by Todd Mitchem

Don't get me wrong. I have enjoyed the ride of social media over the last ten years. From the countless posts about politics to my evolution laid out like a journal no one cares about, I found both a headache and laughter in my interactions on social media. But in the end, a realization hit me, and I calculated something terrifying. The other day I sat and estimated how much time I spent on social connectivity technologies for a day. From my daily checking and commenting, to my obsession with trying to figure out and pay for advertising to promote my businesses, (with gave me little to no return by the way) I came to a number that shocked even me. And while I have enjoyed some moments on social media, (I'm talking to you funny dog videos), I have primarily wasted time.

So what did I discover and how could this impact us all?

In the last ten years I wasted, on average, a mind-blowing 180 minutes a day on the top four social networks used most over that period; LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. What I did next is used the average time spent and multiplied by only one year or 365 days, which added to 65,700 minutes on social media a year...wasted time. I then took that number and increased by ten years to get a simple calculation result of  675,700 minutes. When divided by the number of minutes in a day, 1,440, I came back with 469 days or nearly 1.5 YEARS of time wasted in ten years!!! Keep in mind that time did not include the extra moments I answered private messages to repair some damage caused by a controversial post or a phone call to quell some negativity over one that was misunderstood. Just my own time of browsing and commenting added to that unreal number.  Oh and at the same time, I have spent thousands of dollars on advertising that has never worked, not even once to secure a speaking engagement, a new client, or any sales of any kind. Albeit it did feel good to promote my recent TEDx talk for nearly $800 to get almost 700 views, but no one engaged, hired me to speak or even once said, "Thanks, Todd, this was great.", The only return was my ego fed by likes.

Then it hit me, wow, what could I have done with that 469 days of time? Where could I have taken my businesses? How many new connections could I have made in the REAL world? And more importantly, as a person who wants to make a difference on this Earth in the limited time I have, what could have been created at that same time? 

To write this article, however, a little more research was needed. Was my usage over the top? Could it be the time wasted by me was somehow more than most people? Well, as it turns out the answer is no. Statista.com reports that in 2017 the average person spent over 135 minutes a day on social media and that number is up from 127 minutes the year prior. The data also showed that the above average consumer, me, usually used social media between 150 and 200 minutes a day! That means as a human species everyone one of us is wasting between a year and a year and a half for every ten. 

While this may all be surprising to you, remember that the current paradigm of social media promised us so much each time a new outlet was created. We were told these new technologies would connect us to build communities, but now more than ever people report being more depressed because they feel isolated and disconnected. Even an early investor in Facebook, Roger McNamee recently came out and stated Facebook was broken. In one interview I read he was quoted, “Facebook can no longer prevent harm.”  

As a former CEO and Co-Founder of one of these technologies, I can tell you that all of the current social networks and dating sites only want one thing from you, your eyes in the technology for as long as possible. Admittedly I was a huge part of the problem also, but now I will be a massive part of the solution. Remember, current social networks don't care about the community, making the world better or fair representation. That's why they all push advertising, and all sell your data to make money. You are only valuable as a data point, not as a human doing good in the world.

After my research, calculations, and conversation with my wife, I came to one very powerful conclusion, social media as it is today, needed to be removed from my life.  So I did the unthinkable in this era of hyperreactivity social media, I deactivated all my accounts. What will come next for me is not clear, but I felt instantly free. My time was suddenly back in my hands, and for the first time today, I woke to feel less reactive and more creative again. My companies both in the government affairs space and the arena of life-changing presentations will now get a very focused individual ready to work without needing to show off every little achievement. No longer will I be chasing hollow likes. That effort has been suddenly replaced with chasing results that are stratospheric for our clients, and audiences for our presentations. 

I will leave you all with this from my TEDx talk (copied below), "Technology is a tool. A hammer is also a tool that can be used for building amazing things or destroying. Technology can destroy lives, friendships, self-esteem and our culture. But if we all start to see it as a valuable tool that can change. Like a hammer, tech is destructive or constructive based on the user.....and that is all of us. Choose wisely."

You can stay connected to Todd Mitchem on this site or his wife's new project, JoinGooder.com

Is the over technological customization of the human experience damaging our ability to connect with each other truly, and could all this customization be destroying the very fabric of humanity? More importantly, what can we do about this now?