#6 The bare-essentials of Social Media
Which Social Media to use & how, Citizen of the Internet and pay for Social Media?
In the previous letter, I introduced you to the algorithmic trap. Once you see it, you can’t un-see it. As a general rule, I suggest no algorithmic feed on any/all social media. This letter digs deeper into configuring social media platforms.
Last year, I read quite a lot about the theory of information and was amazed by how information is quite surprisingly something physical and forms the base layer of our universe. What this implies for human communication can be best contained in this quote:
There is no thought without language, no content without form, no message without a medium. The Medium creates the Message.
With that context, we live in a unique time in all of human history: The Age of Information. Now, the digital medium is truly a universal one. It can virtually carry any form of content and as we create different interfaces for humans to communicate, different forms of expression sprout up.
This is so obviously evident on YouTube which for the first time allowed anyone to publish a video of any length to everyone. That simple rule alone led to a variety of sub-genres of film-making like vlogging, video essays, etc. Further, it led to all kinds of people to make videos who might not have done otherwise. The Internet itself did the same for blogging, and Instagram for pictures.
But soon every platform started adding/stealing features to attract new kinds of users. This distracted the network from the reason (content-type) it was originally built upon. The user loses track of why to follow someone, and what content to find. It buries what made the platform valuable in the first place. This newsletter explains how you uncover that.
Use a social media for its bare essentials. Don't use a social media with unclear essentials.
At its core, Instagram is a site to post pictures. You follow people whose pictures you like. But soon private accounts became popular to create a de-facto Facebook on Instagram. The problem: your higher interactivity with your friends biases the algorithms to show more of your friends' posts in the feed than the inspiring creators Instagram brought you.
Meanwhile, Snapchat created stories. Which proved to be a much better way to share your daily lives with friends in a no-mind state.
So I customized Instagram back to its fundamentals: Muted all posts from my friends and confined them to Stories. Now my feed (except, not being chronological) is again populated by some of the best artists in the world.
The bare essential: I follow people whose pictures I love, and their pictures appear on my feed. I did the same with YouTube, as I confined all of my activity to the subscriptions tab. I consciously started doing this about 6 months ago, and very quickly it becomes a habit. Reactively, I started to un-subscribe any channel I didn't care about and slowly my feed was mostly filled with creators I loved.
To me, new videos dropping on YouTube almost feels like new episodes dropping for a favourite TV show. If unknowingly I am on the YouTube Home tab, I instantly switch as the inferior quality is so apparent.
The essentials of a social media is this: A unique content type, and clear logical rules on how to connect to recieve that content.
In the previous letter, we already talked about avoiding any & all algorithmic feeds. Barring Instagram & Medium, it is possible everywhere. I never use Medium app, even though I am a subscriber. My subscription allows me to read Medium blogs I discover via Twitter.
Using for the essentials keeps your network on the respective platforms clean and populate your feeds with the relatively higher signal-to-noise ratio. Very commonly we follow someone we admire across all platforms when we should be only following when we love their content in the respective format of the platform.
Platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. have unclear "essentials" and in my opinion, one should avoid those platforms. Though more on this in a future letter. Also, We'll be talking about Reddit in a separate letter.
Think about this
“The internet has massively broadened the possible space of careers. Most people haven’t figured this out yet.”
- Naval Ravikant
It's hard to comprehend the numerous possible career paths you can be taking while still following your genuine curiosity. Chances are you've constrained yourself to a "job label" too soon. As Naval explains:
"The internet is an inter-networking tool. It connects everybody. That is its superpower. So, you want to use that. What that helps you figure out is the internet means you can find your audience for your product or your talent, and skill no matter how far away they are. The Internet allows you to scale any niche obsession."
Internet is a blank canvas that doesn't explain itself. David Perell writes one of the most practical guides on leveraging the potential of the most popular technology ever.
Respond to this
How much of your social media feed are you willing to pay for?
You may reply to this E-Mail, or via WhatsApp. I'll compile the responses and share the key insights in the next email.
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