A recent New York Times article made the rounds last week titled "Quit Social Media: It Could Save Your Career." Like most tech contrarian articles, it was shared quite a bit. After all, on a social network, hearing someone coming out saying something that swam upstream with common sentiment ("you have to be active online to advance in your career"). 

Was the author right? Like anything, it's a matter of perspective. It's also a matter of what your career is. 

Cal Newport (the author) talked about the addictive part of social. How being tied down to notifications and instant feedback serves as more of a distraction than a service. I totally agree. That said, I don't think social media is the problem. Individual user behavior is the higher culprit. 

It's possible to be active online without investing a LOT of time doing it. Tools like Buffer allow you to share what you're reading throughout the day, making you appear visible all day without the time suck. It's possible to regulate your social use and still be a productive and highly valuable person in your field. A few ideas such as: 

  • Turning off push notifications on your phone
  • Regulating your use to desktop only
  • Only checking notifications once or twice a day
  • Use a tool like Buffer to stagger posts all day without having to be online

Social media has the potential to elevate careers

Just ask someone like Gary Vaynerchuck. He'd probably still be successful without it but not to the level he's at today. 

I would credit what much of the little success I've had in my life so far to social. Using it has opened doors for me. Allowed me to meet people I may not normally meet. Share my thoughts with people who may not have otherwise listened. 

Sure, social could have totally sidetracked me at work or put a damper on my ability to be effective at what I do. And there are times that I've likely fallen into an internet rabbit hole when I should have been working. Posting an awesome photo on Instagram and seeing how many likes it gets. We've all been there. 

Social is a great tool. Like a lot of great tools, it takes self control.

Should you quit social media to save your career? If it's a detriment to your job and taking energy away from places where you need to direct it, maybe so. 

I don't think social in itself is an issue. It's how we use it that becomes an issue. 

Myself? I'm probably not quitting social anytime soon. It's fun and I do get value out of it. Social is also part of my actual job, so it's necessary. If I did something different career-wise, I may have a different answer. 

When my personal social time starts to take more of my time that my actual work or family aren't getting, then I may have to think of ways to cut back.

What do you think? Is social media the problem? Or the user? Or both?