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Quit Social Media, Your Career May Depend on It (nytimes.com)
1131 points by shill on Nov 20, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 548 comments

This part really resonated with me:

> Consider that the ability to concentrate without distraction on hard tasks is becoming increasingly valuable in an increasingly complicated economy. Social media weakens this skill because it’s engineered to be addictive. The more you use social media in the way it’s designed to be used — persistently throughout your waking hours — the more your brain learns to crave a quick hit of stimulus at the slightest hint of boredom.

I've recently been finding it really hard to concentrate on my work and I genuinely think this might be the reason. I find myself compulsively opening twitter and tumblr and scrolling through for ages before realising that literally none of it is interesting. I'm just scrolling past brightly coloured images and auto-playing videos while completely distracted and detached from the real world.

I agree with the sentiment elsewhere in these comments that the solution isn't to completely delete your accounts (I think they can have some value when used in moderation), but rather to change the way I use them. Maybe deleting the native apps and using the webapps will raise the barrier to entry high enough that I'll only use them when there's actually something I want to do on them.

As for Facebook, I deleted that a few months ago and my quality of life instantly increased.

> I've recently been finding it really hard to concentrate on my work

I've overcome my Facebook, Reddit, and Twitter problems, but I can't seem to shake Hacker News.

Same here. HN is addictive, but also insanely useful in some cases which makes it hard to leave like any other mentioned site there.

I literally owe many of my succesful professional decisions to researches that initally started here. I find some interesting article, read the comments first, then the article, then the comments again. In the middle of this flow, I decide whether it is worthy to save to my Pocket account. Those things in my Pocket quite often become kickstarters for things that I eventually adopt using or learning. I see no way of giving up such opportunity. Why would anyone do that? (That is a serious question that I really wish there exists a convincing answer)

Have you checked if the articles in your Pocket share something, for example upvotes or number of comments? Because then you could browse the top posts only once per week. Either via Hckrnews [1] or use the curated Hacker Newsletter [2].

[1]: http://hckrnews.com/

[2]: http://www.hackernewsletter.com/

Thanks for mentioning Hacker Newsletter! I hear from several subscribers a week (currently have almost 40k) that mention it has helped them cure/control their HN addiction. :)

I'm getting an access denied error when trying to subscribe

Sorry to hear that. It seems to be working fine based on the couple hundred others that have signed up this evening, so maybe try again? If that doesn't work, hit me up via email (listed in my profile) and I'll see what I can do!

Problem for me: the most popular ones are usually the least interesting ones. To get to the actual hacking and critical thinking I usually have to wade through through first page business talk and VC news, or get my hands dirty in the "new" section.

This doesn't help because the rush comes from typing and news.ycombinator.com looking for getting early into stories that are trending! :)

I'm subscribed through HNDigest http://hndigest.com

Just enough distraction for my work day.

Hacker News is actually a high quality medium and I God it pretty information dense. Facebook, on the other hand, gives me lots of videos of stuff that is utterly useless, and often just makes you feel angry about the world. I'm using it less and less.

Twitter I don't use at all. I don't even read it.

Twitter really depends on who you follow. I don't follow friends, but thought leaders I respect. I get r of the best ideas and all my news from there

One thing that HN has done is make my comments look ridiculous when I type them out on an iPhone.

I use the Panda extension for Chrome in part to keep track of what's trending on HN each day. If something piques my interest I'll usually check it out when I want to take a short break from work. This is a simple rule that helps limit how frequently I click through and I've found it to be very effective.

How much does it cost to go pro on (Panda)? I couldn't find out without kind of "going through".

I don't have a clue! I just use the free version of their extension.

I utilize their 2-feed layout option with HN (set to "Trending" posts) on the left and "visual inspiration" sites on the right (default is Dribbble, but I have Lapa, ffffound, Design Inspiration, etc. in the list, too).

I'm trying to use HN & reddit mostly as a pull-based source of information, instead of something that pushes an endless stream of things into my brain and needs to be followed constantly.

It's quite simple, when I'm looking for something, I do a google-based site-specific search to HN. I often find very old threads with really good value.

I still follow things every few days to stay on top of trends. I haven't discovered how to catch up with those without frequent visits, though. Perhaps the solution lies in NLP summary technology.

As someone else recently pointed out, you do know there is an awesome instant search feature right here on hn, https://hn.algolia.com. Don't need to power up The Google.

Thanks, I didn't know.

You've just given a good justification for staying up to date with trade news.

I've recently made a Zapier 'zap' that sends me a daily digest of @newsyc100 by e-mail. I realised that that account was the biggest reason I was still scrolling through my Twitter feed all the time. Ever since I've only checked Twitter once every few days, when I explicitly wanted to.

In the case of Facebook I found that just removing it from my bookmarks bar helped loads. Prevents me from just clicking on it half-dazed and starting to scroll.

Same here. Although I never got pulled in by Facebook and only a little with Twitter, I did with Reddit and especially Hacker News.

HN is the one where I find myself checking several times/day and I constantly have 20+ HN tabs. The pattern is something like this:

1) "Oh, interesting topic!"

2) Open in a tab

3) Read existing comments & the link (I don't always do the latter, admittedly)

4) Come back N hours later, read new comments

5) Repeat #4 over a day or two

6) Close tab unless I haven't read the link yet. If I haven't, then they tend to stick around until I do or send it off into OneTab for ultimate procrastination.

I follow a very similar pattern here on HN. One thing I've been thinking about lately is that I always read the comments first and only sometimes visit the link. The links act as topics that allow for discussion more than an end/reward in and of themselves (like on reddit for example). I'm always interested in hearing domain expertise, anecdotes, opinions, etc from the HN crowd which is, admittedly, much different than my active social circle.

Spot on. That's a good way of looking at it - that the links act as topics. The comments are definitely the main value proposition (and addiction) for me.

This was true with Slashdot as well, now that I think about it. Back in the day it had the same draw for the same reasons. Though I think HN is a better version, since it doesn't have a few editors driving it like /. did, which was often frustrating.

I don't think I'm as addicted to HN. I use to be pretty bad with facebook and ...oh god..sigh..myspace..but I think there was a point sometime in 2009 where I just felt my use had to be curtailed. Reddit naturally replaced facebook and I was pretty addicted to that as well. Reddit was probably the most difficult to curtail mainly because as I was earning my phd I belonged to some subs on the specific topics I was studying and found the stuff being posted to be relative to what I was studying. Post-PhD and what not, I use a new account there and don't really post much. I prefer to check in later in the day along with HN to catch some of the interesting reads and read up on the responses in the comments. But usually that's only after I've taken my lunesta and am winding down for bed.

I think all SM has good and bad parts. It's all addictive to some degree or another or it wouldn't be widely used. I think the addiction in hn is not the articles but the comments

> I think all SM has good and bad parts.

Correct. But like Professor Ted Kaczynski stated in his "Technology Manifesto"

> The bad parts of technology cannot be separated from the good parts.

This here is pretty much applicable to everything online, not just SM. Example: FaceBook and Twitter are used to organize protests, break news, reconnect with lost loved ones. The same technology sites are also used to recruit terr_ists, phish and spam seniors and unsuspecting people, troll and commit felony crimes etc...

I have replaced (2) with Shift-Click, which is Add to Reading List on a story link in Safari. It works better to preserve attention for me. I end up not reading 90%+ of what sounded interesting from the front page on first glance.

Similar pattern but on mobile. Now chrome doesn't bother with the tab count, just a ':D'

If I'm honest, I'm exactly the same: I'm on HN right now to avoid my matlab coursework. While HN doesn't feel like it's designed for distraction in the same way FB and Twitter are, it does seem to have the same effect: there's a reliable, constant stream of content that's vaguely stimulating. I think this is the combination that's so addictive. It feels as though your brain enters a lower energy state where content is being fed into it with minimum effort. Something about the lack of required energy to find and consume content seems to be what makes it powerful.

HN also has the noprocrast settings. I've set the parameters to enforce an optional habit of reading HN once a day (usually after work). It works quite well.


For this reason, I always end up reading HN and Reddit after work. I'm usually mentally exhausted and need half an hour or so of nothing mentally taxing to recover. I imagine other things might fill this role for different people.

I can relate to that and part of it is probably because we don't want to be left out, we don't want to miss the latest technology that will make us obsolete, etc.

1) Reading HN all the time creates a false sense that things are moving much faster than they really are.

2) I'd suggesting reading "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck" and it'll remind you your time is finite


Absolutely no need to buy the book. Just read his original blog post that is more or less a TLDR; version of this bloated Amazon book. It made a huge difference in my work life. Everytime I found myself in a dumb user or arrogant dev or inept manager type situation (in meetings or emails or face-2-face), I would think back to this blog post and instantly feel better.

Mark Manson "THE SUBTLE ART OF NOT GIVING A F_CK" (12 minute read) => https://markmanson.net/not-giving-a-fuck

Thanks for the TLDR!

I couldn't help but see an irony in the Amazon description for this book considering the subject being discussed :)

"In this generation-defining self-help guide, a superstar blogger cuts through the crap to show us how to stop trying to be "positive" all the time so that we can truly become better, happier people."

That being said this looks interesting and I am going to give this a read. Thanks for the tip!

Indeed. The book is really good in the first half. The second half is a mishmash of common sense advice, but I still found it useful.

The art of not giving a fuck link was actually pretty good read

Also may give the false impression that you are becoming smarter though contact with constant flow of info

I've blocked HN in my /etc/hosts on my laptop. I also recently blocked it on my phone. I can still read it in a VM on my laptop but at least I have to make a conscious decision to view it where as before I blocked them I'd literally type `n` and chrome would auto complete to `news.ycombinator.com` and I'd be 20-30 minutes in before I realized I never consciously decided to start reading.

I have similar problems with the net in general. This happens to me all too often. I decide to do something like take a shower. I walk to the shower and turn it on letting it heat up. I remember something that I want to remind myself to do. I walk over to the computer to type in a reminder. Before I even start typing the reminder something on the screen distracts me. 5-15 minutes go by. I go back to the shower and just before getting in I realize I never typed the reminder. So, I walk over to the computer to type the reminder and the same thing happens again. This type of thing has happened on more than one occasion. For example I'm walking out of the house, at the door I remember something tiny I want to do on the computer (send a mail, write a reminder, ...) same things happen as above.

To me, this loss of control looks like a very classic addiction pattern. As a suggestion, try to get in touch with a Internet/computer addiction specialist.

Not sure why the downvotes. It was an opinion, and actually not a disinformed one due to experience in my circle of friends. I did not want to sounds paternalistic in any way.

Thank you for the concern. You might be right. I guess I assume addition means I can't go without without withdrawals but I know I can go without just fine (long vacations) etc.. so at least at the moment I just look at it as being distracted easily (like a child ;P)

Your welcome. I just thought I give a comment - does not hurt, after all. As you mentioned, if you accomplish your life goals as planned there should not be reason to worry.

I have the same problem. I found editing my hosts files helps. news.ycombinator.com
When or if I try to go to HN I get an error in my browser and instantly reminded. Then I get back to work. One time I went 6 months without visiting HN.

HN offers this functionality itself. Go to your profile, enable 'noprocrast' and customize the intervals.

Didn't know this. Thanks a ton for this. Awesome I just enabled it.

Oh funny thing I found I was wrong about showdead setting there... I had assumed if I wanted myself to be declared dead/offline I could set my profile to show dead.. lol

> Oh funny thing I found I was wrong about showdead setting there... I had assumed if I wanted myself to be declared dead/offline I could set my profile to show dead.. lol

What's its functionality?

It shows posts from dead users, those who have been silently banned and still post.


When showdead is on, you see killed comments. Mostly spam and trolls. Only recommended for moderators.

Everyone's a moderator after gaining a bit of karma, since you can update and vouch for comments. It seems to be getting better, but there's still a few people getting hellbanned by what I can only consider a mistake.

Is it useful to report these potential mistakes? I have showdead on, and quite often I'll see decent comments. When I look at the user's history, sometimes there will be over 1000 karma for that user, decent posting record, and then at some point you see all their comments as dead (with no obvious troll comments that could have triggered it).

I wouldn't mind reporting on these, or vouching for the good ones, but it would be nice to have a channel where I could get feedback -- such as "this use was banned for reason xyz on these 10 comments".

> Is it useful to report these potential mistakes?

The "vouch" feature was recently added exactly for the purpose of correcting those mistakes as we spot them - so I'd say it is useful. Moderators are just people and have finite time too.

For individual submissions/comments there is always the "vouch" button. And the mods have been extremely friendly when I've mailed them about what looked to me like a new user which got caught in a spam filter by accident (which was then fixed, and the user asked to resubmit their "lost" submission)

showdead can also be be useful if you're new to participating so you can see what types of comments get banned and determine what the community generally finds unacceptable.

Just set it to 20min visit, 8640min break. My goal is to just read /beat and /bestcomments. Won't be able to comment myself very well this way though. Wish me luck :)

You mean /best instead of /beat?

This only works if I am logged in though. Thanks for pointing it out though as I completely forgot about it.

I had a little cron job that swapped in a hosts file with entries like that at 8 am and then swapped it back out at 5 pm. Helped me break the habit of going on reddit during downtime during work hours.

I wish, I could do that with reddit, but I reddit isn't just for news and trending shit. For many things I am trying to find a reddit discussion first.

I can only block the whole domain, right?

I imagine a proxy with a whitelist/blacklist setup should be easy to throw together in quick fashion, then set your browser to use that. TLS sites become a little more problematic, unless you feel like MITM'ing your traffic there as well.

I imagine there is some software where you can block the entire domain but whitelist certain subreddits - I do not think the hosts file affords that level of granularity however.

Avoiding HN entirely doesn't really solve the problem though.

The problem with hn is that it's likely to get past your primary defenses and justify itself by telling you the information provided is useful and relevant. Also, the conversations are likely to engage you at a higher level and the many of the arguments require laying out your case like a legal team to be taken seriously.

It is useful and relevant. However, just because something is good for you doesn't mean it can't be used as a distraction from another task.

Absolutely. There are lots of good, interesting, and useful things to spend time on, but that doesn't mean they are always the right use of my time right now.

That's exactly the problem. If I'm in "work mode" I'm after the thrill of tackling a meaty challenge. Then I don't procrastinate. But when I'm dealing with some tedious dependency hell/build glitches/other slow boring BS, I go looking for my intellectual thrill and before I know it, hello HN.

No argument here, hence my constaclicking.

The actual inventor of Hacker News, Paul Graham, hasn't commented for over a year:


Considering that he was very very active on HN in the past (karma 155077), I wonder what his reasoning is to cut back?

He was active, but the reason his karma is so high is that everyone has an upvote spasm when they see PG comment.

He has small kids. I stopped being active for a few years when my kids were born. It's natural.

Well, the quality of the discussions on HN have taken a dive dramatically since about a year and a half. So maybe he just doesn't feel theres much to comment these days.

From my perspective, from a very humble position, the content on this site seems to skew toward the "harder" science problems lately, a far cry from when 5 out of the top 10 stories were RoR related and many other stories were related to pushing CSS and JS to the extreme with a smattering of stories about startups and people hitting it big or failing.

I think we have since learned about the influence of survivor bias, that you can really accomplish the same things in any programming language and that since YC itself is now focusing on larger problems, some with sociological and political leanings, that it is best to move on from looking at things at the code level and instead look at the bigger picture.

A year and a half? Hmm, I think that's about the time I've been more active on HN. Sorry about that.

People have been saying that for the entire 6 years I've been reading HN.

Perhaps that is because it has been declining for the entire 6 year period.

If you fit the curve, HN was perfect about 14 months before it was created.

Those were the days!

Isn't that true of all software?

Concern over the decline of HN reached a head ~5.5 years ago.

Has it? I've seen comments such as this for a few years now, but I didn't notice the decline myself.

Some of the political arguments would -never- have been tolerated in the early years. Users and moderators would have quickly suppressed them...but they seem to have infested the forum since then.

100 times this. There needs to be a coordinated effort to stamp out all political material on HN so we can focus on actual Hacker News and not the Silicon Valley political sphere.

I was away for awhile...came back and was shocked at the level of political bickering and posts that were allowed to stay. A lot of the old members have moved on, it's a different place these days. Such is life.

Forums tend to become fragmented over time because as the number of active users increases, the diversity of the opinions of the community increases. Such increased diversity results in an increase in opposing viewpoints, which drives users away and increases the frequency of political in-fighting.

There are no moderation tools at present which can prevent this sort of in-fighting with blatant censorship.

In the absence of such tools, the only viable solution is a fragmentation of the community. This is most apparent to HN readers with the rise of lobste.rs

I think around the election it was pretty political, and some of the discussion was pretty, uh, heated. It's calmed down again.

They said that a year and a half ago.

I would wager that he wanted to distance himself from the increasingly negative / toxic "community".

Hacker News isn't social networking. Look, you have no friend list. No private message box. No feeds are pouring into your account. If you post something inane, you're punished by anonymous strangers.

Not quite. It's mostly not social media but there are similarities. There's a friends list here for sure where certain topics or people attract either similar or the same people. A small community effect happens there in the sub-threads. There's no private messaging but anyone posting an email or contact option will get messages if their posts are worthwhile. Anyone with HN Replies commenting a lot will have a pile of posts in their inbox on topics of interest. The last requirement mostly doesn't apply to decent members of the community but the sketchy ones dodge with with throwaways on a regular basis.

So, a bit closer to underlying mechanics of social networking in practice than it would seem on surface. Enough to get a similar participation high. That's on top of the knowledge expansion we use to justify the other high coming from the fact that we just enjoy reading this stuff. ;)

An I alone in never looking at usernames? I only read the content of each comment. I only look at the username to track a back-and-forth between two users and even then it's pretty much an opaque token to me. Might as well be a random string.

Your unconscious mind will see them. I don't know how much effect that has. I did consider helping people eliminate bias by creating a HN client that replaces the names with random ones on a per-thread basis. Any replies get substituted with real name when sent to actual site. Also some filtering options.

It is a sorta social networking though. A pull instead of push one, yes, but you do have feeds for people. Also, I recognize you and 'nickpsecurity by names already, by the very virtue of being a frequent visitor (and commenter), so it's not like totally anonymous - you get to talk to the same people over many discussion threads :).

Here's a friendly reminder that the "noprocrast" options in your profile exist. From the FAQ at https://news.ycombinator.com/newsfaq.html:

> If you turn it on you'll only be allowed to visit the site for maxvisit minutes at a time, with gaps of minaway minutes in between. The defaults are 20 and 180, which would let you view the site for 20 minutes at a time, and then not allow you back in for 3 hours.

You can set it to something more extreme, like maxvisit=60 minaway=720, and then it'll only allow you a one-hour session every twelve hours, which in practice usually means you can only go here once per day. Doing this turns HN from a distraction to something you have to consciously choose to visit.

It worked for me, until I got a smartphone ;)

I just simply changed my bookmarks to point to https://news.ycombinator.com/over?points=280 - which gets shaken up by a couple of new stories per day, but doesn't actually change enough to justify visiting every hour.

It's not impossible. I went from a hourly checker to only checking it twice a week. You just need to practice self control and realize most tech news aren't interesting or useful to know.

Interested to know how long your twice a week sessions are and how far you go back in the pages? I come twice a day for 10 mins and then once a week going back to article 90. Total time for the week is just under 3 hours, but I feel I've learned something.

About half an hour on Sunday mornings and 10~ mins the second session, but I'm slowly making that as close to 0 as possible.

One thing that's helping is Lobsters. Lobsters is super slow so if I do make a full switch from HN to that I only need to check it a handful of times a week.

But to me, it's not so much about how much time I spend on the time but rather the why. I simply don't get as much value out of HN as I think I do. Most news are irrelevant and unimportant, and I haven't really learned anything too insightful like others said they have (sadly). Simply put, tech news boards apparently just aren't for me.

What is Lobsters? I'm curious about the thing that's helped you wean yourself off tech news, but googling it hasn't helped.

I'm on both. HN has a more diverse community and array of content. There's just a ton of stuff on here. That can up the noise for many people but one must simply filter it in their head more effectively. I only click on a few links on the front page with occasionally looking at New and 2nd-3rd pages to see if readers and I would benefit from me bumping one up.

Now, Lobste.rs is different. They're a small community with a narrower focus on mostly tech stuff. They have relatively low noise with a preference for deeper insight on tech. You'll see more writeups on algorithms than product releases for instance. They also have an open-source website and open moderation log. A bit radical on occasion like where owner JCS just got rid of downvotes to experiment if upvote-only would keep quality without total censorship.

Definitely check out the articles over there on top of the ones here. The comments especially as people often say something there that someone here overlooked or vice versa.

Most forums ban obvious spam - viagra, porn, etc. But HN bans people for being overly critical, for not agreeing with the groupthink, or perhaps not having enough tact or politeness.

That's not true. I don't like to leave such statements unanswered—the community has a right to know that we don't do these things.

It would be helpful to see the specific links that you're basing this view on, so we could clear them up.

Maybe they did in the past. I haven't seen it since I've been here. The bans I saw made sense. I countered it with detail on Barnacl.es:


If someone has an invite, may I have one? No worries if not. (Sorry for the off-topic spam.)

I can no longer edit my post, but wanted to comment that I just received an invite. Thanks! :)

Sent. If anyone else needs one, ping me @GuiAmbros.


It's dangerous to go alone. Take this: https://news.ycombinator.com/best

It's hilarious that HN conflates popularity with "best".

So even at HN, the most addictive content is considered to have the highest value. Seems…topical.

The way this usually works, at least in comment threads, is that usually upvotes end up being stronger than downvotes. So the most popular thought in the community ends up at the top of the page... and then usually, the most popular counter-argument is its highest child.

It's interesting to see HN debate itself. The asymmetrical karma allocation can be a really interesting factor.

The name of that page goes back close to ten years, when HN was created. That was a time when lots of people had more faith in social forum upvoting than they/we do now.

Hi dang, I could swear I once saw a list of front pages with different algos, but now I can't find it for the life of me. Also, is there a "most commented" or "controversial" page?

It may also be a question of how you use sites like HN. I've found that this site is useful for learning when I simply click on the headlines and ignore the comments. Yes, the comments are informative. On the other hand, I have found that reading comments is a behaviour that I have adopted to procratinate (rather than to gain deeper insight).

I primarily visit HN for the comments. My usage is as follows:

1. Scan headlines for a topic I'm interested in, say, geometric algebra.

2. Rapidly scan the comments for people linking to other media (books, blog posts, libraries, etc.) that are related to geometric algebra.

I get vastly superior pointers to useful material this way than any other approach I've tried, and I'm extremely good at research anyway.

I use Google/FB just for the IM. I rarely ever read status updates.

But when I get frustrated on a problem or am knee deep in technical debt, you can be I'll flip over to Hacker News.

I have quit FB a few times but the reality is that FB Messenger is the main IM platform for many because it works so well going from mobile and computer. I don't use or care for any other features of Facebook.

I also don't bother with Twitter anymore. I still have an account but don't ever open it. Instagram and Snapchat are rather boring for me also.

So while I like social I don't really care for the media.

You can use FB messenger even after deactivating your FB account. But there are still things that can cause you to reactivate your account e.g. accessing two factor settings.

Hacker News doesn't have the churn that means other news sites are always different when you visit them...perhaps you could call that a downside, but I actually really like that aspect.

Worryingly, every time I've checked the admin news updates threads on Reddit, users are complaining that the front page changes too slowly. It does only seem to update about once a day.

The comments are seriously addictive; I wish there was a way to hide 90% of them to make it easier to stop reading.

It barely works but the reason I built www.sagebump.com was not be distracted by a need to visit different social media sites. It also condenses the best to only a handful, so in theory one would only need to spend around 15 mins to get the best of ones own custom feeds, then spend the rest of the day coding. I have only posted this as I believe it is relevant otherwise let me know and I will remove this post. Thanks.

I've rationalized somehow that HN is okay because the content is relevant, insightful, etc.

This has been me for ever so long. Started with /. , with me to this day in the guise of HN and others. The slightest cognitive lull then muscle memory and habit brings me back to the tech news feed.

I'm making an AI to recommend articles so you can check it once a day or get email alerts for ones you want to comment on. Downside is you have to train it.

Will it be able to do something like "send me articles about Ruby on Rails, but only if the author hates Rails"? :)

How far are you? Beta site link?

It may seem trivial, but during the US primary season I had to modify my /etc/hosts file to block several political sites for my own sanity.

Yes, I can very easily `sudo vi /etc/hosts` to undo, but I never did.

Helps that I could really pull it up on my iPhone if I needed, but this way I could focus when I needed to, and if I was on my mobile I was clearly doing other stuff.

HN is problematic because signal/noise ratio is relatively high.

My old strategy for this involved a cronjob to update my host file every five minutes, so I could edit the file and read for a few minutes when I legitimately was waiting on something to compile, but would get yanked away from the browser black hole and back to work in a reasonable amount of time.

Then I got a better job, and now I feel a lot less compulsion to sit and read the internet.

You might try setting the noprocrast flag in your profile. By default, after 20 minutes it'll enforce a 3-hour break.

I only visit https://news.ycombinator.com/best . The articles there don't change every time you press F5.

I use https://freedom.to/ to block HN on my phone and laptop when I need to.

What I found is that blocking completely works less than just delaying the page for a bit with something like https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/waitblock/kcnjfepp...

That way I have enough time to think and question whether I really want to open the page I was about to open, and I don't disable the whole thing if I actually need to visit it.

Thanks for the recommendation, but why is it a subscription service? Does it work like a vpn or something where they host servers to support this kind of traffic blocking?

Ya, that's how they are able to block websites on your phone. You go through their VPN.

+1 - Deleted everything else but HN is sooo good and I can trick myself into it being relevant because it's mostly about the future. :\

Helpfully providing us with an example of survivor bias, though!

> I've recently been finding it really hard to concentrate on my work and I genuinely think this might be the reason. I find myself compulsively opening twitter and tumblr and scrolling through for ages before realising that literally none of it is interesting. I'm just scrolling past brightly coloured images and auto-playing videos while completely distracted and detached from the real world.

I recently solved this problem, yes 'solved' and it worked from day one. Thanks to Cal Newport's ideas.

The trick was this (YMMV, but I believe you sound exactly like me):

Imagine your mind like your desk. Every morning it's empty. (Usually) You wake up you load it up with all sorts of crap to entertain yourself, social media, Reddit, hacker news etc, etc.

By the time you get to work, there is no place to put work stuff on that desk. You try to put work stuff on it, but pretty much the whole desk is filled with Twitter/Tumblr/Facebook shit. So even if you make some space for the work stuff, sooner or later you focus on Tumblr again. Work stuff gets pushed out.

Generally in my case, by 2PM I manage to clear out all the distracting stuff and get focused.

The solution was this: BORE YOURSELF at every available opportunity.

When I start my morning, I refused to pick up my phone and check out social media (usually I would take a 45 minute dump just catching up on stuff posted last night). Sure my morning chores became a bit boring, but I also became more efficient (I started getting to work sooner).

Basically, by the time I get to my desk, I am so bored that the most interesting thing I can do is work. And my work (programming) is a very interesting task, it used to keep me engaged for hours and hours, it's just that Social Media defeated it.

I do check social media. I check it around 2PM after my standup. That 'impulsive' desire to constantly check it is gone. I catch up on all the social media in the evening or at night (but it doesn't create that compulsive pattern anymore.

End result: My productivity has gone up by 5-6 times. I have a performance enhancement story to work on and I managed to fix 6-7 bugs I found during my work, and it turns out that it was a whole team's sprint's work.

A year or so ago I read "The World Beyond Your Head"[0] which also tackles the questions "Where do we direct our attention and why?" Ever since then I've become acutely aware of where I choose to focus my concentration and why.

It's exceedingly difficult to take charge of one's moment-to-moment experience of the world, but in those rare instances when I achieve it it's very rewarding.


A couple years ago, I gave up using my cell phone while on the toilet for Lent. It was surprisingly one of the toughest habits I've ever had to break.

Great story, I like his book as well, but since I suck at putting ideas to work, they are only text for me :(

One thing that I haven't seen anyone commenting is that nowadays Facebook becomes the place where you test ads, write content, become an expert, and get clients... so many folks can't just quit. Heck, I still want to get started on it...

But maybe carrying a dumb phone during the day and coming back to the smartphone during the night is a way to try unplugging for a couple hours.

Facebook's a problem, but aren't there plenty of other things online and on your phone that are just as distracting?

For example, I waste at least 2 hours a day on the weekend on HN. I learn a little bit, but not as much as if I had been actively trying to learn a new technology or topic. Also on HN, I get frustrated with others' responses, so it affects me mentally as well. If anything is engineered to be addictive for those in tech, it's HN.

Also, news. I can read news sites for hours. Constantly going back to the same headlines, waiting for something new.

And games. I have a handful of games I'll waste time on.

And deal websites. I want to save money.

The only way to stop all of it? Stop using my phone and computer.

Also TV series. They have taken over movies (and other activities like reading).

In fact, most of them are mostly not series any more: they are serials. That's infinitely more addictive.

In a series you can watch a random episode, almost or fully independent from the other ones (so you don't care so much about missing one episode now and then), that has an introduction, a progression and a conclusion. The continuous background is weak, sometimes almost non-existent, just to give a little bit of matter to the characters.

In a serial, you cannot miss an episode because it's just one long story cut in chapters, and the episode theme is more and more secondary nowadays. When you start a serial, you're hooked, you need to see all episode to be able to follow (and even if you happen to get bored, you want to finish the season to know the final word). Also, instead of cooling down after the climax as in a series, each episode ends with a cliffhanger ; that means your consumption becomes compulsive, you want another episode right away, or as soon as possible.

In fact every 'cultural' production nowadays aims at binge consumption and is tailored for this unique purpose.

Yes, Netflix is really very addictive. And sometimes peer pressure puts on you an expectation to be always 'on'/watching something or the other. The best solution is, of course, to read the Wikipedia plotline of the series in 5 minutes and save yourself tens of hours in the future.

>I agree with the sentiment elsewhere in these comments that the solution isn't to completely delete your accounts (I think they can have some value when used in moderation)

If social media really is addictive, then moderation might not work. Most alcoholics aren't capable of having just one drink, most smokers aren't capable of having just one cigarette. Absolute prohibitions are cognitively much easier than moderation.

But most people are not alcoholics, and are capable of having an occasional drink. Social media could also be like that.

One reason I do not wish to close my Facebook account is for the groups and events. Facebook Timeline is not something I look at daily, but rather once or twice a week, to find upcoming events I might be interested in, particularly ones in which people I know have already expressed an interest.

When being on Facebook becomes an activity in itself, then I think it becomes problematic.

Facebook has an events app that cuts timeline and profiles and pages. Deleting the main app for this totally isolated that usefulness for me.

You may find this article interesting that criticizes the abstinence-based approach of Alcoholics Anonymous. Research has shown that cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing and medication to control withdrawal symptoms is more effective for a large population than absolute prohibition. In fact, I wonder if there are medications that address withdrawal symptoms from social media?


I'd have to wonder how medication plus prohibition would work. AA is more than simple prohibition though. It's a program to help people come to grips with the negative impact addiction has had on their lives while helping them to work to clean up the mistakes. I think it's harder to measure the impact vs sheer statistics because people often talk about hitting rock bottom before they go to AA. Rock bottom usually means your life is at a point where it's broken, you are broken, relationships are broken and you feel like you can't ever be forgiven for what you've done.

AA helps you rebuild your life. It's a whole lot more than just coping with addiction.

At some point over the last couple of years AA started coming under attack for some inexplicable reason. There's a lot more to it than just statistics.

Most likely a reaction to how dominant AA recovery programs are for those without means to afford one-on-one counseling combined with the religious overtones.

Thanks for sharing that article. We just covered moderation approaches in one of my clinical psych courses and they really can be very effective.

One interesting finding is that the sense of self-efficacy gained through moderation makes dealing with relapses or setbacks easier when compared to the all or nothing approaches.

The weirdest thing about AA, to me, is that it is supposed to be about not letting alcohol control your life, but then it prescribes that you devote every free waking minute to thinking about not thinking about alcohol.

I met a number of people that had just traded one addiction for another. They were AA-meeting-addicts.

I've had great success with using https://freedom.to/ to block social media from my phone and laptop during periods of time when I want to focus.

Actually I've found that by setting up a blocker on my devices that I can toggle on and off at will is enough.

When I start the workday, I toggle it on, and every time I try to load my social stuff (HN included) it puts up a big red warning.

I found that the majority of my wasted time was because I impulsively opened a tab to somewhere during like 10 seconds of downtime while waiting for something. And having this little block in place stopped it in its tracks.

Will you share what you're using as a blocker and on which device?

It's an extension for chrome that I'm using, as I tend to not have a problem with my phone during work.

I'm not near my PC to be able to say which one exactly, but there are several made specifically for this kind of thing.

Agreed. I use rescue time and it has a feature to block distracting sites. Very helpful to train yourself to stop being distracted.

But "social" was the whole mantra of business, a decade or two ago. Still is... "open space!"

We are all going to "collaborate" endlessly into ever higher heights of achievement.

"Social" was being integrated, per force, into the workforce.

And... real productivity dropped, and people became stressed out.

Facebook et al. aren't at odds with the contemporary corporate workplace. They just exemplify what a crap policy it is.

Imagine being forced to be on Facebook 8, 10, 12 hours a day, while trying to actually accomplish something. That's what much of the contemporary workplace has become at major corporations with which I'm familiar.

Am I bitter? A little... more than. Because they kept telling my my trouble concentrating in such environments was my fault.

Whatever you think of social media, such workplaces have not earned the right to express any opinion on the matter.

A couple of companies I have worked for have tried company social networking e.g. with Yammer or Tibbr. It doesn't work because companies are fundamentally not social. Like, am I suppose to follow my manager, and his manager, and her manager? Do I have to "like" what they say even if I know it's complete nonsense? Will it be noticed if I'm the only one that doesn't? Can I ever post an honest status, or comment on anything? Is my "friends" list being used to judge me? Does my "engagement" with this project, which was mandated by the CEO, affect my annual appraisal, because you can bet it's tracked.

And it doesn't help that the software itself is universally bad, if it were ever exposed to the public internet where people had a choice to use it or not, it would sink without trace...

I suspect OP was making fun of the open office fad where interrupting my debugging flow by hearing the finance clerks arguing about workload when posting accounts receivable forms or whatever will magically make my code 100x better. Or if I stand up and read from the book of Knuth on the topic of the evils of the bubblesort, that will motivate the salespeople to sell sell sell. Or at those open offices that are as quiet as libraries used to be, the off the charts sarcasm level displays that nobody works together with anyone at all, which is kinda sad and sterile working environment.

At a large company I worked at they tried discussion software but once the shine was gone, out of 150K people you'd have like 10 people who actually posted and on this web discussion board thingy and the content was all filler. Sometimes funny filler, but filler none the less. Imagine the sadness of a HN with only 10 participants.

" It doesn't work because companies are fundamentally not social."

I really have to disagree with this. Social media can be essential in a company that is widely geographically distributed and needs to collaborate, such as a technical sales field with different offices and R&D groups. Really depends on incentives.

> Maybe deleting the native apps and using the webapps will raise the barrier to entry high enough that I'll only use them when there's actually something I want to do on them.

That's worked pretty well for me. Also check out Kill News Feed and Kill Tweet Stream to avoid distraction if you need to use eg Facebook events or Twitter DMs.




> Social media weakens this skill because it’s engineered to be addictive.

Absolutely. App companies like FB and Twitter are on a constant quest to eat up as much of your time as possible, in pursuit of metrics like "daily active users" (they want you there daily) and "average session time" (they want you there as long as possible).

Ultimately, they're maximizing ad revenue. An hour of your time spent feed scrolling is worth about 10 cents to Facebook.


Years ago I caught myself watching Entertainment Tonight this was around or a bit past the Mary Hart and John Tesh days. I caught myself with a smile but my eyes following along if that makes sense I call it the Joker smile it was terrifying to think what I had become. So I stopped watching any stupid tabloid shows outright starting that at that moment.

The other day I realized that social media is essentially the same thing tabloid junk. Only now in the social media we choose to watch it we seek it out and then comment on it we become part of it.

Yes. If somebody would have told us 20 years ago that we would all have a TV-set on our office desks today, we wouldn't have believed them. But the reality is that we indeed have a good equivalent of it, and with highly addictive content.

I was always leery of Facebook and what it did with data. After the Snowden revelations, I only used LinkedIn for career related reasons. I make sure to never post too personal, identifiable information on forums. My real name returns google results, but they are very sparse. It's crazy out there and the consequences are real.

As for the premise of the article, I can see how your brain craves immediate relief from boredom. That's really what it is, right? My work is fairly interesting to me, so I've never had the overwhelming and constant desire to distract myself from it. Perhaps a few articles here and there for a mental break.

> I've recently been finding it really hard to concentrate on my work and I genuinely think this might be the reason. I find myself compulsively opening twitter and tumblr and scrolling through for ages before realising that literally none of it is interesting.

LeechBlock has helped me out of this habit. I'd recommend giving it a shot.

There are far too many distractions online not necessarily social media. In the past it was irc and later forums. I find instant messengers particularly distracting, even if you put all on silent mode sooner or later you will want to check if you have unread messages.

cough Slack cough

The counter argument is that social media being designed to distract you makes it good training for your concentration. You don't need to avoid grocery stores that sell chocolate to stop getting fat, just get more disciplined.

> Social media weakens this skill because it’s engineered to be addictive.

Might as well add (modern?) gaming to the list—it has the exact same property.

..and movies, books and TV?

No: all of those are "single use" items, i.e. you typically only consume them once.

Games and social media, OTOH, are designed for continuous consumption without end. Here, "being addictive" is basically the only thing that matters (and in fact, is the only variable companies actually measure).

A problem with that model is little kids do what feels good and what feels good is watching the same TV cartoon many times. Once they're socialized into adult life they stop. I distinctly remember when little kid cartoons (tom and jerry type stuff) became boring and repetitive to me so I stopped while my kid sister was still cool with watching endlessly repeated stories.

And at the other end of the age scale, my MiL watched (watches) MASH (a 70s sitcom about the Korean war, which sounds improbable but was actually hilarious due to good writers) and she never, ever laughs, quiet as a church service, but I'd LMAO at a funny line I'd never heard before, and her entire family would stare at me like I'm insane. "But don't you get it, it was hilarious, Radar compared the other guy's wife to ..." and they'd just shush me like in church. I'm not entirely sure what she's thinking when she sees episode #24 for the three hundredth time. I should ask her over the holidays...

Something that both anecdotes fit is the model of not being in adult society or caring much about adult opinions.

This is why I've stuck with single player games. Aside from a summer where I spent 12 hours a day on Counter Strike, I only play single player games enough to just finish the main story (don't care much about unlockables or anything crazy). I finish them and that's it!

I've never actually played an MMORPG. I avoided EverQuest in University when everyone was playing it. I never got into WoW (I did have a friend who lost his virginity to a girl he met on WoW so...I guess it helps some people).

I feel religiously opposed to them now when I see how involved people get into those games. I'm all okay with Quake/CounterStrike/Left4Dead type games where you shoot-em-up with a team for a bit and then it's over. Those are good breaks when you've been on a project for hours.

Movies and TV yes (there's ample research to show it actually rots your brain). Books, no. There's also ample research to show it has several benefits, even if you're reading trash. The medium is the message, as Marshal McLuhan would say.

I just "deactivated" Facebook and I think things are improving as well.

As for twitter, I want to use it as a personal brand vehicle, that and my quora page. So while I agree that it's poison half the time, it's also a great way to engage people and discuss topics that can lead to partnerships/work in the future.

"personal brand vehicle"

It's hard to find this done well. I tried this myself on Twitter for a few months and realized that, even though I wasn't saying so explicitly, it was bland pathetic performative "I'm an entrepreneur, thinker, innovator, creator, TEDx Speaker" nonsense.

I have a legitimate question. If you delete your Facebook account, how does that affect your OAuth logins on other websites? I've been tempted to delete my Facebook account but there are unknowns about how that would play out in the social login space, so I'd be interested in your thoughts.

I don't use OAuth ever, because:


1. log in once; be logged in everywhere

2. no password manager required because you have only one (or maybe a few) logins

disadvantages (I'll just keep numbering to give it unique IDs):

3. if the provider is down, you can't login

4. the provider knows when and where you log in

5. if you decide to delete your account at the provider, you can't log in anymore

6. if the provider decides to delete your account because, say, you bought a fake Nexus (or what was the story recently?) or because you forgot to pay or just because there is a glitch on their end, you've got a problem

7. if your account gets hacked, everything got hacked.

I just don't see how that tiny bit of convenience weighs up to all the issues of having a SPOF whose trustworthiness is questionable to begin with.

I can only speak for my own site. We don't receive any notifications from third-parties when accounts are closed. If you don't login again, you can use password reset with your email address to get a password for your account. Which email address depends on the primary address set at Facebook.

For some reason I never used FB for other accounts - I always used Twitter or Google, so it wasn't a problem for me. I guess if I deleted my Google account a lot of things (GitHub, Freenom, Soundcloud) would go down too.

IMO distraction from your work where how interesting your task at hand vs immediate facebook check.I would relax and get to see what I am doing and how its interesting/fullfilling/fun/silly etc and lets the grip of immersion take over you. So to reiterate is I don't think social media is distracting but rather working lives of most office workers aren't as exciting(like friends windsurfing) and social media can be a demotivational poison at that point. I am guilty of letting social media reign over me on bad days, but on really good days it is the task at hand has control of my attention and rest of facebook/tv/movies/games noise has selfish demanting and yet weak overtones...

> As for Facebook, I deleted that a few months ago and my quality of life instantly increased.

Except for the part where the addicts are confused why you aren't on facebook.

But I think its becoming common enough now that you aren't so much of an aberration

> Maybe deleting the native apps and using the webapps will raise the barrier to entry high enough that I'll only use them when there's actually something I want to do on them.

+1. I have found that switching to the Dillo web browser (with CSS and at times even images disabled) has considerably decreased the time I spend on Facebook. There was also a command line client for FB, but iirc it's not maintained any more.

So, yes, use an "ugly" browser and you're good. :-)

I'm curious, what is it in the human psyche that causes us to have such a desire to stay plugged in to social media? Especially when the content we go through usually only ends up white noise to us.

All the positive reinforcement of gossip, with none of the historical negative connotations because of the new name.

As with all renaming strategies, eventually the new name gets enough tarnish that its either given up, gets yet another new name. There was a pretty concerted push a few years ago to rename everything online as "viral" regardless of the original source and meaning of that name. Wasn't time yet, but soon enough "social media" will be for old people but the cool kids will continue doing the same old thing with a new name.

It's a combination of 2 very primitive (and hence innate) human instinct - Anxiety and Pleasure.

Anxiety - It's also called FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). If all our friends and family are on Facebook and we don't constantly login and read the feeds, we feel like we are "missing out" on all the fun and exicting stuff going on around us.

Pleasure - Social Media feeds our ego and give us pleasure when we post pics and "updates" and then few minutes later, a RED Icon notification pops up showing that so and so liked your post, commented on it etc. There is a reason why Facebook has no DISLIKE button. Don't forget 'Zuck' is a Psychology Minor.

Related Reading: "What is driving people to constantly check in with social media" => https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/rewired-the-psychology-...

We used to evolve in situations where information was scarce and potentially relevant to our lives, so we would crave for every last bit of information in order to find the lion before it finds us.

The longer version (9 minutes) of this argument: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYYuiWP0IpA

As mammals we are fundamentally social creatures, and if we can't socialize then we become anxious. It's built in - you need to be a part of the tribe/pack/village/whatever because over many years of evolution, going it alone wasn't a successful survival/reproductive strategy.

There are hacks to mitigate some of the negative effects, which pre-date FB et al. You might carry a photo of a loved one, and that's enough to trigger that part of your brain that craves contact. You might have a pet or a "companion animal" as they are called these days. Children (and some adults) have meta-pets - stuffed toy animals.

FB quite deliberately leverages these urges - it is designed to trigger all the fear-of-being-outside-the-tribe that evolution gave you. Why does it tell you that all your friends are at an event, say? To make you feel like you should have been paying more attention to FB so you could have gone too..

It's the same reason why kids were passing notes in school instead of paying attention. It's no longer called socializing/talking with friends. Its now social media/playing with your phone.

People want to feel like they are part of a group.

Smartphones make the problem 10x worse for me. It virtually calls out to me from my left pocket to check for updates.

I'm on vacation now and am experimenting with reducing my phone time dramatically (about 10 minutes a day to respond to texts). I don't carry the phone around with me at all times. It's great -- mentally liberating and actually allows me to completely space out staring off into the distant landscapes, or completely focus on reading/writing.

I'm thinking about doing the same, but I need to carry my phone with me to listen to my music at work. I'm investigating MP3 players, but the field is disappointingly sparse these days (which is to be expected since everyone listens to music on their smartphone now).

The very last sentence really resonated with me.

> Sounds pretty eccentric, doesn't it? It always will when you're trying to solve problems where there are no customs yet to guide you. Maybe I can't plead Occam's razor; maybe I'm simply eccentric. But if I'm right about the acceleration of addictiveness, then this kind of lonely squirming to avoid it will increasingly be the fate of anyone who wants to get things done. We'll increasingly be defined by what we say no to.

My way out is the self control app on mac. I have fb, twitter and reddit blocked using that for 24hrs, then visit fb and twitter for 30 mins when the 24 hrs is done and then call the self control app again for the next 24 hrs. As for the top hackernews i subscribe to The Macro weekly newsletter, saves me from HN addiction as well.

randomness is very addicting, even if most stuff is not interesting, the few interesting parts keep you coming back.

I removed social apps from my phone ages ago, and turned off notifications most places (especially slack which is massively distracting). It has helped, a bit.

I do still check hn more than I should...might have to work on that one next.

Instead of deleting or otherwise cold-turkeying, I've been experimenting with freedom.to to manage my social media usage. It has been pretty effective so far, though the mobile experience is still somewhat lacking.

If that was really valued, then you wouldn't have your day cut up with meetings working in an open office either.

i just put together a small script if you're interested!


vi /etc/hosts facebook.com www.facebook.com m.facebook.com twitter.com m.twitter.com www.twitter.com

I found that really helps.

try medtitation

>I agree with the sentiment elsewhere in these comments that the solution isn't to completely delete your accounts (I think they can have some value when used in moderation), but rather to change the way I use them.

I would hope the solution to your problem is not for me to delete my accounts.

Your problem sounds like you're following people with weak content. Follow new people and stop following (or make better) the weak.

More importantly social media is bad for your mental health. It hits the brain in many of the same ways as the 'news' and those intentionally boring phone games. It causes dopamine dysregulation which leads to a dependency. Consider the anxiety you feel if you need to go to the bathroom and cannot find your phone. This dopamine dysregulation destroys your mood and motivation.

Being social is a good thing. However companies have figured out they need addictive properties in order to be successful. I previously worked on optimizing companies for user engagement and the addictive properties naturally fall out of the process. If social media satiates your desires you will actually use them less. Think about it; why are your keys always in the last place you look? Because once you find them you stop looking. If you want to keep people on your site you hide their keys. People love a challenge and will be even happier when they find them.

It's particularly bad with modern (low information) news media. I'm a compulsive news junkie* so I have to avoid the news in order to get anything done. I quit facebook and google over their insistence on pushing 'news'. It's junk food for the brain. It's low information and only gives an illusion of being informed. E.g. the recent election.

* Note: I consider HN to be social 'media' news and I am aware that I'm here 'chipping'. I do so intentionally in effort to avoid fettishising vices. Plus HN is as close as I get to an online group of peers. I only use HN after self-flagellating while repeatedly muttering "the flesh is weak".

>Consider the anxiety you feel if you need to go to the bathroom and cannot find your phone.

Is this a real thing?

A thread on reddit about just that very topic gained front-page visibility and a lot of "I'm actually doing this right now" comments.

EDIT - I actually found it, "Reddit is probably the world's largest group of people that communicate while shitting.": https://www.reddit.com/r/Showerthoughts/comments/5dqufr/redd...

It is. I have a mild case for it, especially when I go for "the longer stay".

But then again, the smartphone simply is that important for many of us. For me, it's a device that's always with me, second only to my own clothes. I may leave a wallet behind, but for sure I'm taking my phone with me. I don't usually think consciously why is that, but some reasons would be:

- the phone is what enables telepathy; if someone wants to reach you with their thoughts over large distances, you have to have the phone with you to receive it (and to respond)

- the Internet-enabled phone also lets me look up answers to random questions that pop up in my head; since the questions pop up randomly and either go away or take real estate in the brain until answered, I want to be able to answer them ASAP anywhere I am and whatever I'm doing

People used to read newspapers while sitting on the crapper. In the 90s it wasn't uncommon to go to the bathroom in someone's house and there to be a stack of magazines on the windowsill...

Bathroom time is already wasted, so it's a guilt free opportunity to check your feed.

Unless you spend 5 minutes finding the phone first.

Depends on how long I need to be in there.

>More importantly social media is bad for your mental health. [...] Being social is a good thing.

This is all that I need to have learned to quit* social media.

*I still use a Facebook, but I don't post anything, and I don't read anything. It is handy for the messenger though to keep in contact with friends that you might see again, such as when travelling.

You can 'deactivate' your Facebook account and remain active on Messenger, FYI. I did this.

Interesting, I actually didn't know that. I'd still need to be able to add people, I'll check that out thanks.

>Think about it; why are your keys always in the last place you look? Because once you find them you stop looking. If you want to keep people on your site you hide their keys.

That is actually very interesting analogy! And when I think about my facebook browsing habits, it only makes sense. Of course it has a flow an rhythm. Something interesting I engage with, a bunch of filler I scroll through, another interesting post. If all that is interesting to me is crammed into the top of the page, that would drop the metrics. Less vertical space used, less ads, less time on site (biggie with investors, I'm sure). Probably get fatigued much faster too. Consume even less interesting stuff than the "long format". I wonder if it is really beneficial (at least to them) in the long term or it is one of those things not worth maximizing (metrics vs. reasons [1]).

Do you have any interesting reading/watching/listening material from your old jobs? What are you up to these days?

[1] http://nxhx.org/maximizing/

Thanks. I post stories about it secretly on HN through anonomous accounts. I mostly get downvoted as it's usually controversial and counterintuitive. It is to be expected.

I don't teach 'defence against the dark arts' as the techniques are more likely to be exploited if more widely known and I'd rather not help it spread. Thankfully we're already seeing a cultural pushback with people logging off. I expect to see much more of that in the future as society gets better at understanding addiction and individuals get better at optimizing for their own happiness.

As for me; I have my own software product company now and I am free to optimise for the user. I don't need the money but I do like making the world a better place.

Why social media only?

After being a news addict for years, I've decided to not only limit my social media posts (and reading) down to zero, but also the amount of time I spend on the daily news sites (NYT, Guardian, Politico etc). Instead I read media that operates on a longer cycles like weekly (Economist, NewYorker) and longer (Foreign Affairs, Private Eye)

Its been an interesting experiment: most "news" is just content that is ultimately inconsequential, discussing ephemeral events that will be forgotten by the next news cycle.

However, the weeklies and the monthlies, because they have to edit what they write about, do a great job of filtering out the fluff and giving me a better perspective of what mattered that week/month.

I've found I still know what I need to know, suffer much less distractions, and more time to read books (amazing invention btw!)

This is a super interesting approach and I really like the sound of it. I might just try switching to it sometime! Thanks for sharing :)

Side note: it sounds like adding the occasional dose of /r/tldr + /r/outoftheloop would add quite nicely to the "filtering".

It was hard at first breaking the habit, developed over years, of opening up a few tabs with news sites each morning over breakfast. I still occasionally scan the headlines, which is enough to know what is roughly going on.

News is essentially free (and commoditized). What I value is thoughtful analysis and good interviews; Andrew Marr's interview with Marine Le Pen being a recent case in point.

Very interesting. Makes me wonder if the same techniques which get people hooked to current forms of distracting social media could be used to encourage better habits, focus etc?

Have see some humorous attempts such as http://www.chorewars.com/ and http://code.rpgify.com/ but usually with a focus on motivating groups of people.

About five years ago I bumped into an old friend of mine that I hadn't seen since around 2005. Despite not keeping in contact physically, we both knew everything about each other's lives. It was great to reconnect, but we didn't have the typical reward that comes with the rediscovery. I knew what he was doing for work, the projects he had going on the side, etc.

Tracking my friends stripped a lot of the romance, joy. and mystery out of reconnecting.

Around the same time I got into a new group of friends that were all about their 'personal brand.' Every occasion was started with a good ten minutes of silence while they checked-in to Yelp, Foursquare, snapped photos of the venue / table / food, and tweeted bullshit along the lines of 'having the time of my life!' -- I spent the time looking for typos and leading errors on the menus. It was exhausting. Everybody was there, but nobody was present. Even the meal itself was dull because of the endless obsession with creating something it wasn't.

I never bought into those bullshit games of 'put your phone in the middle of the table' or whatever. If you're a typical human being, my expectation is that you can silence your phone and have the slightest bit of restraint to avoid looking at it every few minutes. I understand if there's an emergency or whatever, but otherwise, keep it on vibrate and be done.

Around this time I completely disabled all notifications and the phone never made a peep.

A few years after that I starting tracking how many images and tweets I was reading vs enjoying. It was about one in twenty or so.

Examining my own tweets and other contributions to social media had me realizing that I was as social as a guy at a party shouting opinions over the music to a room full of people doing the same. It wasn't social, and it was barely media.

I decided to purge the accounts and start from scratch -- and will be doing so every year or so. Starting fresh is nice, but I find that I rarely have anything of actual value to contribute.

I've avoided facebook for years and only use it for events. Instagram is all kids. Twitter is all business and 'I'm speaking at x conference --- here's a link to an instagram post of a photo of a slide in my presentation taken from the back row'. I've avoided the graphic design sites like dribbble where most 'portfolios' aren't filled with client work or art, just 99designs level work that is good, but irrelevant... and the list goes on.

Social media isn't completely dead, but for me, I checked out a long time ago.

I'm hoping that the next wave will be a hybrid of twitter, meetup, foursquare, and tinder --- an app where you check into a location to say 'I'm here, who wants to hang out?' and you can hang out with some strangers for a time.

Thanks for sharing, that was very insightful. I find myself being increasingly annoyed being around people who are continuously tapping their phone, taking pictures, spending minutes choosing filters and thinking of cliché captions, list goes on. They aren't present, often giving wrong replies to my questions.

I don't know why, I find people doing the same but playing games instead are less annoying.

It feels like a lot of people are creating an archive of a life they wanted to live, but didn't.

An ex of mine has a young boy who she treated more as a mannequin than anything. She'd get angry if I didn't take a Vogue-level portrait of her posing with an ice cream cone. It was exhausting --- and to what end? To get a higher Klout score?

Big whoop.

Online social apps should be focused on improving the offline world.

I've read the whole article, but this is where I should have stopped.

> I’ve never had a social media account.

He basically summarized that procrastination is harmful and social media is to blame. He doesn't really share anything I haven't known as a social media addict. Kinda like saying to a smoker that smoking tobacco causes cancer. I know that, what now? I tried shutting down social media sites with plugins, blocking sites in the hostfile and other slow to circumvent things. They kinda worked, sometimes never. I also noticed that if a site gets shut down, something new emerges that replace it.

This is something you have to deal with, regulate it. If you find yourself constantly opening FB, Twitter or whatever your addiction is, then it signals that something you are having problems with something you should be really doing.

I actually think that quote is interesting for a different reason. First he says:

> I’ve never had a social media account.


>I think many more people should follow my lead and quit these services

You can't quit something if you never started using it.

I think what he meant was, be like me, and to do that, quit those services.

My take is that this article is also really poorly written. The overly formal tone and extended sentence structure makes it seem like the author is trying too hard to sound smart. He's doing this especially annoying type of bad writing where he thinks the tone he would use for an academic research paper read by one professor is a good fit for an opinion piece that will be seen by thousands.

> There are many issues with social media, from its corrosion of civic life to its cultural shallowness, but the argument I want to make here is more pragmatic: You should quit social media because it can hurt your career."

> Perhaps more important, however, than my specific objections to the idea that social media is a harmless lift to your career, is my general unease with the mind-set this belief fosters.

Just talk to me like a person! Unless you're Slavoj Žižek you should probably go for something more accessible and conversational.

You think that sounds like a research paper? What field are you reading research papers in?!

For what it's worth, the author of the article has written multiple best-selling books for popular audiences.

Exactly. Whenever I increase my consumption of social media, it's because I'm doing something I'd rather not be doing at work. Even these little 5-10sec wait times make me open a new tab and check HN.

I approach social media (twitter in particular) this way: “try to be a good neuron”.

Meaning: social media forms a global hive mind. It determines what a lot of people see and hear about the world. Witness the flare up recently over the influence of “fake news” going viral.

A neuron's role, as one tiny piece of a brain, a neural network, or, for my purposes, a hive mind, is to take in a number of inputs and filter them, firing occasionally to convey some distillation of the inputs received.

Anyone who reshares highly inaccurate or incendiary content is being a bad neuron.

If instead you gather a range of news and opinion from a variety of sources and then, being very selective, reshare the one or two things each day (or week) with the best combinations of reputability, newsworthiness, timeliness, importance to current problems society is facing, and exploration of new ideas, then you're being a good neuron.

This in my opinion is the best use of publicly shared social media. If lots of people did this the world would be better off.

There may be career risk in sharing things related to politics, but that's a risk I'm willing to take. Without the freedom to do that, I might as well be in a repressive totalitarian society, and now more than ever that is something we should fight to prevent.

The general message is good: stop procrastinating and actually work (which is what I should be doing instead of mulling over the wording of this comment). The way it is written, however, is less than ideal because it has entirely too many unsupported claims. Without evidence it isn't a solid argument.

For example: "My second objection concerns the idea that social media is harmless. Consider that the ability to concentrate without distraction on hard tasks is becoming increasingly valuable in an increasingly complicated economy. Social media weakens this skill because it’s engineered to be addictive. The more you use social media in the way it’s designed to be used — persistently throughout your waking hours — the more your brain learns to crave a quick hit of stimulus at the slightest hint of boredom."

I know it is a newspaper article and not an academic paper but I still need evidence to make me believe these claims are true. I've read people claiming that we are becoming more distracted but I haven't read that the ability to not be distracted is becoming more valuable. Similarly, while I've read claims that social media is addictive but not that it is engineered to be so.

> I've read claims that social media is addictive but not that it is engineered to be so.

Recommend reading up on the "Hook Model" - http://www.nirandfar.com/hooked - or watch this video - https://youtu.be/oQBsnSC_TRM - the techniques for building addictive products are well known, with a history that goes back to Las Vegas and the gambling industry.

Most social media companies - with the exception of one or two like Zynga - of course aren't overly announcing "we're building stuff to get you addicted" but their business depends on audience numbers so guess what: try searching LinkedIn jobs for "Facebook" and "psychology" and it's pretty clear

Rather like alcohol. Universal social lubricant. Popular even in places where it is banned. People complain about it being used noisily in public by young people, especially women, but it may be the lonely older people at home whose use is more problematic. Causes problems for people who don't indulge and feel left out. Associated with long-term health risks including suicidal ideation.

You probably shouldn't indulge at work, but in some careers it may effectively be required.

Most people learn moderation, but some may have to cut themselves off.

I found this hard truth by myself. I noticed how my attention spans were decreasing. I've always been a really distracted person, but social media made it worst.

I ended up adding Facebook, Twitter,9gag, Reddit and other sites to my /etc/hosts ( Was the only way to fix it.

While I work I leave my phone at a distant table, with notifications turned down. The only thing that I get are phone calls.

I remember Simon Sinek saying something like: "if there's a person that the first thing he does when he wakes up in the morning is drinking a glass of whiskey, you'd say he's an alcoholic". What does that make you if the first thing you do when you wake up is checking Facebook?

I'm not a big fan of social media, but the argument here seems specious.

Here's another way to put it - "If the first thing a person does when they get up is eat, you'd say they're a glutton". True?

(Or indeed "if the first thing a person does when they get up is go to the toilet, you'd say they're incontinent.")

The "first thing in the morning" idea is pulled from the CAGE assessment for addiction, as the "E" which stands for "eye-opener", the others being "cut down", "annoyance" and "guilt" https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/johns_hopkins_healthcare/dow...

You're right that this one thing alone doesn't spell addiction, but if someone talked about how they should use the bathroom less, felt bad about how many times a day they went, and annoyed everyone by the bathroom constantly being occupied and the person being absent/late due to their use, in addition to using it first thing in the morning, then... maybe they're addicted to social media and using the bathroom as a way to get their fix ;)

Thanks for sharing that link. The test seems to be setting the bar pretty darn low, however. It's enough that you think you should be doing less of something, and others have criticized you about it to the point of annoying you. That includes things I would put in the category of bad habits rather than clinically actionable disorders.

Heh, well put!

Is "eating" the first thing you do in the morning? Would it be ok to leave a sandwich in the table next to the bed to take a bite as soon as you wake up? Of course this is a matter of opinion. I don't want to get too picky about the details. I used to wake up and check Facebook right away, and I considered it not to be really healthy. But again, just my preference.

> to my /etc/hosts ( Was the only way to fix it.

I like that fix! I tried to limit myself awhile ago by getting a chrome plugin to limit my access to only lunchtime... but I would simply get around it by opening firefox instead :(

> What does that make you if the first thing you do when you wake up is checking Facebook?

Under 30?

More like 25-35. I'm a high school teacher and most of my current crop of students spend virtually no time on Facebook.

Twitter and Snapchat, on the other hand....

Is twitter still heavily used by teenagers? I didn't know that, thanks for the tip. I did know Snapchat was standard. And also Instagram, right?

(I feel old)

I'm also feeling at old (at 27), but I would guess that they use Twitter to follow their celebrities, while using Snapchat and Instagram to connect to each other.

Social media does one thing really really well. It makes the maintenance of weak social connections really really efficient. Secondarily, it makes the reestablishment of weak social connections and the establishment of new weak social connections very low cost.

Facebook is full of old people because they have more weak connections, while my boy doesn't use a social media platform because in his words, "I have high school"...I'd asked him about it just this week.

What social media might give the author is the ability to continue their relationship with their editor's assistant over the next twenty years as their careers progress and paths diverge and perhaps the editor's assistant becomes an editor in their own right. Sure, TANSTAAFL. But it points both ways.

It has helped me vicariously reconnect with old schoolmates.

Why throw the baby out with the bathwater?

What I did was I've unsubscribed from all people and pages on Facebook, unsubscribed from all Reddit subs, and unsubscribed from all YouTube channels. In the end, I've learned to stop visiting facebook.com, since all I was seeing was an empty page, but at the same time I avoided giving up my network, and I can still check up on people when I remember about them, I can keep using Messenger and I can keep using Facebook as an identity provider on other websites. Not to mention that this way I don't have to throw out years of stuff generated by me (which can be painful with photos, especially for a data hoarder like me). Same goes for Reddit and YouTube (I keep my comment and post history, the ability to participate in discussions, my uploaded videos, and more).

For Hacker News, which is too valuable to me as a knowledge expanding tool, I did something else: I've started using the "top 10" section on hckrnews.com. I can keep checking it however many times I want, but I'll get stuck in at most 10 comment threads per day, which I consider to be a reasonable compromise (this thread being one of them </meta>).

Never used Twitter, but I suppose something similar can be accomplished by muting all the accounts you're following.


There's also the newsletter.

I have a buddy who refuses to open hackernews on his computer. Instead he waits until Friday and reads the newsletter.

I disagree that you should quit everything entirely. You can be an occasional Facebook user. I check it a few times a week to see what friends up to and it's not a major distraction to my life. It's become a social hub, a way to organize events that not having one makes you "that guy", a pain to invite to parties, a pain to get a hold of. You can have a Facebook and use it as a tool rather than an addiction. Everything in moderation.

This. For a lot of people FB etc are treated as 'all or nothing' but it doesn't have to be like that. Just like alcohol or whatever drug you prefer doesn't have to mean getting wasted every single day. Couple of times a year is fun as well, if not more fun.

Whatever the author claims about social media ('corrosion of civic life and cultural shallowness', for one) to me sounds like thinking too much like any other standard social media target but with some clicking around and reflection you can change it to work pretty well for you (at least on FB). Sure I do get some crap but most has been filtered out after a while and it now works extremely well for me: mainly for events/band info (most forums I used to frequent for e.g. the goa/squat scene only have a fraction of all parties these days but most is on FB now), news for some particular stuff I care about, group chat for setting up meetings etc. Used this way it also doesn't hurt my carreer any more than anything else on the internet: before FB I spent time frequenting many different forums and news sites and chatting on IRC during work hours. Part of that just got swapped for something else.

I keep my Facebook open for the events and messaging, but use the Newsfeed Eradicator extension to remove even the temptation to scroll endlessly. I live/work around DC, and 50% or more posts I see are political in nature. I'd lose my mind if I spent even a few minutes going through that.

I agree. You have to separate out the Newsfeed from Facebook's other features. Its messaging app is pretty good. The "networking" features that let you stay in touch with people is great. But the Newsfeed, with its constant dribble of garbage and the constant temptation to contribute, is the problem.

Dude I had no idea this was a thing! Just installed it!!!

I check it once every other month or when I need to interact with someone who uses Facebook. The idea of endlessly scrolling through status updates is bizarre to me though.

Yeah, I always find these posts to be like an alchoholic telling everyone they need to stop drinking because it destroys your life. This makes sense, because it did destroy that person's life; however, lots of people are able to use alchohol responsibly. The key is knowing which type of person you are.

This article reads very much like me, a non-drinker, telling you why you shouldn't drink. I've never tried alcohol, but I've heard plenty of bad things about it, and here's a list of them! It's addictive, you know! Messes with the dopamine system!

I do consider social media addictive. But adults can usually handle addictive substances. We just have to know our limits, and cut ourselves off if needed. There's really no need for 21st-century temperance activists preaching its evils.

The problem is that most people don't even realize that social media is an addictive substance.

I agree. It would be great if as a society we handled social media (and other addictive experiences) the same way we handle drugs and gambling: adults only, know your limits, here's help getting clean. Instead we have kids obsessively snapchatting and messing with their dopamine system before their brain is even finished developing.

"the ability to concentrate without distraction on hard tasks is becoming increasingly valuable in an increasingly complicated economy. Social media weakens this skill because it’s engineered to be addictive."

Interesting viewpoint. Does the author really follow this? Has a webpage, blog and an archive that stretches for 91 pages ~ http://calnewport.com/blog/archive/ Not a good sign if the author thinks you should quit or limit your social media contact. I don't care if the authour justifies this as necessary. It's a sign that ignoring the real problem doesn't seem to work.

The Internet is addictive. In fact I've spent a bit of time writing my own tasking system to tackle this problem. In writing up an accompanying blog post on distraction and focus I found the GTD, work hard, achieve more in less time frenzy isn't new. It pre-dates the Internet by decades. Take Charles R. Schwab, owner of Bethlehem steel, someone who Thomas Edison described as a hustler. Schwa hired the best productivity guru he could. Ivy Ledbetter Lee. Lee proposed a very simple technique to focus and work on. Then charged Schwab USD$20,000 for the effort. You can read more in this article, "Ivy Ledbetter Lee" ~ http://jamesclear.com/ivy-lee

Quitting social media is a temporary fix as you'll probably find other ways to distract yourself and avoid work. The deeper problem is realising the Internet is very addictive and find coping mechanisms to counter the side effects.

While reading up on the problem of Internet addiction and digital works, I re-read the article pg wrote on this topic, "Distracting Distractions" I found an update on his suggestions: "The strategy described at the end of this essay didn't work. It would work for a while, and then I'd gradually find myself using the Internet on my work computer."

It is a problem that could yield some interesting work.

I quit Facebook for 6 months and I felt that a big burden was dropped off my shoulders. I found myself reading more books and frequenting a lot of interesting blogs and discussions. I also focused on personal projects without the need of social validation. Then I reactivated it for a week to give sign of life to my "friends", but felt a pressure to be active, to post and respond to messages. I had gone back to checking my Facebook as my first tab and felt suffocated by the need to always "keep up." I finally decided to deactivate it once for all and never looked back. I personally think that instant messaging is the sweet spot, allowing me to communicate with friends I actually care about, without the need to rack up likes and keep up with the joneses.

What about Twitter?

I find twitter to be worse than facebook.. in facebook its more like i'm spying on my friends and they're letting me but on twitter it feels like you have to prove a point over and over and be something so people will follow you. Being a voyeur is easy, having to be a "socialite" on twitter is draining..

The people I follow that are popular are always posting.. 24x7.. its a wonder they get any work done.. but they're also people that appear to love talking on the phone and chit chatting about everything.. so if you're a socialite it may work better for you...

I find both draining, but twitter more so and i'm currently takinga hiatus from FB mostly over fake news, but considering a hiatus from twitter as well.. unfortunately though twitter is the way people in my industry communicate and get news.. (devops / distributed computing)

Maybe you're just using the wrong heuristic for Twitter? I never follow more than 100 people and periodically cull my list down to that if I go over. My goal is primarily to follow interesting people, especially other local programmers, people who are working on cool research topics I would otherwise miss, and friends who make me laugh. I remove anyone who is too noisy for too long, even if they are interesting. Twitter is by far my favorite social network and is generally high-signal for me.

Popularity seems like an anti-goal unless you're selling something.

Extremes should always be evaluated carefully. Social media's place in the CS field has two main reasons for me.

1) To show how the mind works and to showcase it on a CV. 2) To be available to this thing called the 'internet' which is basically a giant global party where the only information that we can find out about one and another is either through what others say about us or what we say about ourselves. If I purpose a crazy solution to a problem you will most likely want to verify who I am to see if my idea has any credence.

The article is right that it is a distraction but for CS minds to come together and share ideas it is almost a necessity to help drive innovation.

A sensationalist headline... The article actually read more like: stop wasting time. Sure, if you spend too much time on social media, reduce the time spent.

As someone who, years ago, implemented a lot of change to improve my life; here are some thoughts:

If you want a better, and more meaningful life, figure out what (and who) in your life is detrimental to your quality of life. Then rid yourself of those elements.

Second, enumerate everything (and everyone) you spend time on that adds no value--eradicate those elements from your life.

Make no mistake, these can be two very big, strenous and time-consuming tasks; which might need to be planned out in detail--as in how you will rid yourself of each element. The hardest part will usually be to "quit" detrimental people. But once you are done, boy, will your life improve.

When these two steps are done, you have been rewarded more time, not simply given, but earned. In the case of social media, I think I read that the average (globally) time spent is at something like 2 hours per day! If social media is one of those things either detrimental to you, or that adds no value, and you are an average user--then you just freed 14 hours per week.

Imagine if you took up a new hobby (do you even have one? many don't), something that actually improved quality of life, 14 hours a week learning a new instrument, or learning to draw, or write, or ski. That is a lot of time. Novel activities are good for your brain!

Another thing I have observed, especially in the age of social media--but it's not new, just seems worse now--is that a lot of young people need to learn how to be alone. Some people are hardly never alone. They have to learn this before they can learn to concentrate.

If you are like me, an introvert, you are probably alone a lot (if you are not, that can drain you of energy), but one thing you probably need to learn is to cut down on multitasking. It's not good for your brain (learning, memory) or body (stress), it's not good for productivity.

Sorry for rambling.

For the record: I barely use social media; I have inactive accounts here and there.

Sure, quit social media if you're a robot who's sole purpose in life is to maximize your career - though I'd still argue that social media is valuable in that it enables you to expand your network and maintain/strengthen your personal connections. But even if it were the case that social media is worse for your career, a lot of us live for more than our careers.

If you find yourself constantly wasting time on Facebook during work, you just lack discipline. I don't know about you guys, but my news feed is generally pretty boring, thus I don't have the urge to keep checking it. I'm not trying to claim moral superiority here, just saying that if you have an addiction problem, you need to take responsibility and hold yourself accountable rather than blaming the tool.

I bounce back and forth on this. I don't really feel like Facebook enriches my personal connections; it just lets me remain to a lot of people I'm not really connected to anymore. It's like having a system for maintaining lower tier friends. LinkedIn feels the same way: I have a huge network of people that are all talking, but none of it really does anything to enrich my career. I don't listen to them, they don't listen to me. When I need career advice, help with job hunts, etc. I call someone I know and trust and they do the same. I don't think we can feasibly maintain large networks.

I have found a large LinkedIn network to be useful for finding customer interviews for startup ideas. There are a lot of people that I am connected to enough that an intro from them beats a cold email. I often will find a company that seems like a good fit for a problem or idea I am working on, see if I have any second-degree connections there, and ask for an intro.

I really enjoyed Brad Feld's post[1] on choosing how to use each social network you sign up for. On LinkedIn, I've decided to be a public, promiscuous consumer. On Twitter, I am public, selective, and a mix of consumer/producer. Facebook is one that I probably need to cut even more than I do, since I don't have a strategy and get little value from it.

Social networks can be tools, and if they are not providing value, it may mean you need to use the tool differently or get rid of it if it doesn't solve a problem you have.

[1] http://www.feld.com/archives/2012/02/happy-birthday-im-unfri...

> A dedication to cultivating your social media brand is a fundamentally passive approach to professional advancement. It diverts your time and attention away from producing work that matters and toward convincing the world that you matter. The latter activity is seductive, especially for many members of my generation who were raised on this message, but it can be disastrously counterproductive.

> Most social media is best described as a collection of somewhat trivial entertainment services that are currently having a good run. These networks are fun, but you’re deluding yourself if you think that Twitter messages, posts and likes are a productive use of your time.

This rings of the author's experience being in academia. In the business world, good products do not sell themselves.

"Most social media" is not Twitter. Twitter is a relatively unique social network.

It was interesting that the story was about being distracted rather than having potential future employers seeing you in an earlier and perhaps less flattering context than you currently present yourself. Both are good reasons to avoid social media I suppose.

Yeah, I expected this to be about the small risk of devastating impact, should you make an off-colour joke or an offensive complaint on a public view and it goes viral.

I've said before that Social Media is our generation's "cigarette".

Very much like in the early days, people just didn't have any awareness that cigarettes were harmful. Hell, everybody was doing it (see Mad Men).

I've learned from day trading and investing is how much we downplay herd psychology. Our society has geared us to beat any sense of opposition as hostile. Our evolutionary process have selected individuals based on how well they are able to blend and we feel instinctively safer in large numbers (def. mech. against predators). We are social creatures so they say.

But history is filled with instances were the crowd behaves very predictably over and over because the underlying constraints of group think are there. Social media is particularly aggravating medium for which false,fake,wrong have greater mobility than facts and common sense.

Besides the dissemination of false information which is harmful to our society and individual as a whole, perhaps the sheer noise and frequency of sensationalist artifacts is the biggest perpetrator of all.

It's only recently that we are beginning to become aware of the what if effects of being exposed to so much "spamming with our running commentary of bullshit masquerading as insight". So far, studies have confirmed that it's negative on the individual.

Having said that, there's plenty of people who don't care. They are happy uploading selfies and food they are about to digest and poop out in 12 hours. It's fleeting moments that are so ephemeral, information that otherwise would be irrelevant, insignificant noise, is being magnified through the crowd effect that social media platforms exploit and engineer to grow their user base.

Our low interest money has created a whole new economy where the number of active users without any doubt, taken at it's face value rather than examining it's intrinsic worth.

Just how important is it for everybody to be so connected and knowing every possible detail going on with everybody else?

For me, not very, and I've for the most part (besides HN & Reddit) have embraced off the social media grid lifestyle 3 years ago and I'm fucking loving it so far. I feel happier.

I'm not perfect as I use HN & Reddit. Although, I do spend less and less time on those platforms and experience more joy as well.

Social media is this generation's cocaine. It's fun at parties, it's fashionable when done right, but sad when doing it by yourself.

There are browser extensions to block websites, but I think a more subtle approach might help: add latency.

Social networks spend a lot of time optimizing performance because they know how much it increases traffic. So it seems like a browser extension that adds a bit of latency and gradually ramps it up for the websites you choose could help to reduce the impulse to check too often.

I understand the procrastination argument but if it is not some (social) website it is something else. People who tend to procrastinate will do it anyway.

At least this is my personal experience.

Good, tightly written article. I think there's another reason I was expecting to see but didn't - when people say "social media" they usually mean Twitter, and Twitter seems to be optimised for creating huge dramas and flamewars. I think it must be the character limit. You can't say anything really interesting in 140 characters, so much of what's said ends up being so compressed all nuance and explanation is lost. Also the site encourages you to just blurt out whatevers on your mind without thinking about it. It's no surprise that Donald Trump had his Twitter access taken away from him towards the end of his campaign.

> I think it must be the character limit.

I think it's how easy it is to get the last word in and check out of the conversation without any real consequences or feedback.

Everyone gets their smug win in, even the lurkers. No real understanding is promoted.

The character limit is a problem, but that has simple workarounds (blogging, tweet storms, text images) if that was a real issue.

I have found it weird that despite the commentators here being the loudest proponent of privacy, you cannot actually delete a Hacker News account and all comments with it.

Because deleting your comments removes all context for other comments.

And sice we usually don't quote here, or only very sparingly, you'd affect lots of other people.

So keep the comment, and replace the username with [deleted].

That seems to work just fine for plenty of other social forums.

This is a great point.

Why not?

Because a comment made on a public worldwide-readable forum is not private, and you know that before you sign up with an account, so it's not like you accidentally made a public comment that was meant to be private. Protecting private communication is about just that - stuff that actually is private (to begin with).

Public opinion and the law may of course change, the issue that something uttered in public, be it by voice or in writing, can be retroactively taken back and declared as "private" has only been an issue with the advent of public electronic forums.

I don't think you will find a lot of people who think enabling people to change their mind after they made a public statement is a high priority, especially since it has a negative impact on everybody else: How does a forum look like when key posts are suddenly missing? And I say "key post" because if it didn't get a lot of attention to begin with it's unlikely that the poster will regret having posted it.

>Because a comment made on a public worldwide-readable forum is not private, and you know that before you sign up with an account, so it's not like you accidentally made a public comment that was meant to be private. Protecting private communication is about just that - stuff that actually is private (to begin with).

That's an incredible strawman. Nothing you argue is a reason why we can't delete posts with our accounts.

>How does a forum look like when key posts are suddenly missing?

I guess that depends where your values are: privacy or making sure a forum "looks good".

Your entire tone is completely out of place here, on many levels.

  > That's an incredible strawman
Merely yelling "strawman" whenever you don't like an argument doesn't mean it is one. Since I'm talking about the issue itself it can't be a "strawman".

  > Nothing you argue is a reason why we can't delete posts 
I didn't argue "can't". You are inventing things. Sure it's possible. Did you read the previous comments of the conversation before commenting? I get the feeling you didn't.

  > depends where your values are: privacy or 
I wrote about just that - I wonder which comment you read when you wrote that comment? You reply feels like you didn't bother reading what people incl. myself wrote, it's so disconnected. Not good.

Again: It is NOT a private post, it was posted on a PUBLIC forum, and pretty much guaranteed not by mistake! I wrote about that.

While I agree with your assessment, It is worth remembering that before the advent of the internet, even when speaking in public was not as widely public as it can be today.

Yeah, I figured this is the reason. Interesting discussion around it. Probably a good middle ground somewhere.

Not everyone worships their career.

You can of course get rid of TV, music, theater, art, books, .. out of your life and focus only on your career skills development.

Social media is young generation's way of life. It's such a valuable communication channel for teens. Embrace it. Teach them and yourself how to use it to your benefit in moderation.

I'm wondering if there is a simple trick / way to keep social media around without getting too addicted too it. I can completely 100% relate to this article and am scared by it.

However, I can't just shut my accounts down. The advantages they give me over a life without them are just things that I don't want to miss out. I feel "blessed" of having even the opportunity to use amazing worldwide connected tools like facebook and twitter considering the last 100 years.

I get around very often and make friends and contacts almost everywhere. Some of these connections are not relevant until I am in location X again. Some are old friends in my hometown that I from time to time contact. Some are professional connections. In many cases Facebook is the only viable connection to keep contact with less-frequently contacted people.

Messenger? Doesn't work. Some countries use WhatsApp, some LINE, some KakaoTalk, some Threma and some, well, facebook messenger. Replacing facebook with 6 messaging clients is just not gonna work.

I am currently blocking most websites through a little snitch profile but I can feel the urge to unblock them and just... one more time... check if there is something new. I even catch myself occasionally opening facebook just to see the "connection unsuccessful" message.

From my experience, Pomodoro helps a lot in staying focused. But please, if you have anything to share to get rid of this addiction, share!

Flag your Facebook account for permanent deletion and then go on a two week vacation without your computer or phone. By the time you get back, you'll be over the hump of needing a social media hit, and your list of Facebook friends will be gone, which is a good barrier to re-entry. Same for Twitter. Getting rid of Reddit, HN, etc might be harder, but if your habits haven't changed after two weeks, you could also set up a hosts file to block problem sites before your vacation.

I can't just shut my accounts down.

Yes, you can.

When I deleted my Facebook account the first thing I noticed is that I did not die.

We recently had a presentation at my University from a number of local industry leaders, and the topic of Social Media's role in the hiring process came up. I've been in the process of slowly reducing and removing social media where possible, and the reaction I got to a question regarding an individual's lack of a social media presence was quite negative. Basically the consensus was that if, during the hiring process, the managers / recruiters / HR were unable to find social media accounts (or found highly private / restricted accounts) for the applicant then they would view this as an immediate red flag and indicated that they have previously dropped candidates from consideration purely for this reason. I could have imagined this happening in isolated cases but I was surprised to hear it from 2-3 of the presenters, none of which had any relation to one another.

The irony of this whole situation being that the reason they scan applicants social media in the first place was to look for red flags in the applicants behavior outside of the work place and/or to find reasons they shouldn't be considered for employment.

Kind of ridiculous.

What kinds of companies were these? In many industries you'd seriously compromise your hiring if you ruled out all the experienced 40+ year old candidates who don't care for FB accounts. Mechanical engineering and defense work especially.

There isn't a whole lot of dev. work or innovation going on in the private sector where I live. This was local Government and a couple of Software Development Consultancies (who primarily contract with local Govt.).

They did give the impression that the suspicion when finding no internet presence was generally when vetting younger graduates.. ie. Millenials, and those who they felt were more likely 'trying to hide something' by not using social media..

I'm pleasantly surprised this is being discussed at the top of HN.

I feel like 2 years ago people would pile on about how unusual it was to not be part of social media, how there is little argument against leaving, or how you must be seeking attention or must be anti-social. Well, as a very social 20-something, I left Facebook 3 years ago, myself a heavy user with thousand+ friends scattered around the world, and it has made zero negative impact on any aspect of my life ('invitations to events' or 'keeping contact' is the typical fear against leaving, and it continues just as seamlessly [1] - people don't stop caring, thinking, or reaching out to you just because you leave Facebook, and vis versa), and it has easily been one of the top 5 or 3 decisions I've made in these 3 years. It's the equivalent of cutting out unnecessary yet significant things, or simplifying your life so you can remain mindful of the bigger goals. This may sound like something cheesy from the 4HWW, but I nonetheless think that kind of mindset is right on.

Now I see more people leaving Facebook who I wouldn't have imagined doing so a few years ago. Perceptions will remain divisive for some time, but I can see "avoiding social media" as gaining some real cachet as "I don't fuck around". Regardless of whether there is actually a correlation with avoiding social media and being a more serious, goal-oriented person, I do think mainstream perception will continue to change for the better away from the stigmatizing "Wow <person X> is not on <platform>, what's his deal?"

[1] Lightweight messaging apps, especially for international contacts... certainly not the whole investment of 'social media' since it's nothing but the messaging.

Always wanted to spare some time to calculate how Facebook and other social distraction influence our productivity and income. Every single notification and distraction during work hours makes us less productive not only by taking time, but also by decreasing ability to focus. We achieve less during the day.

Basically, Facebook converts time of every single user life and productivity decrease into own revenue. And it's done with very very low efficiency--for the whole year it's around $40+ per US user for Facebook. As reported average user spends 50 minutes per day on Facebook. Hence, about 7.3 full 24 hour days (if we add sleep time required to compensate being awake 7.3 x 1.4 = 10.2 days) of your life make Facebook $40+.

I wonder what it means for US GDP in general should the data be run countrywide calculating distraction time and productivity decrease during the work hours.

Maybe it's the discipline I've learned from years of power lifting, but I don't have any issues with social media. I'll often skip FB for days because it's not something I think about doing. I do like games though and will sometimes play one for an hour or maybe even 2 hours if it's the weekend. After that I start feeling like I need to do something productive.

As far as comments, I always try to act online as I would in real life. This means I try to avoid snark online since it is so hard convey sarcasm online. I also always think about if I was having a real conversation how would I act. If you read my comment history, most (all?) are calm, and I think are how I have disagreements in real life. I try to follow the thought process that you can shear a sheep many times, but can only skin it once.

Great article :). Cal Newport has some reaaaallly important ideas. I encourage you to read his book Deep Work in which he explains how to create deep, complex stuff.

Great book - but instead of applying the ideas I'm surfing reddit, facebook and twitter even more :(

Maybe I should re-read books more, and at some point the content ends up being used.

I can't believe there are only 3 Cal Newport mentions in the comments so far!

Not realistic. I've seen multiple companies build their success on social media (don't forget Pinterest) after stagnating through SEO and traditional advertising, so to say "quit it" is not only killing millions of dollars of opportunity but completely unnecessary if your point is that you as a worker waste too much of your work day on it.

Do like I do and turn your phone or tablet notifications for these apps off and check them later in your free time. If you really can't handle being personally responsible in your job, then sure, quit social media, but otherwise grow up and keep your brain on.

Why not to use FB in one classic line: you are the product being sold, everything else is just an illusion. Case in point: in FB. ads you can even target specific individuals.

The only problem is that like every social illusion it creates a social contract which makes it hard to get out of it - mostly because it will feel like being isolated from the "world" and in losing that perfectly crafted new "self/identity" will shatter the ego (we all know the ego doesn't enjoy being messed with).

Even if one is using it "just" for the messenger part, one is still part of all of this.

I'm not sure why would anyone use FB. to get new opportunities, FB. et al should not be taken seriously since most create their own persona on it akin to an MMORPG where one can literally choose to act like an Apache helicopter.

Moreover FB. is pure evil at its core: it's a global scale psychological experiment that future generations will refer to as: "those decades where everyone diluted their identity online, forgot about their "real" selves and thus slowly became clinically insane".

Some of the other arguments in the article are so broad that one can apply them to the Internet as a whole e.g. "distraction free work: just unplug your cable or disconnect your wi-fi"

I recently started and finished a side project over a week and did so on a computer that I don't normally use. I was not logged into any of my normal 'social' websites and I found my productivity was very, very high.

It was quite an eye opener.

This may also have something to do with the fact that this was a novel and enjoyable project (for me) with a hard deadline, but there were a couple times where my brain was trained to go open up Reddit when I was stumped on something, and I immediately caught myself since it wasn't the normal page and got back to work.

I sort of agree, but at the same time, I don't use social media to advance my career. I use it to keep in touch with friends, which is important because I moved away from most of them two years ago.

I agree with you but find it hard to use social media for that, because people mix personal news with politics, religion, jokes etc...

The worse being twitter, a lot of people retweet so much junk.

The best being reddit, because by picking subreddits you can read about specific topics with a very low noise ratio.

What we need is a social media that is only about personal news.

"In a capitalist economy, the market rewards things that are rare and valuable. Social media use is decidedly not rare or valuable. "

This sounds such a short-sighted argument. Do people greet others because they expect some sort of rewards? It's a basic courtesy. Yes, some people overdo it but using a social media moderately could be a good norm. Again, the balance is the key, and we'll still need a bit more time to figure out the right amount of dose for each, but rejecting them outright is equally misguided.

The closest comparable to journalists running their blog is hackers to run their github portfolio. There seems pressure to run one almost professionally and on the other hand there are others in the industry that are doing well without one.

I like his scarcity argument there is something to it.

I'm less convinced of his argument that he and Steve Martin don't need it. Yeah right - but they already got visibility. Arguing against marketing from the top of the hill may get you print in the NYT but it still feels false.

There may be generational aspects to this story too.

FWIW -- Cal Newport's books on career development ('Deep Work' and 'So Good They Can't Ignore You') are very good, quick reads for those interested.

As someone who's quit social media several times, I can confidently say that my life is far better with it. Saying you never post and rarely look at it is like saying 30 years ago that you hardly ever call your friends and rarely pick up your phone because it's distracting and mentally damaging. And yes, I understand that it's a flawed analogy because social media updates are far more frequent than phone calls, but the analogy is still strong. We can make excuses for why all communication platforms are bad.

At the end of the day, you gotta do what you gotta do. If you have to avoid social media to stay mentally healthy and to get your work done, OK. If you can still do your work and remain mentally healthy while using social media, OK.

I don't see the point in using anecdotal evidence, limited research, and popular myths to prove that social media is bad or that we should delete it. If it doesn't work for you, stop. It's like telling the world that alcohol is bad and that we're better off not doing it because you have a problem with alcohol. I'm not here to defend alcohol. I am here to suggesting considering that alcohol isn't necessarily evil. And I'm also here to say the same about social media.

This idea that social media is inherently evil because of the psychological tactics used is academically interesting but practically just a way for you to get onto your soap box and sound profound. It might also be a way for you to rationalize your choice for having somewhat regretfully deleted your Facebook. I get it. I did that for a long time. I see now that my problems with social media were mostly my own issues; and I see now that I can maximize the benefit of social media without becoming mentally disturbed or financially ruined.

I'm currently in the process of withdrawing myself from social media.

I pulled the plug on Facebook and Instagram this weekend, not that I was a heavy user of Instagram anyway and Facebook a light to moderate user. (it sounds like I'm discussing a coke habit here). What I will find frustrating is that in my social group - and I'm sure I'm not alone - Facebook appears to be the central tool for organising one's life.

Everything is organised on Facebook. Social events, parties, last minute "Does anyone want to go for a drink?" requests, discussions and meetup arrangements on my side hobby of homebrewing. I fear I shall become something of a social outcast, particularly as many friends I have, I don't have their mobile numbers as all contact was made through Facebook messenger.

This is one part of the reason that I'm pulling away from Facebook in particular. Facebook has almost two billion users and the internet as a whole has roughly 3.5 billion users.

How one corporation having that much data willingly supplied - where they live, where they work, where they've been, where they currently are, among everything else - by so many people is, frankly, a disaster waiting to happen. I want no part of it. I've given them enough data over the last couple of years. No more.

And on a less tin-foil hat angle it is a huge distraction that, aside from the social life organisation aspect, serves no good purpose that can't be provided using other means (email? phone calls? meeting face to face and sharing your selfies in person?).

I've also withdrawn from Instagram and plan to start developing in VueJS or EmberJS rather than React. I'm not officially boycotting Facebook, I'm just choosing not to use their products.

I've written about this many times in responses here on HN. Removing myself from Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, and what not, was the best thing I've ever done. For any remaining sites, I've installed comment blockers, so I don't have a chance to get sucked into negativity. Someday HN will be on the chopping block, but for now, it provides real dialogue. There really is nothing of value gained from wasting time on those sites. Now I have more time to read, hike, finish personal projects, whatever I want. Dating since Tinder has been completely ruined. Relationships are disposable, while everyone is just looking for the next big thing.

I'm really looking forward to a post social network world. Though I fear something even more addictive, and destructive will come around.

>I’ve never had a social media account.

So why should I listen to what this guy has to say about social media?

This reads more like adjusting how you use social media than quitting it altogether. The overly sensationalist headline probably obscures what the actual point of the article is.

If you're trying to turn social media into your career - say, being a journalist but only tweeting about things - then, no, that's probably not going to work. This seems to be what the article is railing against.

If however, you're using social media to help your work elsewhere find a wider audience, and then providing added nuggets of value on social media, then that's valuable.

The era of someone producing one piece of work that defines them for the rest of their career is now probably over. Theres an expectation now that you're continually engaged.

Yeah I think the author would agree with you that moderate use of HN is probably fine, but FB, Twitter and Linkedin are probably useless and altogether harmful.

Some also people made a career and a lot of money out of saying obnoxious things on social media.

I think it works both way. It can be detrimental to people who think what they say online is "private" (Justine Sacco), but plenty of attention seekers double down and take advantage of the viral effect of Twitter or Facebook to "promote their brand", whatever that means, or to make up controversy. But for these people it is also a double edged sword as the consequences of saying something on social media cannot really be controlled. But for most of us it is only a source of problems and unnecessary controversy, it is especially true on Twitter.

Of course, if you're a journalist or news reporter, then you're a bit screwed here. The stuff you need to write about is what's being posted on social media, especially when you're working for an entertainment focused media outlet. Someone working for a gaming, TV, film or music focused site or writing for a gossip mag isn't going to be able to quit Twitter/Facebook/Reddit/YouTube any time soon.

Then again, maybe that's also kind of why everything's become so polarised and clickbaity in the media world now. Because the people writing for it are incapable of writing anything deeper than a 140 character soundbite.

I've read Cal Newport's book Deep Work. I've also quit facebook almost 2 years ago and more recently twitter and instagram. I have zero regrets and overall I can say that my life improved a lot, including my professional life.

In 1992, a fellow student called Usenet the 'ultimate procrastination device'. The Internet provides access to an inexhaustible supply of people, topics and thoughts (some interesting, others less so).

This is still the case, except that the number of access methods and filters have increased, and many of them are with us everywhere, all the time.

Our own time is indeed finite, and my experience has been that the digital world will consume as much of that limited time as you let it.

Awareness is a first step, and a purposeful approach to consuming content helps keep your content consuming time balanced with, well, all the other stuff you can do in this world.

> Consider that the ability to concentrate without distraction on hard tasks is becoming increasingly valuable in an increasingly complicated economy.

I agree with this particular sentiment but I don't believe that "deep work", as Cal Newport calls it, requires us to turn off social media or other forms of less-deep work altogether. Certainly, we must balance and control our usage of social media. Certainly, we must be more than just consumers and create tweets/posts/blogs/etc. These mediums can be great ways to give back to the community.

I agreed with everything in the article. However I have also seen no shortage of job posts for tech - backend dev, where employers asked to provide links to any social media activity. So there is a fair amount of tech jobs that seem to expect you to have cultivated an online brand. This has always made me uncomfortable because I am of the same opinion of the the author and I generally won't apply to a company when I see this being asked for in an open job post. For things like "evangelist" I understand asking for this but otherwise no.

I created an extension to solve this problem while I was preparing for GRE and it has served me quite well since then! Here is the link in case someone would like to try: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/fb-feed-modifier/h...

I get dependent already on computer games (not a bad thing for Nethack and the Dark Souls series of course). It might be easy for me to get dependent, so I avoid drugs and other dependency causing things religiously -- like social networks.

But I am now a heavy FB user despite that, as an expatriate it helps a lot with keeping the fluency of my native tongue. The ease with keeping in contact is also really good for me, quite a bit away. I just wish there were fewer cat pictures.

The relevance for work and career is zero, of course. But the personal value is high.

You could also say reading hacker news is somewhat of an addiction as well. It's easy to become fixated on seeing what the latest trending stories, repos are. Everything in moderation.

Beyond the "work without distractions angle" think about this:

You online presence affords recruiters and hiring managers the opportunity to identify who you are before they make a determination to formally invite you to an interview (phone or in person). Even if you opt out of self identify, they can still figure it out if you have FB, Twitter, Linkedin, etc.

Thus, are you qualified, but didn't get a call back or request to interview email? It may be because of your race, gender, sexuality, etc.

"My research on successful professionals underscores that this experience is common: As you become more valuable to the marketplace, good things will find you."

If I didn't laugh so hard at this, I'd have to cry. Let's say my mileage has varied significantly. Diametrically. Exponentially. Hilariously.

No idea whether social media has any effect on anything; I don't use it. So there's that.

I was about to write - I'm ok, I don't have a Facebook login and my twitter is just for show...

And then I realize that HN is social media, after all.

I really enjoyed this article. I initially was introduced to Cal Newport's, Deep Work book. This book is amazing and I recommend anyone to read it. Since then, it's sent me into an almost obsessive time where i'm trying to do more productive and meaningful work. I respect this article and actually am off all social media myself (unless HN counts :) ).

This article assumes we are at the whim of social when infact many people have tamed social and, for lack of better phrasing, made social their bitch.

Read The Distraction Addiction: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16131064-the-distraction...

That seems like an incredibly overconfident attitude. I actually can't name a single person who uses social media in a highly productive way. Like what is even considered productive on social media? I don't mean just workplace productivity, but even conducive to personal growth or producing more empathy or more understanding of the world or deeper friendships etc.

That shit doesn't happen in Facebook.

> I actually can't name a single person who uses social media in a highly productive way.

I'm talking about mining, say, Twitter's firehose for nuggets of gold using, let's say, R[1] or finding other clever ways to separate the signal from the noise.

It's well known that Twitter and even Facebook's firehose are a cluttered, un-curated mess which are crying out to be analyzed with things like R[1], if you are so inclined, or finding other ways to do signal analysis on other social networks like Facebook.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R_(programming_language)

What this article doesn't mention but should very seriously be considered, recruiters often look to disqualify candidates based on controversial ideas or standpoints that might not agree with the company's cultural mindset. Definitely need to be mindful of how your views will be analyzed before you have even been considered for an interview or offered a job.

It would be interesting if there was a simple way to monitor dopamine release into the system, with a little bell attached.

Every time you distract yourself with browsing HN or checking whether Toady One has updated Dwarf Fortress, a little ding lets you know you just satisfied an addiction.

Probably turn people into bell addicts with a feedback loop.

I wrote about this last year, your online persona in relation to your personal career.

Quitting social media for personal usage is a pretty good idea though if you're always checking it.


People don't realize how negative an impact social media and its related notifications can have at work. I recently wrote a blog post about notifications at work while pairing: http://krishicks.com/post/notifications/

The author mentions:

"There are many issues with social media, from its corrosion of civic life to its cultural shallowness,..."

Can anyone elaborate on how it "corrodes" civic life? I am guessing this mean "civic" in the sense of civility not civic as in civic duty? Is this referring to the mean spiritedness of many people's online personas?

Are engineers who work at addictive software (social media apps, some type of games, etc.) actually breaking ethics? Should we defy this as a profession, not allow our skills to be used for a thing that's borderline evil?

If pushing addictive narcotics is denounced as one of the moste evil deeds possible, how's this different?

"If you’re serious about making an impact in the world, power down your smartphone, close your browser tabs, roll up your sleeves and get to work." -- without the tabs open I hardly can work anything these days, sigh. But yes I agree that social media attention decreases my long-time-focus-capability gradually and it is terrible.

Why was the correct punctuation of the original headline replaced with a comma splice?

Can we get someone to restore the correct punctuation?

Social media was supposed to be about your social life and not about your career. And of course social life doesn't help in career (less time for working/studying). How a post changes someones social life (positive/negative) is a question, but I think must 16 year old teens are much better at it than the author.

I've been telling everyone I care about to follow my lead and leave facebook, twitter behind. Like the author, people seem surprised that someone in my field is against it so much, and once I explain why, they seem to understand but not want to process that understanding (like explaining to a smoker that tobacco kills).

Has anyone found a reliable way of blocking websites / apps (ideally on a time-restricted basis) on iPhone? Short of routing all your traffic through a remote SOCKS proxy. I'm tempted to move to Android just to customise my /etc/hosts but I'd rather there be a simpler way...

The author implies that there is no value in social media. It seems to me that there is value in social media. Effective usage of social media can build networks and be an alternative to meetups.

I think a valid solution is to limit social media usage to within specific windows (eg: only use social media for 1 hour per day)

I've recently started reading the dead tree version of the newspaper and I've noticed that only do I seem to retain more of what I've read vs. reading the electronic version, for me it's something along the lines of a focus exercise. It really feels like it's clearing out the cobwebs.

I recommend a different approach - if one feels bound to go on social media often, take a couple of month hiatus from it. The main important thing is to be able to break the power of addiction, since it is what causes the distractions in the first place. It is not really a problem unique to social media.

It's like in that anecdote - I guess the author is not using the wrong kind of social media ;) I get a lot of useful information from diaspora* for instance.

If someone builds a stereotype and then says - I don't like that. It speaks more about the stereotype, than about the real thing necessarily.

Concerning facebook, I got annoyed by the whole newsfeed a long time ago. So I unfollowed everyone & groups. Next was the invitation crap. End result is a near empty newsfeed. If I'm interested in some person I will go to their page myself.

Since no one's mentioned it, The Shallows by Nicholas Carr covers some of the neurological effects of constant social media/internet gratification quite well. Ironically it took me about a year to finish the book because I kept getting distracted...

A simple fix for social media addiction is using the 'do not disturb' feature. No notifications for the next hour. Take breaks every hour to take a short walk and look at your phone. I find it to be very effective.

The NYT is putting you on notice that any political involvement, especially outside of approved channels, may necessitate threatening your career. What you should really be doing is paying taxes and keeping your head down.

If this article made sense to you, you should read the author's book on the topic. I've just finished it and really liked it.


I'm more than willing to delete all my social media accounts. The only problem is: I travel frequently and need a way to keep in touch with a wide variety of people. Ergo, Facebook.

Any suggestions on replacing in this manner?

Just stay logged into messenger and don't ever open facebook except to post a few pictures so people know you're still alive.

Already quit Facebook, but this article just convinced me to quit LinkedIn too.

LinkedIn works if you just treat it like an online CV; Keep your details and work history up to date, and ignore all the other social crap. My last two positions came from recruiters finding me via LinkedIn, so for some disciplines it still has merit.

I don't use it because I'm coming to the end of my working life, I don't expect to interview again. However if I was earlier on in my career I would be managing my Linkedin profile quite carefully.

I just got the best gig of my life through LinkedIn. But I was abroad so not really able to physically network as such.

using the kill newsfeed extension for Linkedin makes the app bearable for me.

If this topic interests you, Tim Wu's latest book, "The Attention Merchants," might also. He chronicles the rise of attention-monetizing by the media and the various rebellions against them.

If you struggle with this, try: https://selfcontrolapp.com/

It's a digital nicotine patch for your bad browsing habits.

I second that. Works like a charm.

I agree with this sentiment mostly. I did delete my personal facebook. My twitter account I removed a lot of previous posts in the hopes to inactivate it without deleting it publicly.

I just finished reading his book "deep work" this morning. I highly recommend it, I'm not going to give up social media but I'm not going to give in to it either.

I got into the industry working for Geocities. Back then we had no cell phones no social media it was easier to focus in a world of landline answering machines lol.

I'm addicted to HN like that. Should I quit it then?

In your profile you can set 'noprocrast' to allow you a max visit length and a minimum time between visits. Wean yourself off to only browse at certain times of day or week where it is convenient and useful to you (ie. news catchup hour)

yo thanks fam!

On a somewhat related note I started just shutting Slack off at work when I need to get some thing done and it's been incredibly liberating.

I was the only one that laughed out loud reading the title while seeing Twitter and Facebook share buttons on top of the article?

I found unfollowing everyone on facebook helps. I now just look at my friends list to see who has new posts a few times a month.

Flagging this for obvious, one-sided political bias. The bunny trail from Trump being elected, to "fake news on Facebook" story being perpetuated in the press, to this editorial, is just straight laughable to me.

Maybe I made the wrong call, but I'm happy to start flagging nytimes articles with the same judiciousness I'd flag a Breitbart article with an innocent-seeming but obviously-politically-motivated conclusion at hand.

I wonder if surviving Usenet Septembers prior to the Endless September conferred some immunity on the survivors?

I used to see this back when I had a catchall email address on a .com domain which was the same as a domain for a school in .uk. Every September, I'd get misaddressed student emails. I'd send them back a note, and they'd stop. By October the new students had figured out their domain name and the problem stopped.

Once, though, I got a message "I am going to kill you tonight", addressed from one student to another. Ignore, reply, report to UK law enforcement? I got the headmistress of the school on the phone, in the middle of the night in the UK. After about a minute of confusion, she told me that the sender was 12 years old and the problem would be dealt with.

If that had had happened in the US, it probably would have involved a SWAT team.

Only in * (fear of Godwin point reference) society do you fear to have opinions.

This especially was amplified through the election season. The distraction was all the time!

A simple way to break a bad habit it, Ted Talk transcript:


Have there been any studies done that link social media and a decreased attention span?

If MS' ad division is admitting this publicly and saying advertisers should prepare for it [0], you can be sure it's something.

0 - https://advertising.microsoft.com/en/WWDocs/User/display/cl/...

How can you trust someone about social media who said they never own a social media?

I gotta tell you, that has to be one of the least convincing reasons I have heard.

The underlying issue is that we are going to see if the coming nationalist / populist policies will break down mundialism and its pretence for the educated white-collars to live in one single, global, always connected community.

Quit hacker news, your career may depend on it

So does this also apply to quitting H/N ?

As usual, NYT is ON IT. https://twitter.com/NYTOnIt

ghost blog i believe has more potential

tl;dr 'back to work peon!'

There is also another aspect. In theory your personal life and work are separated. Your religion or political opinions should not matter at work.

But many people (sadly even on HN) think it is ok to fire people, based on their opinions.

> fire people, based on their opinions.

Lest we forget:

- Brendan Eich, former CEO of Mozilla, fired for a donation,

- Douglas Crockford, uninvited from NodeVember, the general opinion is that he said something that a woman didn't like,

- Tom Preston-Werner, co-founder and former CEO of GitHub, upon an unproven accusation,

- And all people and the 2 colleagues who have been fired in smaller companies, in smaller events, without proof, only based on lynching and without demonstratedly due process to determine what they're guilty about (@mr-kanks from PyCon, I think about you every day I talk with a woman at work).

- GrubHub CEO saying that anyone who voted for Trump is not welcome.

The ballot is secret for precisely that reason — it's not possible to judge people based on their vote.

But making public your support for Trump — or the KKK, or NAMBLA, or Hacker News — is a completely different thing. You can and should be judged on the basis of the ideas and opinions that you promote.

Speech and ideas of all colors need to flourish. That's how bad ideas get discussed and stamped out: think of natural selection. Right now we have a situation where groups are too afraid to discuss so these bad ideas fester in their own filter bubbles.

On Liberty: Society can and does execute its own mandates: and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with it ought not to meddle, it practices a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself.

Bad ideas get stamped out by people pointing out they are bad ideas. If a CEO supports a spectacularly bad idea, it is not a problem if someone gives him the boot.

Even if the idea is completely unrelated to the company? And even then, we weren't talking about CEOs. We were talking about people like the low-level employees at GrubHub told that they should keep real quiet about their unapproved opinions if they wanted to keep their jobs.

"You can and should be judged on the basis of the ideas and opinions that you promote."

That reminds me of the quotation:

"A new idea is a beautiful and fragile thing. Attack people, not ideas."

I don't know who said that first, but I love that quotation. It mocks itself (and other witticisms), and at the same time reminds you to focus your energy attacking ideas rather than people.

In extreme cases, someone can have a lot of bad ideas and you need to challenge them personally. But that's only in extreme cases, and doesn't apply transitively to supporters of the person.

It would be nice if we could actually judge people accurately based on the ideas and opinions they promote, but that's rarely what happens.

Usually people are judged based on the ideas that those who oppose them hold.

The ballot is secret so you cannot pay people to vote a certain way. It has nothing to do with judging people for their vote.

It's secret for retaliation plus that. It should be obvious security requirement given all the times in history people got rounded up by the next, opposite person in power. Or politically punished as countries got less vicious. A good, voting system should always protect the voters from retaliation where possible.

It serves both to protect both the integrity of the vote, as well as the freedom of the voter from reprisal. Imagine a less than democratic democracy (if such a thing could be imagined). Dissenting votes, if public, wouldn't be very safe to make.

>You can and should be judged on the basis of the ideas and opinions that you promote.

Not in the context of your employment, you shouldn't. Really, where does this attitude come from that one's employer should get a veto over everything one does when off the clock? It's usually from people who are always complaining about evil corporations stepping on people's rights, too. I don't get it.

That's not really what he said. He said that a Trump victory makes some people fearful, and he wants a workplace that fosters the opposite of that, and that if you cannot foster an inclusive and diverse workplace that you are not welcome.

I don't think what he did say was quite eloquent and it was clearly emotionally heated, but it didn't imply nor state that Trump voters are unwelcome.

What he said: http://media.grubhub.com/media/press-releases/press-release-...

He very explicitly says that any employee that disagrees with his statement should resign and the "statement" included his political views.

Will wearing a t-shirt with "I heart America" get you fired at GrubHub? It's on Matt's list of no-nos: nationalist.

"Will wearing a t-shirt with "I heart America" get you fired at GrubHub? It's on Matt's list of no-nos: nationalist."

Nationalism and expressing love or pride in one's country (patriotism) are two different things, I think. They can be felt simultaneously but can also be expressed separately. Nationalism focusses more on cultural background, language, and heritage, which "I ︎<3 America" doesn't necessarily convey.

I don't know how all of this will shake out at GrubHub. The most I've heard of the company has been around this incident. There's a lot of close and sometimes purposefully uncharitable parsing of language and cherry-picking going around in general.

> Nationalism and expressing love or pride in one's country (patriotism) are two different things

I would agree that they are distinct, but very much related.

> Nationalism focusses more on cultural background, language, and heritage, which "I ︎<3 America" doesn't necessarily convey.

Ok, then, how about this t-shirt of Mickey/Heart/Flag: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/155866837074483117/

"I would agree that they are distinct, but very much related."

Sure. If they weren't, you wouldn't have put forth the example you did.

"how about this t-shirt of Mickey/Heart/Flag:"

I don't understand what you're getting at (nor am I interested in defining the working attire policy of GrubHub). My point was that there can be a meaningful distinction between nationalism and wearing a "I <3 America" T-shirt, which it looked like you were equating. If you have a point, please make it.

I appreciated the distinction you made in your feedback.

> [from your OP] Nationalism focusses more on cultural background, language, and heritage, which "I ︎<3 America" doesn't necessarily convey.

I picked an "American" cultural icon in conformance with your definition of nationalism.

> If you have a point, please make it.

Social commentary on the current attempt to render expressions of affinity for one's "cultural background, language, and heritage" as socially unacceptable, and indicative of regressive and/or antisocial mindset, and possibly cause for loss of livelihood in companies such as Grubhub.

I mentioned in my first comment that I think there's a lot of uncharitable parsing and cherry picking going on, all around. I think that's going on here, just as I think that's going on in a lot of political discussions, and it's obscuring a lot of very real issues that people generally agree on and increasing polarization.

I'm getting that impression from you in this discussion as well. Given the email as a whole and his follow-up, I don't get the impression of a CEO that would have someone fired over either of the T-shirt examples you've given. So far in this thread, that's been implied by your argument, and that's the only thing you've put forth. I also don't think that's everything you have to say on the topic, and I'm not going to assume what that is. Building straw men is in no way a useful exercise for constructive discussion.

I think there's a lot to be said for your statement:

"Social commentary on the current attempt to render expressions of affinity for one's "cultural background, language, and heritage" as socially unacceptable, and indicative of regressive and/or antisocial mindset"

I also don't see that being fairly applied across the board by a lot of people making arguments like this.

As stated before, I don't know that much about GrubHub or the CEO. If there is other evidence based on his behavior or experiences at GrubHub, that would add to this discussion of the letter and its affect on GrubHub. As I don't have any, I don't have anything more to say on the topic.

> Will wearing a t-shirt with "I heart America" get you fired at GrubHub? It's on Matt's list of no-nos: nationalist.

Where does he say that?

"... and these views, have no place at Grubhub. ... If you do not agree with this statement then please reply to this email with your resignation because you have no place here."

Obviously only excerpts from the full email[0], but seems to contradict what you just said pretty heavily. If I was someone who voted for Trump that worked at Grubhub, I know that I would have been afraid for my job after that email. Possibly even still would be, and might even consider moving jobs in order to not be afraid of that.

[0] The full original text of his email is at the bottom of this page: http://media.grubhub.com/media/press-releases/press-release-...

Again, nothing in here is referring to a Trump vote or people who voted for Trump.

It's referring to things like ridiculing or mocking minorities, immigrants, and disabled people. Which I think we can all agree are things that Trump did and have no place in a workplace like Grubhub, no?

People should not be mocked, agreed.

But I think things get more complicated in the current environment where people who have voted for Trump have basically been labeled the same as him. It's apparently possible to have a "hateful attitude", or be racist, or whatever else, which can get you fired at GrubHub, by having voted for Trump.

But honestly, regardless of arguing intent or whatever, I think the crux of the argument boils down to this: If you had voted for Trump and worked at GrubHub, would you be comfortable going to the CEO and saying "I voted for Trump" without fearing for your job, after that email? I would imagine the number of people at the company who don't/didn't feel that is non-zero (purely based on a vote, not based on if anyone there is actually racist), and I view that as completely inappropriate.

"It's apparently possible" as in you're the one drawing the connection the CEO didn't draw and then explicitly stated he didn't intend to draw: he did not say and did not mean to say that voting for Trump would get you fired.

The CEO never said Trump voters aren't welcome. That was the original comment that I disagreed with. It's factually incorrect to say that's what the CEO said.

If he said that directly he could be sued, so he used more subtle threats. Mentioning Trump's name twice in his email is not a coincidence - it wasn't necessary to make his point about racism or anti-immigrant sentiments, but it was necessary to make Trupm's voters get the message that they are not welcomed.

Well, it's more that it's a passive aggressive response to Trump winning, by timing, wording, etc.

Oh, I love out of context quotes. Can I do one from the same e-email.

"the new administration deserves our open minds and a chance to lead... never stop believing that the fight for what's right is worth it"

If you were a Trump voter who worked for GrubHub, would you feel comfortable strolling up to that CEO and casually mentioning who you voted for? Or would you consider yourself just a little bit chilled?

Appropriate to say that hateful comments are not welcome in the workplace. Not appropriate to bring politics into it with Trump. Employees should not be made to feel unwelcome because of their political affiliation.

Quick example, as awful as sexual harrassment is - the code of conduct at your workplace - it doesn't say - Sexual harassment (like the kind Trump does) will not be tolerated. They manage to get a point across regardless.

Is it fair to say that Trump had made hateful comments? If so - in what way is it unfair to bring Trump up on the day after the election?

Maybe it's a super dumb idea to drag outside political issues into the workplace at all. Not everywhere has to be a battlefield.

> Douglas Crockford, uninvited from NodeVember, the general opinion is that he said something that a woman didn't like

Anything to back that up?

This post compares the allegations with the harmless actual quotes:


This appears to have been the instigator:


I don't get how either of those quotes could be seen as attacking anyone.

Congratulations, you've just discovered the truth behind the entire women in tech moral panic.

Maybe because you are mentally sane.

I don't want to look for it right now, but somebody dug up a "do you have the gonads for monads" speech and was offended by the mention of gonads. I think the conference that uninvited him ended up reinviting him.

side note: This happened without his involvement in social media at all. Others, collectively, used social media to get that effect.

Like these cases are no much worse than all the people who have been fired for being gay or experienced employment discrimination over their gender or gender identity.

If you're saying that people shouldn't be discriminated against for their gender and they also shouldn't be discriminated against for their political views, then hey! We're in 100% agreement.

> Brendan Eich, former CEO of Mozilla, fired for a donation,

Fired for a donation that supported enshrining discrimination in a state constitution. It was a good firing.

Support nasty causes, win nasty prizes.

It was before the law was voted, and the law was in favor of his opinion at the time, therefore there was nothing reprehensible at the time.

Plus, the point is, if we purge people based on their political opinions, why bother with democracy?

"the law was in favor of his opinion at the time, therefore there was nothing reprehensible at the time."

What is legal is not the same as what is moral or ethical.

Figuring out how to tolerate dissent is an issue I think a lot of people are trying to figure out right now, as your statement is pointing to.

What about you let people privately support the causes they believe in?

He may have good reasons to think that, which aren't forbidden by law. It was legal, it is moral for some people, it is ethical for others, what about we let him do his job of managing a technical company? Companies shouldn't be forced to fire people who are considered as "witches" by the people, as long as they're competent in their job. It takes a huge amount of time to train CEOs and keep replicas on hot standby in a company, if the company has to second-guess the people's opinion about the politics (or sexual life) of CEOs, it's bad for the economy. And if we practice a witch hunt at every level of companies, it quickly goes unethical. See this quote from GitHub's new Diversity Director:

> "Some of the biggest barriers to progress are white women"

I'm sorry if I wasn't clear in my comment. I'm not taking a position on what happened in with respect to Brendan Eich in particular. As I wrote, I think figuring out how to balance this is a difficult issue. Given the amount of discussion this instance in particular and similar situations, I think it's far from settled for a lot of people. At least there's not wide agreement.

You bring up good points regarding the training and the costs of replacing people. Those costs are balanced against the value brought to the company, right?

One of the reasons I think it's difficult to discuss as when people start giving examples as to what should be tolerated and what shouldn't, some people are going to think it's absurd, and take issue with the discussion as a whole.

For the sake of argument, I'll try.

Let's say one of the goals of the company is to provide honeymoon packages and the target market is gay couples. An employee makes a donation in support of something like Prop 8. Is there a conflict there? Are they a good fit for the company? If not, should they look for someone else? Perhaps the person shouldn't have been hired in the first place. Should the company be able to make that decision based on knowing the candidate made such a donation? Should the candidate look elsewhere and not consider a position at the company? Can a company's goals change over time? Can a company's goals include those broader than just the product they market?

You mention "let him do his job of managing a technical company". I think there's tension here, as well (independent of the situation at Mozilla). People are not purely rational beings. How people get along in the workplace is important to its overall effectiveness. What's acceptable in one workplace is not going to be acceptable in another, similar to how people have different circles of friends. Should companies be able to hire for fit? Fire for it?

I think there are some very real questions there. And a lot of contentious issues. Please don't assume my answers to all of these questions, either. You're guaranteed to be wrong as I haven't come to a firm conclusion on all of them :)

If toleration of political opinion is a settled issue for you, please share :) Can you think of a political position that should not be tolerated?

The whole "what's legal is not necessarily moral or ethical" is another kettle of fish, which is the point I was making initially. Your point about what's moral for some people and ethical for others points to some agreement on your part, doesn't it? Perhaps one difference is whether or not we agree that a company can or should have an ethical purpose or should reflect the ethics of the people who own the company or work of the company. Or do business for the company, for that matter.

I don't expect you to have answers to all of these questions. I'd be surprised if you did. If you don't think these are valid questions, I'd be interested to hear which ones are invalid and why.

> there was nothing reprehensible at the time

Lots of people knew proposition 8 was reprehensible and protested accordingly. Eich chose not to listen.

> if we purge people based on their political opinions, why bother with democracy

Purging people based on political opinions is exactly how democracy is supposed to function. We regularly vote politicians out of office because of their political opinions. What other criterion should a democracy use to select leaders?

"Purging people based on political opinions is exactly how democracy is supposed to function."

What does "purging" mean to you in this case? You've now provided two examples: firing and voting. What level of political disagreement justifies what actions? I don't think there's widespread agreement, and it's something I'm trying to figure out for myself.

> You've now provided two examples: firing and voting.

Voting someone out of office is firing them. We're talking about firing.

Cool. I can see that for the purposes of this discussion. Is this only a workplace issue in your mind? At least for right now? Other aspects on my mind is what kind of heuristic do you use to determine if the political opinion is fireable? Or rather, it's not only what the opinion is (there are a lot of controversial political issues), or the opinion itself, it's the expression of it, right? For example, something said (some sort of speech act), or some other behavior.

Maybe for you this is some abstract problem for which you enjoy dreaming up an endless stream of meandering questions. For me it's a matter of "are the people above me in management going to fuck me over because of my sexuality?". And if I have evidence that they might, either they need to go or I need to go. And if I like my job, I'd rather it be them than me.

So for the sake of LGBT Mozilla employees, I'm glad Eich was shown the door. I'm not interested in entertaining a bunch of fluffy questions about heuristics, expression of opinion, what "purging" really means, or whatever. That's just noise.

I've been fortunate that I haven't had to deal with this firsthand, which is exactly why I'm asking. Thanks for taking the time to get back to me. I appreciate it.

- Curtis Yarvin, creator of Urbit, disinvited from presenting at the Strange Loop conference on programming languages after Steve Klabnik and perhaps other participants threatened to withdraw over Yarvin's political blog posts.

Calling other races well-suited to slavery isn't political, it's hate speech.

It's up to a juge to decide that. If the population decides, it's called lynching.

Absolute hyperbole. Lynching is when someone is killed. Dropping a speaker from a conference schedule isn't murder.

Doing something socially objectionable invites social consequences. I bet that Kony 2012 guy got uninvited from speaking engagements too.

NB: I was never participating, so I could have never threatened to withdrawl.

I'd put a slightly different spin on that. Instead of saying "personal life and work are separated," I'd say "the public and the private sphere are separated."

When you post on Facebook or Twitter, you're publishing content in the public sphere, deliberately. Published ideas are for public consumption and judgement. If you don't want those ideas and opinions to be judged, don't publish them. Talk to your friends and family about them: keep them in the private sphere.

There's a perverse modern idea that you don't have an identity unless it's a public identity. You barely exist unless you're seen to exist in Instagram pictures, Facebook posts, and Tweets. Not only don't you exist unless you build a social media identity, but because identity is sacrosanct, whatever you publish must be accepted without reservation and judgment — because it's just you being you.

That's bullshit. You have a private identity. You don't have to publish your opinions in the public sphere, and if you do everyone has every right to judge those opinions. If you don't want to be judged, keep it private.

> There's a perverse modern idea that you don't have an identity unless it's a public identity.

That started with talk shows on TV, where it is implied that you haven't had an emotion until it's made public.

>When you post on Facebook or Twitter, you're publishing content in the public sphere, deliberately.

I would argue that Facebook is private, Twitter is public.

Regardless of your privacy settings, it's public to the system. There have been reports of accounts that can see all accounts, and regardless, if Facebook decided to change their policy, things could become public with no input from you.

You have no expectation of anything on Facebook not being public.

Facebook creates such an impression with the existence of closed and secret groups, private messaging and so on. Now, i don't take their promises of privacy very seriously because I know they could change the ToS at any time and have done so before, but I think the general consumer assumes that the contents of a secret group are at least somewhat secret - not necessarily enough that it would be safe to engage in illegal activity therein, but certainly inaccessible to anyone outside of law enforcement or FB engineers.

It's not very reasonable to insist that everyone conceptualize all assurances as blatant lies all the time.

This is also true of email.

I never said it wasn't? Email often ends up passing through other servers you or your counterpart don't control.

You could in theory have it communicate directly with your counterpart's server over TLS, which would provide a good deal of privacy, but then you're trusting your counterpart's server. Given that most people aren't capable of running a mail server, it's not an ideal solution.

Why would you argue that?

Public vs private is irrelevant. There are just bigots who can not tolerate different opinions.

> There are just bigots who can not tolerate different opinions.

Nor are they obligated to. To paraphrase, I may defend your right to speak your opinion but I am not required to be your friend or to spare you from any social consequences of your speech. Make no mistake, there has never been a time when unpopular speech did not have consequences for the speaker and if this bothers you then feel free to exercise your right not to speak or select a society that shares your beliefs.

Employers in California are in fact legally obliged to tolerate political opinions in their employees.

Quoting from http://volokh.com/2013/08/06/lawsuit-over-firing-based-on-em...

In 1937, “the California Legislature, recognizing that employers could misuse their economic power to interfere with the political activities of their employees, enacted Labor Code sections 1101 and 1102 to protect the employees’ rights.” Labor Code section 1101 provides: “No employer shall make, adopt, or enforce any rule, regulation, or policy: [¶] (a) Forbidding or preventing employees from engaging or participating in politics …. [or] (b) Controlling or directing, or tending to control or direct the political activities or affiliations of employees.” Labor Code section 1102 provides: “No employer shall coerce or influence or attempt to coerce or influence his employees through or by means of threat of discharge or loss of employment to adopt or follow or refrain from adopting or following any particular course or line of political action or political activity.” These sections are designed to protect “ ‘the fundamental right of employees in general to engage in political activity without interference by employers.’ ”

Interesting! Based on when this became law I assume it was to protect workers who were interested in labor protection and socialism.

Now it can be used to protect those who political beliefs are more on the right. How the worm turns!

What does "political action or political activity" mean here? Everything you say or do is political to some degree, but it would hardly make sense to tolerate everything someone says or does.

Is "lynch mob" and "getting fired" covered under "social consequences" or under "defend your right to speak"?

Sounds like a false equivalency. People are fired for the things they say all the time, I'm not sure where lynching comes in.

Freedom of speech means the government cannot throw you in jail for the things you say. That is it. Short of violence, everyone else has the freedom of speech to tell you how reprehensible you are without limitations.

This idea that people have the right to say whatever they want without repercussions due to "freedom of speech" is a meme that needs to go away.

Yes. But that should not be new or surprising information to anyone.

I'm going to guess that a lot of HN does NOT think it is OK to fire people for their opinions - however if your core beliefs are out of line with a companies beliefs then it just might make you a bad FIT for the company. Not about your opinion, but about you fit with a group of people who's opinion and beliefs are opposite.

But then people extend the "core beliefs" of the company to whatever they want even if it has nothing to do with what the company does.

As much as I disagreed with Brebdan Eich's political positions, I thought it was wrong that he was pushed out of Mozilla because of them. HN is not a single voice but my reading of it at the time was that, contrary to my position, most people thought it was the right thing to do.

Skipping past everything before the 'but', hehe ...

> however if your core beliefs are out of line with a companies beliefs then it just might make you a bad FIT for the company. Not about your opinion, but about you fit with a group of people who's opinion and beliefs are opposite.

So I can veil and justify my prejudice in a company mission statement? This is busybody-ism run amok. This is institutionalized busybody thinking. We really need some collective soul-searching because great people are being destroyed.

How about this, let's stop ruining people for what's going on between their ears. Everyone's got stupid ideas and ugly and complicated thoughts. Get over yourselves, thought police!

Employers: hire people for what they can do for you, pay them fairly, and let them live the rest of their dumb lives in peace. If employees are being assholes in the workplace, discipline and/or fire them. If employees are tarnishing your brand by doing things disagreeable to you

    A) publicly, **AND**
    B) in your brand's name
Then, by all means, fire them and shame them while you're at it. Put out press releases on how ruthless the firing was!

Of course, the larger problem is the rest of the culture. There are groups who will retaliate against individuals by naming them and trying to link them to the brand of their employer. It puts the employer in an impossible bind. Brendan Eich and Mozilla spring to mind as a particularly memorable example of this.

It's a form of cultural terrorism, where one's private ideas can get them killed. The only solution, as distasteful as it sounds to many, is to not let the terrorists win. Mozilla should have kept Eich on, just to spite the SJW's and prevent them from souring civil discourse.

> It's a form of cultural terrorism, where one's private ideas can get them killed.

49 people were massacred this year for going to a gay nightclub, but Eich was a victim of terrorism because he was fired? What are you smoking?

Is there a better descriptor for what Eich was put through? I'd like to hear it.

Brendan Eich contributed to the Prop 8[1] traditional marriage campaign that the California electorate voted on. It was a constitutional amendment and it passed which, in 2008, was simply stunning.

In any case, Eich was shamed retroactively for his contribution. The hate and vitriol I read directed at the man at the time was incredible. If I were him, I would have been more in fear for my life and my family's, much less holding on to my CEO position. I don't know Brendan except hearing heard him speak a bit on youtube on technical topics, maybe he's a braver soul than I am IRL.

In any case, "the use of violence or threats of violence in order to coerce, especially for political purposes" is the #1 definition of 'terrorism', which describes what happened with Eich pretty well. Fear is as powerful a weapon of terrorists as bullets or jet planes or pressure cookers are. Is this definition of terrorism and its implications well understood by you, and are you simply resistant to empathizing with someone with different politics than yours? That's all well and good until it's your ox that gets gored.

Eich wasn't fired, at least not publicly. He stepped down because the cowards/traitors on the board let him dangle with no support.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Proposition_8_(2008...

> Is there a better descriptor for what Eich was put through?

Yeah. He was given a taste of his own medicine with regard to what it feels like to be victimized.

Ah, you've taken the terrorist's side, then!

Edit: I have upvoted gaur because their minority viewpoint needs to be fully heard to be understood.

What's to understand? Gaur fantasizes about victimhood (mine, and presumably his or others; see links below) and makes up facts.

On the facts, Mozilla and I both say I resigned, and Mozilla's board members said at the time that they wanted me to stay.

But in fantasizing that I was fired, gaur's moralistic and judgmental language exhibits the usual signs that Jonathan Haidt has detailed in "The Righteous Mind": a casting out of the other as beyond redemption and justly punished, without the ability to model said other or address their point of view.

(Also without ever adverting to the bad "purging" precedent he's endorsing, which global Trumpism can and will exploit by reversing his right-makes-might-makes-right circular argument. The shoe may soon be on the other foot even here in the USA, at least in large regions; it definitely never left the first foot in places like Saudi Arabia.)

Dishonesty and self-pity are not worth hearing or studying -- we have enough of them already.

Gaur expresses or implies falsehoods about California law, but I've addressed those elsewhere on HN and won't repeat here. Links:





Hi Brendan, just in case it wasn't clear to people who pity gaur, I upvoted to keep his messages alive so everyone could see how effortlessly the crybully drifts into tyranny.

Of course, you're right on, and that level of injustice he lusts for invites a cruel backlash. Your ominous parenthetical sidebar is not lost on me, and we may be heading to ugly places under Trump.

I am glad to hear you speak well of the Mozilla board. I know you all were put in an awful bind, and you did the most honorable thing you could.

Take care, I pray for you and for the country.

Quick reply to say I cited what the board said, not to praise them (I have no comment on the board then or now) but because they independently stated that I resigned, _contra_ gaur who wrote that I was fired. Facts matter.

Thanks for your other words & thoughts.

Facts do matter, and I will always be grumpy at your board for not more strenuously arguing in favor of you and against your detractors.

I hope you took good notes during those times and write your memoirs someday. What was it like to become a public figure after having such an impact on our industry? And then, I'm convinced you were just at the wrong place career-wise at the wrong time, what was it like to be a public figure caught up in a media firestorm? That's a story I'd like to read someday.

Also, what are you going to do next, if you're in a sharing mood?

https://brave.com/ - check it out.

I like it!

I've been bummed not to have Privacy Badger on my Android Firefox. I will give Brave a tumble, thanks!

I bet most of the people aren't completely in line of "companies beliefs", the only difference is finding this out and broadcasting publicly with modern social media and its witch hunt influence.

I had a girlfriend at one point who used her mandatory volunteer time at her Christian company to make calls for Planned Parenthood. So proud she stuck to her beliefs despite pressure to do otherwise.

> mandatory volunteer time

Why work at a Christian company if you find their beliefs oppressive?

I say this as someone who thinks there is a thin line (a birth canal) between infanticide and a legal abortion.

And there's always the option of working at common ground. Instead of picking a point of contention, serve at a food bank. Nobody objects to those.

I expect you know the obvious answer, because it's the best available compromise.

For example, the mandatory volunteer time may not have offended any principles and come with higher pay.

Because you need to eat?

Most companies have no right to any sort of "core beliefs". We are doing business, not church or homeless shelter.

Every company has core values. If not stated otherwise, the core value is profit and reputation for the owners and executives.

> Your religion or political opinions should not matter at work.

This is true only if your company has a deliberate no religion or politics position, and can operate like such.

There are three things you hire people for:

- Doing something specific

- Working more general things out

- Choosing what the first two do

The first is completely apolitical, the second is partly apolitical, the third is completely political. Suggesting that a company is not, in some manner, a political machine is a useful way of shifting the blame for the things it does to the regulatory system and making employees do things they don't agree with.

As soon as you "shout" something in public, it's not personal anymore. It's true online like in real life. The problem is now you have an audience of potentially millions of people online, which makes things even worse.

> Your religion or political opinions should not matter at work.

Keep in mind though that that's just a current fashion, not a law of the universe. You could just as easily make the case that if your religion doesn't matter at work, you should get a new religion (or a new workplace).

The only reason our current beliefs are in fashion is basically that the continual development of new technology has made public morality irrelevant. But if we ever stop being able to innovate ourselves our of the hole we're digging then the party's over and we become an islamic republic or whatever.

It is not a law of the universe, but it is somewhat more than fashion. In California, it is the law.

Quoting from http://volokh.com/2013/08/06/lawsuit-over-firing-based-on-em...

In 1937, “the California Legislature, recognizing that employers could misuse their economic power to interfere with the political activities of their employees, enacted Labor Code sections 1101 and 1102 to protect the employees’ rights.” Labor Code section 1101 provides: “No employer shall make, adopt, or enforce any rule, regulation, or policy: [¶] (a) Forbidding or preventing employees from engaging or participating in politics …. [or] (b) Controlling or directing, or tending to control or direct the political activities or affiliations of employees.” Labor Code section 1102 provides: “No employer shall coerce or influence or attempt to coerce or influence his employees through or by means of threat of discharge or loss of employment to adopt or follow or refrain from adopting or following any particular course or line of political action or political activity.” These sections are designed to protect “ ‘the fundamental right of employees in general to engage in political activity without interference by employers.’ ”

... and the law is the current fashion. It too could change on a wave of unpopularity.

In the US, discrimination is illegal:


How can moderators of this site actually allow a posted fact to be downvoted?

I don't want to work with a nazi, or with a racist, or with a fundamentalist zealot. I believe it's absolutely okay to get rid of these people in a company, as work is a social environment, no matter the level of professionalism. And also they may cause harm to the organisations they're part of.

> I believe it's absolutely okay to get rid of these people in a company

Once you start thinking like that, it becomes easy to find any way to rationalize firing anyone for any reason.

Lots of places have 'at will' employment conditions which mean you can in fact be fired for any reason whatsoever. Oddly enough this seems to be more popular in conservative jurisdictions.

Eh, I don't know. I think Nazis are categorically and fundamentally different than, say, anti-vaxxers. I mean, if you don't want to vaccinate your child, fine. I don't agree with it, but I can live with it. If you identify with a group that literally burned people in ovens though? Yeah, I can't live with that, sorry.

Interesting you compare those two groups where, in the 21st century, an anti-vaxxer is more likely to be responsible for causing a death.

That's a good point.

Yeah, don't get me wrong: not vaccinating your child is a very shitty decision, and dangerous both for the child and other children they interact with. Herd immunity and all that.

But let's be fair: one major difference between anti-vaxxers and Nazis is that anti-vaxxers are simply misguided and ignorant. The Nazis on the other hand knew exactly what they were doing (exterminating people) and even developed fucked up methodologies for doing it more efficiently. So I stand by my previous assertion that the two groups are categorically and fundamentally different.

>If you identify with a group that literally burned people in ovens though? Many nazis dont

Are they really nazis and zealots, or were they labeled as such? How would you discus these views with the person and change their mind if you label them as unworthy of your employer.

Free speech acts as Natural selection for ideas. Bad ideas never get checked and fester in filter bubbles if you don't let people express themselves openly.

Some people really are nazis, yes. I've been studying nazis on the internet for many years and reject your notion that natural selection will just get rid of them. that's like saying that the existence of your immune system means cancer is an illusion. There is sucha thing as the immune system in animals, and it works great a lot of the time, but it can also fail.

In case you hadn't noticed, fascism seems to be increasingly popular around the world lately despite speech being freer than ever before.

How is speech freer than ever before? It seems these fascist views exist because they were festering below the surface. Most of my conservative red state friends quit engaging in dialog for fear of being shamed but still talked amoungst themselves.

Speech is freer than ever before insofar as you have the opportunity to reach a vast global audience and insofar the trend in legal rights across the world as a whole has been towards having fewer restrictions on communication.

Being shamed isn't an infringement upon free speech. Being subject to legal sanction that impacts your liberty or property interest is. Your conservative friends have suffered no loss of their speech freedom, they simply haven't found a sympathetic ear for their viewpoint among liberals. Nor should they, say I as a liberal - when they come to me saying they want to restrict others' freedoms, I feel zero desire to assist them in that project or even associate with them.

Why would you assume that the subtextual nature of these fascist views explained their existence, though? They've been kept below the surface because when they were openly expressed in the past the overall reaction was highly negative.

You seem to think that if we just accepted people going about spouting fascist opinions, they'd eventually grow out of it or somesuch, as if it were a developmental stage everyone went through. The reality is that a lot of wars have been fought over these ideas already, most famously World War 2. And what we learned from that were that first, fascism when implemented on a large scale can lead to monstrous moral evils, as much as any other totalitarian ideology, and second, that some people seem totally OK with that.

Now, that would be merely interesting if we could be disinterested outside observers, in the same way that it's interesting to watch two ant colonies duke it out for territorial dominance because we don't empathize much with the individual ants. On the other hand, fascism (like all totalitarian systems) always has designated out groups who are designated to be acceptable targets for violence, both formal and informal. If you're passively accepting of that when it's happening to someone else next to you, then you share a small part in the moral responsibility insofar as your passivity differs from your base level of passivity. That is to say, if you're the sort of person who wouldn't lift a finger to help someone else in any trouble - being hit by a car, say, or suffering some wholly random natural calamity - then you're just an unhelpful person to begin with, whether that's due to anxiety, fear, or simple selfish indifference. On the other hand if you're normally helpful but don't help someone out if they're suffering from fascistic (or other ideological) violence, then you're indirectly assisting the oppression and bear some of the moral culpability for the results.

The fact is that when someone goes about saying (for example) they want the USA to be a country for white people and are willing to employ force to that end, that makes everyone who's not white feel much less safe because such speech normalizes the use of force against them. Of course, it's just as troubling if someone goes around asserting that they feel fine about hurting or killing white people. However, the facts that white people a) form a majority of the population and b) have inflicted far more violence against people of color in the recent historical past than they have been subjected to in return suggest a strong statistical basis for treating the first case as a much bigger problem than the second.

> Being shamed isn't an infringement upon free speech. Being subject to legal sanction that impacts your liberty or property interest is.

John Stuart Mill disagrees as I quoted previously: Society can and does execute its own mandates: and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with it ought not to meddle, it practices a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself.

"On Liberty" also delves way into harmful speech which Nazism certainly is, but all I'm really pointing out is that's a light year away from merely voting for Trump and seems to be done solely to dismiss others.

How does free speech act as natural selection if there's no penalty for 'bad' speech?

I'm arguing as it is, there is no penalty, because people choose to live in a bubble and not have their views challenged.

Why are you thinking about free speech in terms of things that need to be penalized (or rewarded)?

I encourage everyone to avoid answering that question, it presupposes that the mindset that resulted in such a question is valid on some level and worthy of engagement.

I'm talking about natural selection. You can't have natural selection without the 'selection' part.

More or less agreed so far. Even worse, its also missing the "natural" component.

You can judge on consistency by using some empathy and substituting in Jews, progressives, and Muslims to select some arbitrary left wing groups as opposed to the right wing groups initially named. For people with empathy (and a bit of wisdom) regardless of which side they're on, they can see that its a fundamentally immoral method of argument, regardless of who is picked as today's trendy victim of the sophistry. How can something moral and worthy rely specifically on not using empathy? The response to civilization getting punched in the face by a right fist a century ago should be something like "turn the other cheek" not having bad guys propose "punch back left handed, maybe harder and using computers this time". You're not going to win with a strategy that boils down to being nazis, but more specifically left wing nazis so that means we're not only OK but we're great because I'm sure the other side shares our views that they're deplorable and if we just call them racists or bigots one more time then they'll finally start voting for us. That was quite an empathy fail in the recent election strategy. We tried left wing authoritarianism last century a couple times and it failed every time. Oddly enough it turns out people hate being genocided regardless of being told its to help the left or the right. Theoretically and pragmatically WRT empathy, mislabeling "natural" is just a bad strategy, gonna fail.

Another way its not "natural" is confusing groupthink with observing actual nature or wisdom. For example, today left wing progressive views are extremely popular, near universal in some subgroups echo chambers, in the 30s in Germany somewhat further right views were more popular. Popularity contest results are very interesting but has nothing to do with morality and ethics and right and wrong and the correct way to live a good life. Is the truth of the world that the Earth is flat or round? Did the earth change shape before and after Columbus or just the groupthink? Is the logically efficient and dependable way to determine the result of 2 + 2, to vote on it? In summary don't confuse merely measuring groupthink vs observations and analysis of actual "nature".

So not bad, given a two word phrase "natural selection" its gotten at least three gaping philosophical holes shot thru it.

I couldn't care less. My employer can do whatever he wants with the mad people like I named, but if he does anything other than firing them, I go, don't even think a second.

God the nytimes had become so click-baity, it's sad to see this happening.

Nytimes has jumped the shark. I'm dead serious in saying its days are numbered.

So if your co-worker believes that, for example, black people and gays are subhuman and expresses that view you think that's ok and we should all just put up with it?

This type of setting-a-straw-man-ablaze comment is not good for Hacker News because invariably the rest of the thread catches fire. The bar for civility and substantiveness on sensitive topics is higher, not lower.

We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12998777 and marked it off-topic.

Looks like you're going to troll with a throwaway account, but I'll bite.

Does he express his views at work or somewhere else? If he's professional at work, I don't give a shit what he thinks.

It's just a thought experiment - not sure why you need to be talking about trolling.

So, if this person is professional at work, then you come home, and watching the news, you see a report about a neo-nazi parade, and there this person is, literally on-screen, shouting "burn the niggers*. Is that also ok?

Of course, this is an extreme example, I'm just interested in understanding where the line is, or indeed if there is one, in the minds of people who think it's ok to express any opinion without there being any consequence.

I'm talking about trolling because you're using a throwaway account. That's a bright red-flag if I've ever seen one.

That said, is he professional at work? If he does his job and doesn't discuss shit at work, that's his business. I'm not going to fire someone because of personal beliefs. Yes, that's an extreme example but I'm not going to play arbiter of beliefs because we are quickly going to get into a slippery slope of defining where a line is, who decides, etc. Hell, if half the folks on Facebook had it their way I might not have a job simply because I prefer Trump to Hillary. You see where I'm going with this?

You're welcome to assume anything you want about the account and its nature, I simply don't care.

If it's my personal belief that I am duty bound to try and get this person fired and find legal ways to ruin their life would you be supportive of that? None of this activity would be carried out at work.

By it's very nature, trying to get him fired involves work. If you're trying to cause strife in the workplace that's fireable in my book.

It's interesting how much of a safe space some people want work to be, isn't it?

See, this is where it's clear that you're trolling to push your agenda.

I don't discriminate at work, full stop. I don't care what you do or who you screw so long as it doesn't affect folks at work. The second you start pushing your political agenda at work it becomes a problem. It has nothing to do with a "safe space" and in fact it is in no way a safe space. Work is not a place to talk politics and push your ideals onto society. We all know these "safe spaces" are just a place for a given "side" to espouse their ideology without having to defend it from rational discourse.

If you want to endorse firing people for their online views, next time don't use a throwaway.

I'll do what I want, thanks. I'll also bear the consequences and not whine like a baby.

Your comments have been breaking the HN guidelines. We ban accounts that do that repeatedly. Please post civilly and substantively, or not at all, from now on.

> I'll also bear the consequences and not whine like a baby.

You are using a throwaway account. Clearly you are not willing to be beholden to your words online despite advocating for us to do us.

Work isn't the appropriate venue to have those discussions. Sometimes ignoring junk behavior is the way to handle junk behavior.

If said behavior persists and it's a distraction to the team, disciplinary action should be taken.

I agree, but it's also true that many companies have official (as in HR required training) opinions on certain topics. In that case, there's already a "discussion", but a one-sided one. Maybe it's the right side, but it's not like we really enforce a hard line between philosophy/ethics/politics and work.

If they don't talk about it at work, and don't treat whatever type of people they hate at work differently, then yes, you ignore.

> and expresses that view

In my opinion, it hinges upon the expression. If they are pleasant at work then one day you find their Facebook profile has a racial and homophobic slur, I don't think that's interfering with the work environment. If they say the same thing to you at work, then you can talk to HR.

Unfortunately, by drawing the line here I'm allowing the possibility that you have to work with someone you don't like. Sorry about that. I think that's part of a larger problem, and I'm open to hear solutions for not-liking-someone-but-being-part-of-a-society. When a person is engaging in poor behaviour in the work context, you can use the mechanisms in place to correct that behaviour, but keep in mind that the goal is behaviour correction not crucifixion.

> If they are pleasant at work

I don't think being pleasant has anything to do with this. Perhaps you meant professional?

Assuming that, what if someone is professional at work, but often says at work that they believe black people should be lynched and are subhuman. Is that ok? If it isn't acceptable, why isn't it?


Eh no. They think there's a long, well documented history of abuses against those people and acknowledge that those abuses didn't just fade away — stopping them has taken and will continue to take conscious directed effort against perpetrators of abuse.

The crux of the problem is what it takes to become a "perpetrator of abuse," and we must all be cautious of expanding that group too aggressively.

It's a free country insofar as the government will not put him in jail or otherwise silence him for having those views.

I don't need to put up with those views. He has freedom of speech, but he does not have freedom of venue.

Great, and as it's a free country, it's then perfectly ok to try to get this person fired for those views, right? Or is the freedom limited?

Do whatever you want, but that does not make you a "good guy", just a vindictive weasel.

> I would take a 45 minute dump just catching up on stuff

ROFL. That's 1 long helluva a Dump. Hope you don't have roommates or a large family.

We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13002196 and marked it off-topic.

Probably a dump followed by bowels being open for too long. This is bad for you I've heard. Best to dump n go... and then procrastinate elsewhere.

Word. Your plumber be like "she's overloaded, Captain, she cannae hold out much longer!"

Hating systemd is like hating Hillary Clinton at this point. It's well past time to suck it up and make peace with your next init system/President because the only viable alternative(s) are far worse. - bitwize

haha she lost and so will your beloved init++

LOL. You guys are killing me. Why all the downvotes? HN crowds seems to be a very serious lot.

No toilet jokes we're too high brow around here for that


Consider reading the HN guidelines, unless you are actively trying to get hell banned.


Please explain what guideline this comment violates. I was serious. Quitting the NY Times is the only way they will realize that they made some huge mistakes in the elections coverage.

NY Times was made to look like a fool by this election. Their arrogance will be their downfall. And keep in mind I'm a hardcore liberal, and always valued sources like NY Times. Now I think they are a joke with how they didn't take Trump seriously.

>> Off-Topic: Most stories about politics, or crime, or sports, unless they're evidence of some interesting new phenomenon. Videos of pratfalls or disasters, or cute animal pictures. If they'd cover it on TV news, it's probably off-topic.

>> Please avoid introducing classic flamewar topics unless you have something genuinely new to say about them.

It's totally on topic. The media is telling us to quit social media. Whereas I'm saying we should quit the media. It is also most definitely something new as most people aren't pointing the finger at the New York Times. Both these points should be quite obvious but they weren't as I suspected which is ironic because it led to canned, low value rebuttals.

Always post anonymously on Internet. Nobody wants you to succeed.

The way I help myself with this is I set up different profiles in Chrome. My work one disables JavaScript, Cookies, and Images by default for every site; I enable them only for sites which I need for work. This way, when the reflex to "C-t h a RET" myself to Hacker News comes, I'm instead reminded not to.

Who the F do you think you are to order me around?

That's my immediate reaction to the title.

As it happens, deciding for myself is more important to me than my career assessment by other people.

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