Creativity Culture Productivity & Work

Why Seth Godin opts out of social media

Writer’s block is a fallacy, according to Seth Godin. You just write bad sentences and bad ideas until you something good to play with. After all, whoever got talker’s block?

Seth’s thoughts on social media are also thought-provoking and to the point. If you listen to his latest interview with Brian Koppelman, you’ll hear Seth say this:

“Social media is based on infinity. If you look at how many Facebook shares you got, if you look at how many Twitter followers you have, you have just enrolled in the wrong dialogue with yourself. I don’t read my Amazon reviews. I don’t look at my Google Analytics. I have no idea whether my subscriber base is going up or down. I don’t know if the the buzz is about something I did on Facebook because none of those things helped me do better work.

Seth Godin was popular as an author before he even started blogging every day. He doesn’t need to gain new fans nor expand his fan base by playing the system and responding to his fans on social networks–you’re either in his tribe or your not. Furthermore, he wouldn’t participate in social media even if he were just getting started today. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram–all that stuff gets in the way of doing what matters which is, first and foremost, the work.

Work requires tremendous focus. Thom Yorke goes off the grid when he records a new album. When some authors write books, they announce their departure from Twitter. Here’s one from author Teju Cole back in 2014. Note: he reemerged on Instagram about a year later.

Social media is hard to ignore. For one, it’s incredibly addicting, like playing the Vegas slot machines. You just want to keep pleasing the crowds which if you’re not careful, will start programming your thinking. You’ll begin to publish things that satisfy an audience rather than yourself.

As Maria Popova mentioned in a Tim Ferriss Podcast when Kurt Vonnegut said “write to please just one person” what he was really saying was to write for yourself. Still, there are tremendous benefits if you use social networks as a tool to connect with like-minded people that you hope one to meet in real life.

As Seth would go on to say in an interview with Tim Ferriss, we work for Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, etc. They make money breaking our individual and collective focus, tying our identity to their velocity. Consequently, we start avoiding the work that’ll outlast all of them.

PS. If you do want to reach out to Seth, he’s good about responding to email. But he still prefers you email Tim Ferriss instead.

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By Wells Baum

Wells Baum is a daily blogger who writes about Life & Arts. He's also the author of and four books.