On one hand, the internet is the greatest democratization of leverage ever invented.
On the other, it is a cesspool of base instincts, hate, and distraction.
How does one win on the internet, but not get sucked into its trappings?
It comes down to 2 things:
- Understanding the attention economy and
- Treating the internet as a tool, not as entertainment.
You want to be what Cal Newport calls, a Digital Minimalist. Putting you closer to a digital monk, than an outraged member of the Twitter mob.
The quickest way to understand whether a company is in “attention economics”, is if you cannot quickly tell what their product is – or if it is “free” to use. YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn & Twitter are all free to use, but the business model requires you to stay glued to their platform so you can be fed more ads. As the businesses evolved, this model led to optimizing for addictive qualities on the platform.
Once you understand this you can schedule your usage on a platform, with intention, and start using it like a tool. Because it can be a powerful form of permission-less leverage. For example, in the future I will sell low-cost educational content online – but I have only a small following. To grow, I post on LinkedIn & Twitter through a website called typeshare.co once a week, trying to provide valuable information there – and logging in to interact with people a couple times a week.
Done right, it is possible to gain the upside of the internet while slipping the down-sides.
What guard-rails do you have in place for your internet usage? Leave a comment below.
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Well said, Kevin!! I’m a big fan of tools that measure and limit usage of time wasters (eg instagram) – what’s measured, gears managed!