Jim Clark on the Cost of Time Wasted on Social Media

Recorded on July 18th, 2016

Yep, there’s an irony to posting this on my blog and then tweeting a link to it, hoping that you’ll see it. Will your life be better because of it? I don’t know. Maybe by a small amount. But there will definitely be a time and attention cost, paid by you. Add up enough slices of time and they become real opportunity costs, where you could have invested those house as uninterrupted, big blocks, getting something more important done.

Cal Newport recently wrote about a video interview at Stanford with Jim Clark, founder of Silicon Graphics, Netscape Communications, and other companies. He says:

I just don’t appreciate social networking, which has blown up in recent years. In part, because [I recently attended a panel on social media where a panelist was] just raving about people spending twelve hours a day on Facebook…so I asked a question to the guy who was raving: the guy who’s spending twelve hours a day on Facebook, do you ever think he’ll be able to do what you’ve done? That’s the fundamental problem… people waste too much time on that.

I hopefully spend much less time on Facebook than Facebook would like me to. The notifications about local events and the ability to keep in touch with far-away friends make it too convenient a service for me to leave entirely, but man is it ever a low-return on investment of time. Twitter is a little better, but it’s still fundamentally ephemeral stuff. I would hate to see the aggregate number of hours I’ve spent in my life scrolling through both of them.

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