“It’s about cognitive load, it’s about the dip, and it’s about seeking to be a craftsperson”
Seth Godin on the Tim Ferris Show
I’m unconvinced it’s good business practice for a marketer to admit she’s hit a wall with the pace of her field. I remain resistant to the idea that being always on, present everywhere, and bending to the hustle culture is all it’s cracked up to be. Consider me 100% done with hustle guilt.
Sooo, in lieu of disappearing to a remote cabin to hide from civilization it’s time to do what any reasonable marketing maven would do in these circumstances and test my hypothesis to find out if I’m:
A) out of my mind and going to shrivel up into a sad, poor, block of woman
B) on to something and about to uncover some cosmic secret for a brilliant balance between my craft and my life outside writing.
There’s probably also a C (there’s always a C) hiding somewhere that I haven’t of yet. Here’s hoping it’s not “absolutely no appreciable difference in your work or happiness”. That would be ironic.
This current Internet Existential Crisis (aka wtf am I doing on the internet and why) came from revisiting an old podcast of Tim Ferris talking to Seth Godin.
Seth shared how he saw Twitter early (rare for him) and realized “Wow, I could do this and have a lot of followers”. But he asked himself, what would that mean?
It would mean less time spent writing his blog. It would mean exposing himself to anonymous comments from people who want him to pay attention to them.
So he asked himself, will either of those two things make him better at the things he wants to be good at?
Will there be a thrill to it every time he interacts? Yes. But Seth has conservation of fear and is thoughtfully careful here because he knows that if he’s busy sorting through more “stuff” his cognitive load goes up and he can’t do what Neil Gaiman does…
Neil Gaiman famously has said the way he writes a book is he makes himself extremely bored. If he’s bored enough a book will come out as a way to entertain himself.
The problem with social media is that social media was not invented to make you better. It was invented to make the companies money.
You are an employee of that social media company and you are the product they sell. They have put you in a little hamster wheel and they throw little treats in now and then, but you have to decide…
What’s the impact you’re trying to make?
If you’re investing time in social media and calling it building your brand, how sure are you that you aren’t just running on that hamster wheel and keeping yourself from being bored? I had an uncomfortable epiphany that day as I listened to Seth speak. It was clear to me that I was trotting away on the hamster wheel so I could feel busy, and productive, but was really hiding from doing the hard work of showing up. Really showing up with my ideas and thoughtfulness.
Social media likes, follows, and comments feed into the “quantified self”, but this means quantifying the self with dancing with the fear. They’re completely different things to do.
One is Taylorism, scientific management, moving widgets, being productive…but, our economy, our world, and our soul are not fulfilled by that. They’re fulfilled by people who do something that has never been done before.
If it’s never been done before, you can’t quantify it.
To be good at it means you clear the decks so all that is left is you and the muse.
You and the fear.
You and the change you want to make in the world.
What we need is people to type things worth reading. Not to type tweet after tweet to get pings of dopamine and quantified popularity.
So I’m now working off this theory:
If you are in public, making predictions and noticing things, your life gets better. Because you will find a discipline that can’t help but improve you. Are you able every day to say one thing that’s new that you’re willing to stand behind?
So, I’m saying adios to the social media platforms that were distracting me from doing work that matters, and wrestling with trying to understand why that sparks fear of becoming irrelevant. Is it some sort of conditioned response trained into me on the hamster wheel? I’m going to call it the resistance to showing up in a real way rather than hiding behind thoughtfully curated Instagram posts.
Eventually, I’ll be able to look back and ask “what did I miss”? In comparison to doing work that matters, I’m not convinced there will be anything missed there.