough to talk often but not enough to ask for cell phone numbers, which might not seem like a real friendship but some of them are people I've known for years. I think I will just keep it to talk to them. Ideally, I want to replace all of my instagram time with using Duolingo instead, so I'm actually learning something.

  29. Okay, time for people to mind their own business. Limiting social media use would be a wise step but it has its uses for marketing, education and general interaction. Focus on your own end and others will do the same.

  30. I actually decided to get rid of all my platforms sometime last year. I nearly went a WHOLE YEAR without it, but unfortunately I was drawn back to IG just recently. During that long absence of not having it, I felt SO much more happier, relaxed, light and at peace. I just felt free and had loads more time on my hands! That negativity that most of you probably face, had simply disappeared, so I honestly don’t know why I reconsidered going back to that toxic world. Anyway, I only returned to IG for a few days & once again I felt SO…I don’t want to say jealous coz I’m not like that, you should just be yourself, but it was definitely something similar and a sense of insecurity also hit me. It was horrible, so I knew straightaway I had to GET RID FOR GOOD this time! And so I did. I don’t miss it AT ALL! It really is such a dark place…All about being perfect & showing off, etc. Awful. Anyone that’s thinking of deleting, please do! You won’t regret it! ?

  31. I just uninstalled all of my social media today leaving youtube because i love learning through youtube and communication is somehow limited here. First hour after i uninstalled my social medias, i already have heavy withdrawal. Everytime i feel like something is funny, i had this urge to share it. I also on tiptoe thinking of unread messages or the info i'm going to lose. It's all nonsense, but i'm feeling the withdrawal, which means i am severely addicted.
    But i won't give in. I am looking forward to be able to sustain concentration longer and free of my fear of losing out. Kudos to everyone trying! God bless us all

  32. I deleted Facebook I am thinking about deleting Twitter. I occasionally use Instagram and Snapchat. Tumblr and Pinterest I use for ideas and that's it. I believe social media is better for if you have a business I don't have a business yet… so I only use social media a bit. When I start my business I will be using it but for only 30 mins.

  33. I think most people make the mistake of believing that those Facebook "friends" are real life friends.
    I made that mistake too, then I started putting quotes to that word, it was always Facebook "friends".
    Then peace came !
    I now see Facebook for what it is. A plain media !
    I go there and write and read as I would do with any media out there.
    I used to feel bad about "friends" not reacting to my "important posts", but now I can have a post with zero comment or like and still feel just fine about it.

    One of the reasons I can't discard Facebook is that it's part of my business now. I manage some business profiles and that makes quitting not z good idea.

  34. I have been following Dr. Newport's advice since a year and a half and I've never done better at studies than I do at this moment. Thank you, I owe my academic success to you Cal ♥️
    P.S. It all changed when I read his books 'deep work' last spring and quite later, 'digital minimalism'

  35. Since I quit fb and ig, i am less distracted and more focused on real life. Just got done building a website for my business and also my yard looks super nice now because I’ve been putting energy into it. ?

  36. After youtube addiction I can't read books I purchased many but not dare to read .
    My imagination is so weak after youtube. It is more dangerous than smoking cigarettes.
    You can sleep earlier cigarettes will not stop you but videos can engage you to sleep late

  37. I feel like facebook is only good for thots to promote themselves and instagram same but could be good for promoting bussiness cuz its ez and light. U have a restaurant just post pics of good food and thats promotion

  38. I used to be addicted to being on social media until I realized how unhappy it made me. I started focusing on likes and what other people favored that I shared or what photos they loved more. It causes you to look at your insecurities more because maybe in one photo that isn’t the perfect angle of the best side of your face or body didn’t get as many likes. Or maybe it’s the opposite where you get more attention when you post photos of yourself looking flawless but not when you post photos of things you really love like hiking without makeup or something.
    It basically mentally shapes you into believing that you’re better and you belong more if you are a specific way.

    So I deleted my social media accounts for good and I couldn’t be happier 🙂 it’s been about half a year and I’m loving it and I have zero urge to go back.

  39. I feel like it is all situational. Think about scenario which is realistic. You have a dead end job. You don't have a car. Public transportation is a joke. So basically you are landlocked. If you want to go further let's say they never have been in a relationship. I would assume social media might be great for someone like that.

  40. I've deleted all of my social media accounts permanently. Honestly, I just felt so down one day while scrolling through the endless content of Twitter and Instagram. This dark feeling that mocked me and constantly kept whispering to me about how much time I'm wasting that could be spent on working on things that would actually contribute to my growth. My growth to a mentally stable, informed, conscious, emphatic, productive human being. That and also the realization that among all those "followers" or "friends" you have, only a very small amount of people actually care about you and would stick with you in dark times. Cmon is it really THAT important to see what other people are eating, what they're doing, what they're thinking of at this very moment? Instead of looking at other people's lives and moping about yours in comparison to a carefully curated feed, why don't you look into your own life and curate your OWN success. We're so caught up in minding other people's business that our mind becomes people's business. Ever wondered why you used to be an avid reader but now can hardly get through 5 pages? Fragmented attention conditioning of our smartphones on us. That's the answer. . 3 months without Instagram and my social anxiety has quieted down considerably. Also, selfies have become absolutely senseless to me now. That's because I used to take them to post online for validation from people. Get your focus and long-term natural concentration back. Focus on yourself and your own personal growth. Use the Internet as means to learn and be well-informed. Be the master in control of your own attention.

  41. It should be call

    Consumption media or
    Distraction media or
    Addiction media
    Validation and attention seeking media

    Instead of social media

  42. I quit facebook & instagram. The only two apps I’m using are Pinterest and Youtube if that’s considered social media and they’re honestly the best !

  43. You know there’s going to come a day where he is going to have a social media account of some form, whether he likes it or not.

  44. Reading his book "Deep Work" now. It's fantastic. You don't have to 100% quit social media, you just need to have control over it and minimize it in your life! (per advise in his book)

  45. Both my daughters (30 & 26) gave up social media – with no particular encouragement from me. 30 has since successfully kept to her goal of reading a book a week. 26 has become a dedicated gourmet cook and baker. I only use Youtube. I love it, but it has short circuited my attention span significantly. I find it harder to read for sustained periods of time without reaching for the iPad.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *