The Case Against Platforms

Anything that you can do online offline, do offline.

There are two related reasons for this. The first is simply that we spend too much time looking at screens. Unless you work is dominated by activities that are physical in nature, the likelihood is that you will spend at least 10 hours a day starting into the sweet caress of that blue light. It means more sitting, more bad posture, more time with hunched shoulders and strained eyes. I think that the damages of this dependency go far beyond the well-documented effects on sleep, however. This brings me to my second point, which is about the dangers of letting a platform determine your work. By adopting technology so deeply and freely, we forget what limitations are created by the platforms we choose. Microsoft Word may be more or less content agnostic, but Instagram certainly isn’t. Beware of the preferences created by the platform Instagram, for example, would have you think that everyone is either a model or just snapped a photo looking out the door of their tent in paradise.

Beyond that, platforms have their own intentions. Almost all of them push content against advertising. Their primary goal will be time spend engaging with the app. 

In the simplest of terms, time spend = money made. 

By necessity, that will mean that the content will not be satisfying, but rather will leave you wanting more. If the app truly satisfied you, you would close it and move on to to doing something else.

While Twitter can be a good place for long-form investigative journalism, where Twitter is most engaging is in live reactions to events (lately the firestorm that is our government) and sharing memes. Pointless? Often not, but almost always unsatisfying. Even if you did find a great piece of something deeper and more satisfying, you might be just as likely to save that for later and keep scrolling on. Ad based platforms litter their apps with candy content. So even though their is certainly good, wholesome food on platforms and social media, you have to eat all the candy to get to it. More often than not, we just save the good stuff for later (and sometimes never get around to it, there’s now a thousand new tweets to look at).

More than anything, ad-based platforms want you to scroll to the next post, which could well be an ad.