Social media is poison

I’ve been in blissful ignorance for many years. I deleted Facebook over five years ago. My wife and I have an Instagram account (which does have some dark sides). But no other accounts.

I never even had Twitter.

Social media is poison

About 6 months ago I set up Twitter for this website. I’ve learnt quite quickly that Twitter is awful.

Perhaps I was naive, and I’m happy to accept that as a criticism. But I am shocked at how bad social media is for you.

I had a lovely afternoon chat with The Escape Artist last week. For the few of you who don’t know who he is, he is one of the ‘big dogs’ of the UK FIRE community. I strongly recommend you to check out his blog.

I asked him for his view on Twitter. He was pithy: Social media is poison.

Bad diet

Eating fast food is bad for you. Consuming social media is bad for you. Twitter is fucking awful. It’s the equivalent of scoffing an XL Doner Kebab from Dodgy Kebab Shop.

Eat burgers every day you get fat. Get all your ‘news’ from Twitter, Facebook all day you get stupid.

I was probably in a bubble, but I now see why people can hold such idiotic views.

I Think You’ll Find It’s a Bit More Complicated Than That

You can’t sum up life in 200 characters. Or a photo. Or a video.

Life is more complicated than that.

When you think you’re getting the whole story on an issue from social media, you ain’t.

Even writers I hugely respect and read voraciously in long form write utter garbage on twitter. Dangerous garbage. Stuff that is flat out wrong. Stuff that willingly misleads the public.

You are being poisoned

Comprehensive explanations don’t sell. Sex does.

It’s sexy to rant. It’s narcotic to be outraged. It’s rock and roll to rave.

But those people ain’t doing it for your benefit. They are doing it to sell you stuff. Everything is a sale. Sometimes they are selling you a product or service. Sometimes they are selling you an agenda. Sometimes they just want to watch things burn.

You have to ask yourself – are those people’s interested aligned with mine?


I was alive to the insidious nature of the ‘twittering classes’. But reading some of the utter bilge spouted about the NYT piece on FIRE has woken me from my dangerous slumber. Funny, isn’t it, that lots of people who make money from managing others’ money don’t like it when people realise they can do it themselves and not get mugged off? In particular, I saw financial planners lay into some FIRE converts tripping over themselves to get a stab in whilst rule number one of financial planning:

Financial planning is about meeting a client’s financial and lifestyle objectives, not the financial planner’s objectives or the objectives the planner thinks the client should have

I don’t think I’ll delete Twitter, it has been very helpful connecting with people. But this week I’ve started exercising the toxin from my life.

I’ve culled the number of ‘people’ I follow. Any bullshit and I’m done. I don’t mean disagree, I follow many people I disagree with, I mean people who are trying to pollute my mind with poisonous information. It was tough to ‘unfollow’ people I really respect as writers and thinkers, but who cast out rubbish on Twitter.

How can you trust me?

You might be thinking, all sounds great, but how can I trust you Mr YFG?

Good question. You need to ask yourself, are your interests aligned with mine? Will reading this blog help you, or hinder you?

I do this because I want to help people with their finances. I’m not selling anything. I’ve never marketed this website. I’ve never done any promos or any of that SEO stuff (I don’t know how all I’ve got is some plugin that tells me whether I’m doing alright on that stuff).

If you’re here you are here by word of mouth. If you’ve stayed, you’ve stayed maybe because you see some good in this humble blog.

Cut the emissions

My ask of you is this: find the sources of toxic information in your life and purge it. Stop feeding the polluters the oxygen that allows them to burn their rotten garbage and poison our society.

The evidence is unequivocal. You will be happier. You will be better for it.

All the best,

Young FI Guy

16 thoughts on “Social media is poison

  1. Hey YFG – while I agree some uses of social media are not great, writing it all off as poison seems a little like simple black and white thinking without appreciating the nuances.

    Do you write off all books because you find Mein Kampf abhorrent and FiftyShades trashy?

    I agree that now brands have populated social media it is used for marketing a lot – but there are also tons of good uses. Politicians can now communicate with the electorate more easily, families can keep in touch and everyone now has the modern day equivalent of their own box at speakers corner. The ability to connect to like minded individuals around the world is priceless.

    1. Maybe it sounds black and white. Social media can be good, I acknowledge that. But in too high of a dose it is a bad thing (like TEA says). Sugar can be good for us, but too much can lead to diabetes. I was consuming too much social media and it was bad for me. What I hope is that people work out the what works for them.

  2. I too, just got Twitter for blogging. I have had to force myself to try and use it. I resigned myself to the fact that I must not know how to use it correctly because I don’t seem to be getting any enjoyment out of it, but if you’re still feeling that way after 6 months then maybe I shouldn’t hold my breath!

    It has been useful to try and connect to other bloggers, I seem to have had no success with the hashtagging malarkey though. I tried to delete Facebook, but I missed the groups like the London FI group too much D: hate all of the other stuff!

    1. Hi SavingNinja, good to hear from you. It’s about finding the right levels. I’ve used Instagram daily for years, and it’s OK. I think for Twitter I have to be very careful about who I follow – I was very naive. Great writers who I really enjoy are completely different on Twitter, probably because they don’t have editors to stop them from being complete douche canoes. For Facebook there is no safe level for me, that’s why I deleted it.

  3. I don´t think the problem is the platform per se but I find it difficult to extract any value out of Twitter. I have tried a couple times but I gave up. It seems that you need to be constantly connected to filter through the incredible amount of tweets. But then again I connect to Facebook maybe once a week or so, I’m not on Instagram…

    If I find a way to make it work I´ll definitely give Twitter another try. I think it could be good especially when you are putting content out there. Maybe somebody got here because of a tweet ?

    Oh man! I´m always out of town when the meetups happen. Bummer.

  4. Facebook (for me) is for family, friends and ex-colleagues. I hardly ever post but since my mum’s on there too, I guess it’s comforting for her to see the occasional picture of her daughter living some 6000 miles away (gotta be careful of drunk photos posted up by my friends haha!) and it’s a good way for me to see how my nieces and nephews are doing. My friends complain that it takes me ages to ‘like’ their posts/pics because I’m not on it every day.

    Twitter I created for my blog only, so that I could follow other bloggers or newsgroups and tweet whenever I update my blog. I’ve vowed to myself not to follow more than 100 people/websites so I am constantly adding and culling. I also don’t spam people to get them to read my posts – I’ll tweet once and if people have missed it, well that’s just unlucky for me. I’m not interested in how many followers I have – if someone follows me, I don’t automatically follow them unless I like what they have to say or like their blog. Likewise, I don’t unfollow someone just because they don’t follow me back immediately – I don’t really get what that’s all about?

    I see social media as both good and bad and I’d like to think I have a positive relationship with it all right now.

    As for a London meet, as mentioned to Fire In London who I believe attended the recent one, I’d like to attend one myself at some point but would have to justify it cost-wise or it’d eat into my savings rate, haha! Plus, I’d have to take the day off work, with it being on a Friday.

  5. Have a twitter account. Almost never use it.

    Facebook I do use as it is the only really reliable source of what’s going on locally. But I use the unfollow button mercilessly as I found was responding to posts/people who I liked, but had no real connection with outside of Facebook anymore (eg ex-colleagues). I rarely post anything on it. Add in lots of blockers for ads/news feed etc and it’s a relatively useful tool now.

    Discussion forums were a major time suck for me. I had to go cold turkey on some of them.

    Mainstream news is also now relegated to a glance at Telegraph, Guardian and BBC home pages with the odd article read. Rarely anything political. I don’t watch TV news at all.

    Also keep all of the apps off my phone. Even managed to ween myself off work email.

  6. Hey YFG,
    I’ve found social media had deteriorated over the past couple of years, through the appalling combination of commercialisation/ monetisation and the rise of ‘influencers’. To my mind they’re this generations groupies. I’ve never had Instagram, don’t see the point, but many of my mates think it’s weird that I don’t. Facebook seems to be populated by adverts and older generations sharing 5 year old GIFs, but remains useful for events. I’ve found Twitter useful for my academic work but it’s not linked to my blog and there’s plenty of slanging matches going on.
    In my work I’ve seen plenty of people, kids particularly, because of low mood or anxiety related to social media. Comments or derogatory videos shared among peer groups. People aspiring to be the unachievable images they see.
    It’s all just noise.
    Much better to stop and enjoy your surroundings and the moment.

  7. Social media should be about people or organisations having something interesting to say. But it’s become a firehose of signal boosting, where all media consultants say you should post every day. As no person or organisation is that interesting, it’s badly broken. Bloggers take note too, less is more. At least you only post considered articles, don’t be tempted to be Diamond Geezer… Twitter is amount the worst, RSS feeds still have value

  8. I had a Twitter account from 2006 (that makes me an early adopter) – never used it much.
    Logged in a while back to find out that it had been hacked by some Russians and I was spouting social media nonsense for years – nothing political but sort of retweeting things about The Only Way is Ekaterinberg.

    Social media is rubbish and the worst feeling is when you are with friends but all of them are stuck staring at their phones. in a group of 4, 1 doing it is rude, 2 is barely acceptable, 3 is sad and 4 is the new normal.

  9. A completely different negative is the potential for harm boomeranging back to you when you casually make information about yourself public knowledge forever. Most people aren’t aware of the all the risks this entails. I have a relative with a small business who was recently targeted by scammers who used bits of information about them gleaned from various posts which enabled them to try and steal my relative’s identity. What followed was one of the most stressful years of their life as they fended off wave after wave of attacks until the scammer(s) gave up.

    This only ended well because another relative had excellent IT skills, the scammers were relative amateurs and my targeted relative had actually been relatively disciplined about revealing information generally. (beyond what is unavoidable when running a business) But this event did give a frightening lesson in how easy it is to lose your identity and how hard it is to clear up the mess. The cost in time, money and stress is disproportionate and most depressing was how lax third parties interactions are; they barely had an interest as long as they made a sale, so didn’t check details closely. This threat ought to be compulsorily taught even in schools, seeing as students are already targeted as money mules in university to launder dirty money.

  10. FIRE really ought to be easier in the UK than the US. Americans often live in fear of ruinous medical bills: it’s less of a problem for us.

    Or, when I read that Mr X has FIRE’d but his wife continues with her job, should I guess that her job’s “benefits” include medical cover for the whole family?

    I assume that in both countries the eventual cost of “Care” is left out of most people’s calculations. But then that is likely to be just as true of people who retire at state pension age, I suspect.

  11. I think Social Media is positive for small business and connecting family and friends. But like yourself, I don’t use my personal FB account anymore.

    It’s become dark and sinister. What’s really the truth? Are we the outliers for not having an online presence? Is it more dangerous to be out, than in?

    A social media dominated society encourages over emotional individuals, they play on our weaknesses. You gotta be good at the social media ‘game’. So, in a society where the availability and the cost of things is so heavily influenced by charisma and social success, the consequences of being quite the opposite are not so good.

    Not forgetting the ‘influence’ it has on elections…

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