TED: Cal Newport

This week’s talk is a TEDxTalk filmed during the 2016 TEDxTysons that took place on September 19 in Tysons, VA, under the general title of Future Tense.

We all have one or more social media accounts, right? Well, not all of us. In his talk, Cal Newport explains why he doesn’t -and why you shouldn’t, too (but before he explains that he is okay, that not having social media accounts is not the symptom of a contagious disease).

When he suggests we quit social media, he usually gets three objections in response:

  • social media is one of the fundamental technologies of the 21st century.
  • you can’t quit social media if you want to succeed in the 21st century economy.
  • social media is harmless, you can do it just for fun.

In his talk, Cal tries to defuse those objections with the following arguments:

  • social media leverages some fundamental technologies but it’s better understood as a source of entertainment.
  • in a competitive 21st century economy, what the market values is the ability to produce things that are rare and are valuable.
  • social media can permanently reduce your capacity to do exactly the type of deep effort that we’re finding to be more and more necessary in an increasingly competitive economy.

In his conclusions, Newport indicates that his social media diet has made him way more productive, and that outside of work things can be quite peaceful.

Cal Newport is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Georgetown University. In addition to studying the theoretical foundations of our digital age, Newport also writes about the impact of these technologies on the world of work. His most recent book, Deep Work, argues that focus is the new I.Q. in the modern workplace and that the ability to concentrate without distraction is becoming increasingly valuable.

Additional reading: Quit Social Media. Your Career May Depend on It. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/20/jobs/quit-social-media-your-career-may-depend-on-it.html?mcubz=3

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