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Social Media Is Not Free, It Costs. A Lot!

There are two distinct ways of talking about social media. The first is as a consumer of Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat and Instagram et al. The other is as a business owner, entrepreneur or marketer. What I'm discussing here relates to your engagement with social media as a consumer.

Whoever you are, whatever you do, whatever your individual settings, your News Feed is feeding you a never-ending stream of what's new, what's novel and what's entertaining. News Feeds are refreshed constantly, and are designed specifically to keep you engaged and your (sub)consciousness available to sponsors and marketers. The News Feeds are designed to develop an obsessive compulsion, so you feel (at least) curious, and (at worse) compelled to check in regularly, and to engage habitually. Social media is addictive for many, and it begins with an insidious creep.


Let me ask you these questions. Have you ever stopped at traffic lights and checked into a social media platform? Waiting in a queue, do you often pull out your smartphone within the first few minutes, if not straight away? Have you ever taken your phone to the loo with you? Well, you're not the only one. It is common now that when we have more than a nano second of idleness we habitually take to our phones to avoid boredom. We have less capacity these days to just be, to be present in the moment and to allow our minds to wonder. This is a shame, because that's where our creativity lies.

As a generation we have created Digiphrenia. No, I hadn't previously heard of this either, but it's defined as the constant, insane dual personalities people are immersed in between their phones and the real life around them. [Click here for further information about Digiphrenia]. By allowing ourselves frequent quiet periods of solitude, we can hear our inner voices, we are able to acknowledge and capture a creative spark of inspiration, that's been sitting dormant inside of us, just waiting for our frenetic mental energies to lessen enough to notice them.

Everyone has heard the phrase "sleep on it", well these days it's more important than ever. At what other point during your day does your mind have to mull over the important matters you need to resolve, except when you're asleep? If you refuse the natural daily pauses in your life (at traffic lights, in queues, the nano seconds of idleness) to ponder and cogitate, because you're feverishly reaching for your next hit of Facebook, then sleep is your mind's only opportunity to ever get anything done!

Let's face it, social media can be compared to fast food: easy, cheap and immediately gratifying, but if you want actual knowledge, learning and personal development, or true sustenance, you're going to have a book! You wouldn't feed your body i.e.: McDonalds all day every day and expect to be fit and healthy: Morgan Spurlock shows us what happens if you try. So why do we feed our minds with junk, and then expect to be highly productive Super-Achievers?


Remember a time, or imagine a time, when you were working on an important task. You're in the zone, concentrating hard and in full flow. Then your phone goes ping with some kind of solicitation for your time; be it a social media notification, or an email. You pick up your phone to learn that Amazon has a 50% sale on tiddlywinks, which is of no interest to you, so you put the phone down again. This process took you three seconds to execute, no harm no foul, right? Nope, wrong. It will now take you approximately 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to the levels of cognitive function that you were operating at, before the ping. And that's just one, single distraction. How many phone notifications do you get, on average, per hour?

Let's say you get five notifications per hour, and each distraction is costing you 23 minutes, 15 seconds + the 3 seconds you looked at and dismissed the notification. (We won't even address the what happens if you respond to a notification and disappear down a rabbit hole of distraction question, because you can guess that). Let's round up our 23 minutes and 18 seconds to 24 minutes of wasted productivity per distraction. Now multiply 24 minutes by the five distractions you will get in this one hour alone; which equals 120 minutes worth of distraction.

In this example, I can safely argue you will not have had the opportunity to be fully engaged, productive or in flow. These social media bombs are weapons of mass distraction, and they are costing you a lot! The simple answer is: turn you're phone off, or onto Do Not Disturb whilst you're working productively. You can have i.e.: the kids' schools set as a Favorite, should you need to be contacted in an emergency, but otherwise, Amazon's tiddlywinks offer can wait.


Let me prove how social media is not free: you only think it's free because they don't ask you for a credit card when you sign up. Let's say you have a goal to bring home £100k per year. Well, to begin with you're going to have to earn £160k a year, pre-tax and NI. On average you will work 2000 hours per year, or 120,000 minutes per year. So, £160k divided by 120,000 minutes = £1.33 per minute; this is what your time is worth.

Now how many minutes a day do you spend on social media, do you even know? Okay, well the national average is 1 hour and 40 minutes/100 minutes. Maybe you are engaged more or less than 100 minutes per day, so I'm showing you how to work it out for yourself with the national average.

If your time is worth £1.33 per minute, and you're spending 100 minutes per day on social media platforms, that's costing you: £133 per day, £931 per week, £3724 per month, £44,688k a year - and for what, cute cat memes and Russia-derived propaganda?!

For those arguing a £100k income is not truly representative, okay fair enough. The British government informs me the average salary for 2016/2017 is £27k, so let's break that down: £27,000 divided by 120,000 minutes = £0.23 per minute. Clearly not nearly as bad as the previous example, but hold your horses. Now multiply £0.23 by the average time spent on social media (100 minutes) = £23 per day, £161 per week, £644 per month, £7728k per year. Can you afford this any better?

This is the productive cost that social media is having on your life and work. What if your financial goals are 10X my £100k example, the impact would be sailing dangerously close to half a million quid!


Social media is not all bad. In fact it's a great means for keeping in touch with friends, family and loved ones who live or work in far flung places, but you have to keep it in its rightful place, as a portal of entertainment only.

The safest way to harness social media is to allocate it its own time slot, during a day (and time of day) that is not going to negatively impact upon your productivity - whether you're employed or self employed. Think of it this way: would you interrupt a meeting, put a customer service call on hold, or suspend a stock audit to watch an episode of EastEnders (if it's still being aired...?). Of course not. Well, not without expecting to lose your job or business for malpractice. So why are you essentially checking into inconsequential crap McNuggets during your productive working hours? Every time you plug yourself into Facebook to get your next hit, you're losing 24 minutes of highly productive cognitive function, multiplied by how much your time is worth, multiplied by the number of times you plug in per day.

THIS is why social media is not free. It costs. A lot! I urge you to work it out for yourself, or give me a call if you'd like to discuss this matter in more detail.

Karan | 01536 601749 - voicemail


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