A New York Reporter Revealed I’m a Social Media Addict

The good sides, and not-so-good sides of social media.

Photo by Juan Montana on Unsplash

It started with a direct message from a well-known American Newspaper Reporter. He wanted to ask me a few questions about social media (seemed harmless at the time).

He found my work thanks to the dark art and surprise of Search Engine Optimisation and an article I wrote two years ago that had less than one hundred views.

The interview with him was going to be all about social media — or so I thought. We jumped on a call early Saturday morning. There was no messing about and he got straight into the narrower topic of social media addiction. What was my experience with it?

I hadn’t really thought about it and the truth is I thought those days were behind me. As the interview progressed, it became clear that my addictive social media tendencies were still alive and well. There was one moment about halfway through where a thought popped into my head:

Am I just another cog in the economic content machine?

Producing content on social media can often feel like an opt-in daily subscription that you don’t pay for with money but with a currency even more precious and scarce: time.

After this interview with the reporter, it revealed to me that I’m a social media addict and you know what’s crazy? I’m fine with it and you’re about to see why.

Here are the good sides and the downsides of social media from the interview with this New York Reporter.

The Downsides

Over the last five years there have been many downsides to my daily habit of posting on social media sites like LinkedIn.

Men in white masks

There was a stage where men in metaphorical white masks, posing as saviors of the internet, sought to take me down for my tendency to share positive stories that could inspire people.

They found me through written articles and attached themselves to my work in the comments section. There were deliberate lies made up about me and sensationalized for effect. These lies were then amplified by sharing the comments in a group chat app with other men in white masks and then tagging more people in the comments section.

Before anyone (including me) realized what was happening, I was portrayed as a young Hannibal Lecter with a hunting knife ready to murder small children. This, of course, was the opposite of who I was but the comments section brought this image to life.

Bathroom shoulder touches

These are creepy. Imagine (for the dudes) taking a leak in the urinal and having someone touch you on the shoulder and say hi.

Well these kind of scenario’s have happened. It might seem like fun to be noticed but the perils of fame are not what they seem. Being noticed for your work can force you to believe you are better than you are or highlight the hidden introvert inside of you that you didn’t know existed.

You can be in a business meeting and have someone randomly mention something you wrote or be introduced to a new customer and have them only remember you for the last post you published on LinkedIn.

You can attend an event to see a well-known entrepreneur and have the teenager doing the guest-list ask “are you on the influencer list?” and shamefully shake your head so you can get your ticket.

Privacy is worth appreciating and fame — or in my case, having your work noticed — is worth reconsidering.

Checking social media at work functions, social occasions, and on romantic dates

Once you opt in to social media and make it a daily have like I have, you are forced to post on social media to keep the wheels of your work turning.

The social media platforms have got really clever and not publishing for a while is a criminal offence punishable in the form of audience reduction.

The reporter from New York asked me when I post on social media. It was hard to lie in order to cover up my social media addiction, so I told him the truth:

“I publish on social media on Saturday Nights, on dates with my girlfriend, during catch-ups with friends and even in the middle of last week’s work function.”

Then he delved a little deeper.

“Do you leave the table or depart the function briefly, or do you bring your laptop out in front of everybody?”

I’d never been asked this much detail. The answer was I would leave the occasion and take my laptop out with me. He then asked me if I do the same with my phone. What was odd is the answer changed. It is socially acceptable to publish content from your phone during a social occasion but socially unacceptable to bring out your laptop and do the same.

The reason for the laptop, in my case, was that you can’t publish long-form articles on platforms like LinkedIn without doing it from a computer. The phone version of the platform doesn’t have a “Write Article” button for upcoming amateur writers like me.

Comment reply syndrome

The article that sparked the reporter to reach out to me was written after I fell sick with comment reply syndrome.

This happens when you have a piece of content that starts trending on social media and you have the option of replying to comments in realtime to further increase the reach.

As you reply to comments in realtime, more people see you replying and leave their own comments. This process causes the social media algorithms to boost your posts and the effects are compounding. (This was a technique that the team from the game “Armello” taught me when they raised $400K on Kickstarter.)

This may seem like a good idea, although the downside is you are literally glued to your device. When an article of mine on LinkedIn went viral in 2017, I fell ill with comment reply syndrome and it consumed every waking moment. There are better things in life than replying to comments.

Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash

Being declined for a job

The reporter asked me if my social media habit had ever affected my 9–5 career. I told him about being declined for a job because of an article I wrote about toxic work cultures.

Not everyone loves what you have to say on social media and whether we want to admit it or not, the decision-makers of the corporate giants do look online and google candidates. Being on social media is an agreement with yourself that you’re going to be okay if you get declined because of it.

In my case, my social media habit meant more to me than a job with a leader who was worried about my blogging — the good leaders couldn’t care less.

A high-paying job isn’t always worth all the damage it does to you — Jessica Wildfire

Updating current job hokey pokey

The reporter inaccurately thought that my day job was to be a full-time writer. When I asked him why he thought that, he said: “that’s what your LinkedIn profile says.”

I explained to him why I didn’t update my job on LinkedIn and how social media gives you the option to tag your employer in your life when both sides haven’t had a chance to be in a relationship for long enough.

Your employer can silence your social media if they choose, and that is a downside if you like sharing your thoughts online. The only way I have been able to avoid this pitfall is because my work is positive and aims to be helpful rather than to commentate or talk down to strangers.

The Good Sides

There have been many overwhelming benefits to social media which often go unnoticed.

A reason to exist

Social media has given a lot of meaning to my life. Without it, I wouldn’t have a place to explore the world and use my experience to help other people facing similar challenges to mine.

When you have a reason to wake up in the morning, you act differently and your priority list changes. The temptation to piss your time up against the wall doing stuff you know is pointless, begins to fade. When I’m asked in job interviews why I work or how I have stayed clear of mental illness, the answer is always the same: the meaning that comes from my life/work (which is enhanced by social media).

Money when you’re kicked to the gutter

A hot topic during the interview with this reporter was about money. He was curious to know how social media could help people earn a living.

I told him that thanks to social media, when I lost my job and was kicked to the gutter without a paycheque to pay the water bill, social media funded my lifestyle and allowed me to take a break.

The upside of social media is that you can use it to be helpful and at some point, people will want you to go deep with them in your area of expertise where they will pay you handsomely for your time.

The reporter thought that the content itself made the money but I explained to him that for many social media content creators, the money came from the people who contacted them, not the content.

Content filled with ads, affiliate links and hidden sells has lost its shine and social media allows you to tackle earning a living in a different way.

You can coach, consult, ghostwrite, set up an eCommerce website, write a book or charge your audience to become members and gain access to premium content all using social media. Social media has supplemented my income during the hard times and I see that as a huge benefit.

Instant career relationships

There have been plenty of situations thanks to social media where business relationships have been instantly formed because the rapport with an individual was automated and built through social media long before the real world interaction took place.

Time and time again, social media has helped me get meetings with hard to reach decision-makers and do business later on.

Not all people in business appreciate my content, which takes getting used to, but the vast majority appreciate it and find at least some of what is said useful. No amount of sales leads, cold calling or pitching could ever produce this result in my career.

A broken up work week

My work week is a little odd and I thank social media for that. Here’s what it looks like:

Monday — 9–5 job and editing my writing at night
Tuesday — 9–5 job and more editing at night
Wednesday — 9–5 job and the creation of social media posts
Thursday — Full day writing from scratch
Friday — 9–5 job and relax after work
Saturday — Full day writing from scratch
Sunday — Upload images to stories in the morning. Rest of the day free.

The world of work has changed for me because of social media.

My week is divided up between traditional business, freelancing, and going in and out of creative states of mind that feel like freedom.

Strangers with candy who become friends

Social media has brought more people into my life who share a similar mission to me of inspiring the world through entrepreneurship and personal development.

Strangers such as Oleg Vishnepolsky and Michael David Chapman showed me the power of inspiration, but more importantly, pulled me up at times and criticized my work to help it grow.

The benefit of these friends I made through social media was that when times got tough, they were right there to tell me what I needed to hear and mentor me through the cable of their internet connection.

Insane work ethic

We’ve all heard that habits are powerful. Well, social media has helped me form a ruthless habit — when before social media, I would give up easily right before the progress from my work was about to appear.

All these social media posts, crazy hours, walking out of work functions with my laptop, and sharing the rawest/vulnerable moments of my life have created a work ethic that keeps me going.

Unlike my music career which died, social media has forced me to pay attention and be consistent. And for a tall dude from Australia that can’t even maintain a cigarette habit, that’s a good thing.

The Benefits of Social Media Far Outweigh the Negatives

The reporter from New York pointed out that I might be a social media addict, but what’s more important is that they helped me realize that the benefits of social media far outweigh the small list of negatives.

I’m not sure there would be anything about my social media journey that I’d change. It has been one hell of a ride and shown me a side to myself that I never knew existed.

The most important benefit I have been given from social media is a meaning for my life. And that is something I will never trade in for short-term benefits.

Social media has its good sides and it comes down to whether there are enough positive reasons for you to create a daily habit. No one can tell you whether it’s going to be good for you — only you can.

At the end of the interview with the reporter, I was left with this question: What have we become because of social media? Think about it. The answer might surprise you.

Aussie Blogger with 100M+ views — Writer for CNBC & Business Insider. Inspiring the world through Personal Development and Entrepreneurship — timdenning.com/wc

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