The Alternative to Social Media

Social media leaves me feeling icky in the same way playing online chess does. Back in 2021, I started playing online chess, and it became a problem. I got addicted. Like, for real. I started sneaking off during get-togethers to play a few rounds of blitz, usually in the bathroom. Ya, like I said, it became a problem.

Here’s the thing about being addicted to online chess. No matter how many games I’d win, I’d always walk away feeling pretty shitty. Losing games was worse. It would ruin my whole day.

But playing in person felt different. There was something about playing over the board, with my opponent sitting across from me, that didn’t have the same effect on me as online chess. It was better. I played better. I had fun. These feelings were absent when playing online.

Social media feels much the same. The longer I spend on these apps, the shittier I feel. You might consider the alternative to social media is meeting up with people in person, but that’s not it.

The alternative to social media is slow media.

It’s not the quality of the content that’s the problem. Even bad ideas have value. If nothing else, they help you understand where you stand on specific issues. But the real problem is the pace and the quantity of these ideas. Good or bad. It doesn’t matter.

Social media doesn’t facilitate critical thinking because critical thinking takes time. Those engaging with content are encouraged to form an opinion and reply quickly before the fad furiously fades away.

Books, podcasts, and even blog posts require you to slow down. They unlock a path that encourages the development of a well-informed opinion, should you choose to explore it. Something that is increasingly absent from the social discourse online.

Most of the time, whenever I spend an hour on social media, I come away feeling shitty. But whenever I spend an hour reading a book or listening to a podcast, I come away feeling inspired and reinvigorated, not unlike playing chess over the board.

The alternative to social media is slow media.

So slow down. Give your brain a chance to think. Pick up a book or listen to a podcast. Spend time on things that take time. And allow your mind to explore.