I propose you a simple exercise: scroll through 30 items on your favourite social media wall. Read everything carefully, and try to derive as much information as possible. Analyse the pictures, the memes, and the slogans you see. Did you giggle? If there are too many ads, make it 40 items. How many things you’ve read were written by influencers or generated with an A.I. System? Have you read the commentaries as well? Did you like and follow anyone new?
I did this exercise on two popular platforms where I still have active accounts. One is the most extensive professional network, where people still debate the advantages of working from home versus returning to the office. The second is the platform our parents and early (as in older) millennials hold dear.
The results were underwhelming, but I wanted to scroll more; maybe something of interest would pop out from nowhere to comfort my sensation of void and emptiness. I was thinking about how my fingers are so accustomed to the inertia of scrolling down that they don’t even listen when asked to stop.
The wall on the professional network is almost sad. People generally love to take themselves too seriously in professional environments. This weakness is projected in how they act and talk. It’s like they identify themselves with their jobs too much, and they let themselves affected by this phenomenon.
Let me list my findings:
- Item 1: A recruiter in my local market is looking for a copywriter for a “well-known brand” I never heard of. Around 40 people liked the announcement; the majority of them were recruiters. Nothing to complain about; this is considered a typical encounter for a jobs site that has become a social media platform.
- Item 2: An influencer invites us to like, follow and subscribe to a company website offering “soft skills training”. The training is made of recorded sessions, costing around 60 dollars. I cannot comment on the quality of the materials, but common sense is telling me it’s not something groundbreaking.
- Item 3: A company I heard of is recruiting a Senior Java Developer. It’s a generic role. It’s been the same role since three years ago. It’s called passive recruiting.
- Item 4: A person from across the ocean (relative to where I live), who was laid off six months ago, is looking for another opportunity and asks for likes and shares so he can get better visibility to the companies who are currently recruiting. This is a challenging situation, and I feel sorry for him. I wish him luck; getting fired, and having unpaid bills on the table while your money deposits are dwindling, is a traumatic experience.
- Item 5: A guy who loves to post something every hour shared a picture with a book and a Michael Jordan quote: “If you quit once, it becomes a habit. Never quit!”. No, he is not working for a tobacco company. The quote is remarkably dull and very situational once taken out of context.
- Item 6: A guy posted a tutorial on running zookeeper. It’s a 10 minutes long YouTube video, with 33 views, where he executes the steps from the documentation. The post has one comment: “Thank you for posting!”
- Item 7: A person who identifies as a “Certified Financial Adviser” posts a stock photo (I am not exaggerating; the watermarks are there) and a short quote by James Frick about taking risks and risk management. I won’t reproduce the selection. It’s not worth the risk of losing your time.
- Item 8: A person from my extended network gracefully invites us to view his certified achievement from a cloud provider. It’s 2023; companies still pay money to certify their people on “volatile” technologies. Other than that, congratulations to him; that’s a challenging certification to get.
- Item 9: A “startup co-founder” is posting a rant about how the recruitment process is broken, and he still receives rejection emails years after applying. I don’t believe him, but 227 professionals liked his post. The comments section is messy. A self-described “Ex-Director” believes HR people are leaving their brains at home while working. Other users are posting laughing emoticons. The conclusion is that HR is bad.
- Item 9: A well-known security company is posting about the impending risk of computer viruses spreading inside your company’s infrastructure. They have revolutionary solutions to keep viruses at bay. I have yet to click further.
- Item 10: A Python Developer posts an interesting article about the novelties introduced by the newest python version. I had low expectations initially, but it was a good/opinionated read that kept me occupied for the next 10 minutes. I’ve added the blog feed to my RSS reader.
- Item 11: A programming influencer posted a 112-page document called “A very useful collection of 100+ java programs with detail.” It seems like a long read, but the code needs to be better written and formatted. One hundred seventy-one people appreciate the coding ratatouille. The comments praise the author for his dedication, and the author responds with heart emoticons.
- Item 12: Another person in the business of A.I. (judging by the company he is working for) assures us that “high-status” professionals will lose the battle with A.I., and the future belongs to the amateurs that know how to navigate the new reality.
- Item 13: A company invites me to: “Unlock your IoT potential with our distributed intelligence developer program.” I like how they combine a decade-old buzzword (IoT) with a contemporary one, but discretely.
- Item 14: A meme about the imposter syndrome and the redesign of the Google Chrome logo. Unfortunately, I didn’t find it funny, but it attracted a generous amount of attention (a few hundred likes) and no comments.
- Item 15: A random but aesthetically pleasing picture of blossoming cherry trees accompanied by a heart emoticon. Because of the heavy filtering and processing, it doesn’t look real.
- Item 16: A data science influencer posts pictures with general information about gradient boosting. No mathematical formula is mentioned, but the text is hefty in scientific jargon. It gives me the impression the author needs to learn about what he is speaking about. He repeats terms like “gradients” and “weighted loss function” without making sense. But I am no expert.
- Item 17: A self-described “The Simplifier” encourages us not to mistake simplicity for the lack of depth. He concludes that complexity can be impressive, but simplicity it’s the one that saves the day and the hidden place where the true genius lies dormant. At the moment I am writing this, there are no comments and 30 likes. Did I tell you love (good) complexity?
- Item 18: A self-described “Innovation Leader” encourages us to be careful with whom we share our dreams because some might mistake dreams for arrogance. I was slightly disappointed he didn’t quote Eurythmics, the band. The post doesn’t resonate with me. So I tenderly ignore it.
- Item 18: An extremely popular podcaster asks us some good questions to ask his next guest. Three hundred people have commented. Some of the questions are very good. This podcaster is known for his work on A.I. and for interviewing people I admire Knuth, Stroustrup, and Van Rossum.
- Item 19: A person shared with us that she loves dark chocolate, and a Harvard study found heavy metals in popular brands of dark chocolate.
- Item 20: A job ad for an Android Developer. The title is unfortunate: “Are you an Android Developer who likes to live on the edge? It could be a call for help or a subliminal warning. Living on the edge, it’s not something the average developer aspires to, especially in those times and days.
- Item 21: A software engineer writes about the cases when O(n) is better than O(logn). I am not convinced, but it’s something I would think of.
- Item 22: A UI/UX designer shares that he is in the top 10% of designers worldwide regarding attention to detail. There is an online test for this.
- Item 23: A person I’ve worked with is changing jobs. Good decision. I congratulated her.
- Item 24: A junior developer is looking for an internship or an entry-level job. The message is wholesome. Unfortunately, she classified react, HTML, and CSS as programming languages.
- Item 25: Someone thanked one of his colleagues for going above and beyond (Kudos!).
- Item 26: A recruiter is looking for SAP Hybris experts to join an ongoing project. Remote work is accepted.
- Items 26: A self-described “Communication Strategist” shared an article about how to make your employees feel appreciated. One of the suggestions is to give them shout-outs on social media. This might explain the kudos from Item 25.
- Item 27: A programming influencer explains (in pictures) why multiple inheritance is bad and it doesn’t work in Java.
- Item 28: A Software Developer with more than 20 years of experience is announcing to his network that he decided to quit his job and go full-time freelancer. He invites people to contact him for contracting work.
- Item 29: An ex-colleague of mine changed jobs.
- Item 30: A crypto influencer tells us the 2024 A.I. bubble will be insane.
And here I’ve stopped “analysing” my personalised wall. The algorithm failed to display valuable content. It’s Static Noise, with modest spikes of statistical relevance. So I’ve decided to quit mainstream social media sites. This time for good. Hopefully. Time is a valuable resource. Life is short. Social Media feeds on our time.
Social media, I quit!