I’m not on TikTok. Not even as a casual observer. Nor do I spend much time on Instagram or Facebook, these days. I do maintain a Twitter account, though at this point it’s write-only; I’m also part of both a professional and a social Slack, and in the latter case I deliberately limit myself to only a few of the available channels.
Of all the streaming media services out there, I’m only subscribed to Amazon Prime Video, although I did sign up for a month of Netflix in December to watch the holiday specials (cancelling my account well before January). My Amazon watchlist is already longer than I know I’ll ever get through, and I don’t really feel like I need more streaming sites reminding me of everything else I’m not watching.
Because I’m busy enough as it is.
Subscription hopping between Netflix and Disney+ and Foxtel, or limiting yourself to certain social media accounts or Slack channels, is one way of controlling the amount of content and interaction that reaches you on any given day.
The other way is to avoid signing up for anything that demands more time than you can give.
As Seth Godin recently wrote, on setting up new social media accounts:
While it only takes a minute to open one, it brings with it the promise of hours (or hundreds of hours) of future interaction.
And it adds up.
Godin calls this time-suck “interaction debt,” and the idea is that every new product, service, app, or tool you bring into your life takes a bit of your time away. Yes, some products and services are designed to save time—but you still have to spend time interacting with these products and working through the learning curve. Other products were theoretically designed to save time (like email and Slack) but have now expanded into the things that take up the majority of our day.
So the next time you’re considering signing up for another streaming media service or sleep-tracking app or social network, ask yourself how much of your day you want to give up to it.
Or, as I’ve written before on this very site: work backwards from the life you want, and then find the tools and apps and services that support that life.