Tiago's 🏑

xroot.org - EST 2006

28 Aug 2021

Social Networks 🚫 Tools & Productivity βœ…

Recently I decided it was time to not only take a break but instead fully departure social networks. This is a process that started years ago when I first got rid of other social media services, even though it was only completed when the last standing social network profile came to an end:

The goal of this post isn’t to motivate anyone into leaving Twitter or any other social network. I’ve decided to put some of my thoughts on the matter in a more structured format as I struggled to make sense of my own decision for quite some time. This was a learning process that I wanted to document, to a certain point.

Social means SOCIAL

One of the reasons I kept hanging around Twitter was because of the big presence of peers from information security. I felt that the information that was being presented was interesting enough and, to an extent, I felt that due to my job, I would be losing out if I wasn’t constantly keeping tracks of news an tweets.

This fear of missing out cornered me into regularly checking Twitter (even though I had notifications turned off) and I would find myself, without realizing, pouring over several minutes scrolling through threads and comments that added zero value to my experience or to my main reason for being on Twitter: my job. Twitter (and its highly polarized user base) became detrimental to what I was trying to do.

Social networks are meant to be exactly that: social. Bring people together, make networks/groups grow, recommend more people to follow, more topics to reply to, get more followers, etc, etc. The techniques for this are varied, but at one point (especially with how careful I was with the people I followed on Twitter) Twitter would notify me (or attempt to) about topics I never asked to be notified about:

  • Replies to tweets from people I don’t follow
  • Likes to tweets from people I don’t follow
  • Notifications about tweets from people I have no idea who they were

And as much as we choose “show less”, or “not interested”, these notifications would just keep coming in.

Seeing as there’s no social network that employs a simple “we’ll show you what you asked us to know about”, it was pointless to keep trying to shape Twitter to my idea of what a social network should be.

Leaving Twitter (and all other social networks) was the best decision I could have made, and the only regret I have is not doing it sooner.

What about missing out?

There was a time without social networks, and while I’m not sure we’ll live through that again in any foreseeable future, adapting your workflows to life without social networks is actually a lot easier than you might think.

The main reason for social networks, in my use case, wasn’t so much the social aspect. My goal was to keep track of news, reference peers and subjects I care about. Everything else (the likes, the replies, the retweets, …) was just noise.

How I went about fixing that was through the usage of an RSS reader (how I missed these). The one I chose was Inoreader, and I have to say that “RSS Readers” these days are not messing around.

In my subscriptions I’m able to keep track of:

  • Tweets from relevant people (with fine tuned Inoreader filters to get rid of the noise)
  • Typical RSS feeds (it’s crucial that we keep supporting this technology)
  • Reddit
  • Google searches
  • Tracking page changes (knowing when a price changes or when a product is back in stock)
  • & a lot more!

The best part of all of this is that there isn’t any social components in doing this. No trolls, no noise, no getting lost on cat threads or knowing that a person you don’t know in the other side of the world is taking a beer. Inoreader actually makes it very simply to “Disable Social Features” and that’s exactly how it should be.

Since changing and configuring my workflow, I get what I need, when I need it. I lose less time and therefor become more productive and less flooded with shit I never signed up to know about (politics, politics everywhere).

3CORESec Twitter profile - linked in the header of this website - has a simple social network policy: use it for announcements, giveaways and product updates. Nothing else.