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Do you learn what you seek through Social Media?

The website, http://www.worldometers.info/books/ suggests that a book is published every 12 seconds. Number of books published has shot up phenomenally in recent years thanks to coming of age of self-publishing which has democratized the ability of anyone to be an author plus our own desire to be well read.

Writing a book is a serious work. Even well-known authors who are in the flow don’t churn out more than one per year and many an author has not more than one book to his credit. Yet, with a growing population of readers and writers, writing a book is fast becoming the new calling card.

One step below the book would be the Blog. It’s much more easier to churn out a blog post than a book and with no barriers or cost associated with blogging other than your time, Blogs have taken off since the arrival of Blogspot and WordPress.

Googling for the same gets me the answer – a mind boggling 440 Million blogs and counting. While the number of blogs that are active (at least two posts a month for instance) can cut down the number, we are still speaking about a number that cannot be easily wrapped around our head.

Further down the food chain lie the tweets and facebook posts. These require literally zero effort in producing. It’s no surprise to hear that Facebook users upload 300 million photos per day. Just to give a perspective, if they were all viewed in a slideshow with each picture being given 1 second, it would take you 9.5 years just to completely view of one day’s upload.

8000+ tweets are sent every second. In other words, if you sleep for 8 hours, you are missing out on 23 Crore tweets that went out. How many were worth spending time on versus how many were just passing moments that one wouldn’t remember the next hour, let alone the next day?

While these numbers seem like excess, they have also been the catalyst for greater interaction, even if limited to only on these channels with more people than you could have ever have done if you went through your normal life without internet.

From discovering interesting places to visit, books to read, movies to watch – the possibilities of new things are endless.

“Too much of anything could destroy you, Simon thought. Too much darkness could kill, but too much light could blind.” ― Cassandra Clare, City of Lost Souls

Social media is addictive is a well-known fact. The blame lies in how our brains are modelled when it comes to acting on our needs and desires thanks to a chemical called Dopamine. In a 2017 article titled “How evil is tech?”, the New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote: “Tech companies understand what causes dopamine surges in the brain and they lace their products with ‘hijacking techniques’ that lure us in and create ‘compulsion loops’.

As if these weren’t enough to distract us for most of our waking hours, we have applications like Whatsapp which ensure that you never run out of Good Morning Quotes. At traffic junctions, its normal to observe most drivers utilizing the time on scrolling through their Whatsapp time lines.

The best thing about all these great technologies is that you are never asked to buy anything or at least directly. Thanks to falling prices of mobile and data connectivity, it’s never been cheaper to spent humongous amount of time with no feel of regret.

Early on in my own twitter career, the dopamine kick was given by the increase in number of people who followed me. But as the number of followers went up, that wasn’t enough to give me my kick. Rather, I got the kick by seeing how many liked or replied to my cheeky tweets, most of which I wouldn’t remember the next day forget about others.

For all the amount of time I spend trying to impress the thousands of my followers, my reward other than the regular kicks was the fact that my blog did see a bit more volume than it saw once I deleted my twitter account.

But even my best blog posts, never achieved the kind of viral re-tweeting that a random cheeky thought I posted once in a way. Not surprising that one of the accounts I have seen with the fastest growth in followers is an anonymous account who through the day tweets more or less tongue-in-cheek.

On the other hand, well known people in the area of finance who run real money and who can really be a good wall to bounce of ideas from are barely followed. Why follow someone who requires application of System 2 when its so easy to just use System 1 and move on.

Social media is an interesting way to connect with independent thinkers who otherwise may not be well known, but as Social Media has grown by leaps and bounds, finding those guys is becoming the proverbial needle in the haystack problem.

While twitter itself hasn’t been able to monetize to the extent it wishes to, it has helped create a platform for sellers of shovels to whoever is interested in digging gold. From selling software that can give you easy entry / exits to courses teaching the holy grail of trading, nothing is out of reach for the street smart entrepreneur.

Real learning never happens by accident – its always purposeful application of the mind on the subject at hand. Twitter and Facebook are distractions that sway you away from such thoughts for why bother with the hard work when you can get more excitement by posting a tongue in cheek comment.

 

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