Smartphones need a warning label

“Like 99% of the value that people actually get out of Facebook, if you put distraction aside, probably requires 20 minutes on Sunday.”

Perhaps as a byproduct of my age and the realization that time is not infinite, I’ve often thought about what value I get from certain activities. I still waste too much time on task avoidance, but with the exception of checking Twitter for Island related news, I spend far less time than ever before one (anti-)social media. My guilty pleasure is looking at puppy videos on Instagram in the evening, which has the positive effect of ending the day with a smile or laugh.

There’s a rarefied number of activities to invest time in that are really important and return a lot of value—the amount of value [in these activities] is way higher than, say, the little bit of value you get by seeing a funny Tweet or writing a comment on a friend’s Facebook post. Spreading your time and attention over these low value things takes your time and attention away from the things that are disproportionately higher value.

If you want to maximize the amount of value you feel in your life, the mathematics are clear: You want to put as much of your time and effort as possible into the small number of things to give you these huge rewards. When you think about it that way, fear of missing out looks like, just mathematically speaking, a really bad strategy.

I’ve ordered his book Digital Minimalism to gain more insights into the techno-exhaustion that plagues our always-on, digitally caffeinated culture.

Cal Newport on Why We’ll Look Back at Our Smartphones Like Cigarettes. See also Cal Newport: Why you should quit social media