post The s Overeating Social

Found at: sdf.org:70/users/sjc/2018-11-19-the-freelancers-trap-overeating-social-media.txt

layout: post
title: The Freelancer’s Trap: Overeating Social Media
author: Steven
date: 2018-11-19 03:32:04
- Musings
- Social Media Detox
featured_image: https://www.stevenjaycohen.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/wsi-imageoptim-social-media-overload.jpg
I've taken a few stretches of time away from Social Media, a detox of sorts. I've been reminding myself that I don't need to be constantly connected, that allowing for silence can, in fact, aid creativity. But, being self-employed and working in media, a large part of my workday requires me to be online using the very platforms that I try to avoid for my health and wellbeing.

When I take a break, I miss the people but not the platform. Does that make sense?

In truth, I don't actually mind the platform, but now that I've learned a lot about what goes on behind the scenes at social media companies, I find the whole thing a bit creepy.

It's like there's this big party and all of my friends are there, but it's being held at Mark's house. Mark is this odd guy and he is more than a bit of a control freak. And, I always feel like I need to check to see if I still have my wallet and my watch after I have spent any time with him.

People have complained to Mark saying that some of the people that he let's into the party make the rest of us feel unsafe. Mark says that he's sorry and that he'll do better in the future, but nothing ever changes. When confronted with this lack of action, Mark has gone as far as defending people that he let's into the party that shout hate speech at the rest of us. Instead of explaining to them that their actions are making many people at the party uncomfortable, Mark explains that those people have the right to their opinion. Those of us watching closely see that the hateful hordes are paying Mark handsomely for the opportunity to stand next to us while they spew hate and lies. Mark calls this "Free Speech," but since he's pocketing all of that cash, it doesn't look "free" from where we are all standing.

Still, the party is at Mark's house. If we want to be at the party, we need to put up with Mark's rules.

As a modern freelancer, I am stuck. My clients and colleagues are literally spread across the globe (from Tel Aviv, to Novi Sad, to London, to New York, to Chicago, to Los Angeles, to Tokyo, to Sydney). And, for the most part, I can catch up with all of them at Mark's house. When I stay away from Mark's house for too long, I miss too many things; too many opportunities have come and gone.

So, unlike a recovered alcoholic, I cannot afford to count the days, weeks, months, or years since my last visit to Mark's house. Instead, it becomes more akin to someone living with a food addiction, where in order to continue to live, I need to continue to consume the content that is offered through Mark.

Oddly, this shifting of the problem back onto myself makes it a bit easier to deal with. There is nothing wrong with Mark's stated mission: "To give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together." In fact, it's actually admirable. I just wish that Mark were going about it in a less Machiavellian manner.

If I think of Mark as the guy who conveniently "forgets" that I am trying to lose weight and shoves plates of food at me at his parties (while also "forgetting" to mention that for every plate of food he hands out he makes $X), then he becomes a wholly different type of jerk.

Mark has already made his parties useless to the hordes of partygoers who show up to share their latest business achievements. As of 2018, only 12 out of every 1,000 people that follow a business (that's 1.2%) ever see anything that a business posts organically. So, that self-promotional behavior is a waste of time no matter how often Mark posts reminders into my account asking me to pay for ad views.

The real value for freelancers is not in paying Mark for ads, but in participating in conversations in forums at his house (on his site) connected to our varied fields of expertise. Once we make those connections, we should link to our real websites (not our pages within Mark's site) and take the professional conversations elsewhere. Be forewarned that Mark will do everything in his power to keep us on his site, but don't fall for it.

Show up at the party. Be seen. Have genuine interactions with real people. Schedule a time to connect off-site. Head back to the real world. Leave Mark behind. Take a walk. Enjoy the sunshine.

Just be aware that Mark trafficks in addiction. He does so unabashedly. He doesn't need to. There are other ways to achieve his goals. So, until a government entity steps in and breaks up Mark's parties (maybe into a bunch of smaller parties?), we need to be conscious and present whenever we choose to interact with Mark. He doesn't have our best interests at heart. So, we need to do that for each other.