I recently read a statistic that I cannot stop thinking about: More than 90% percent of the data in the world was generated over the last two years.
Read that again. It boggles the mind. In some ways, it makes perfect sense. Compared to the 15th century, we now consume as much data in a single day as an average person from the 1400s would have absorbed in their entire lifetime. During the pandemic, being online was the only way humanity had to stay connected. But 90% of all information that exists? That is a lot of noise.
Are we better for it? The Diamond Sutra, which dates back to 868 C.E., is thought to be the oldest surviving printed book. If all the amazing words written since then haven’t dramatically changed human behavior, what makes me think my social media posts will push the needle?
I recently received a business profile update from Facebook alerting me to low activity on my account. The account for my yoga studio has experienced a noticeable drop in social media engagement, with fewer people seeing and responding to my posts. Social media algorithms take into account hundreds of variables to predict whether users will pause, like, click, comment, share, or hide posts; this prediction is called a relevance score. My relevancy score dropped appreciably last year when I was posting fewer times per week and stopped making videos and responding to every comment. After running the metrics, it was clear that I am irrelevant in the social media world.
The next screen offered advice to climb the engagement ladder again. Did you know that the average U.S. adult only spends 33 minutes a day on Facebook? Don’t miss your chance to reach your audience!
I was advised to post more videos – posts with faces perform almost 40% better than those without faces!
To use more hashtags – at least ten!
To engage with other posts more often – drop a heart to get a heart!
Basically, it boils down to this: the more time I spend on social media, the more my content gets showcased. When I spend less time online, my posts get shown to fewer people.
Out of the almost 8 billion people on this planet, more than half of them are on social media. Every minute of every day, Facebook generates 4 million likes and over 500,000 posted comments.
I feel trapped, forced into using online platforms that take more than they give. I don’t want to eschew social media completely. I still have to market my small business (also, dog videos). But I also suspect that the real work of my life gets pushed aside by the imagined demand to stay active on social media.
How do any of us hear in all this noise?
The word noise arises from 13th-century English, meaning quarreling. Around the same time, it was a French synonym for nausea. Sounds about right. There’s plenty of quarreling online and plenty of reasons to feel nauseous. The answers – at least for me – cannot possibly be found by spending more time online. Remember the statistic that popped up after I ran a metric analysis? Did you know that the average U.S. adult only spends 33 minutes a day on Facebook? I cannot be the only person that is deeply troubled by the use of the word only.
I’m longing for less noise in my life, not more.
I don’t want to be heard above the noise. I want to hear the truth under the noise.
That requires stepping back from my phone. It’s no accident that the words silent and listen are spelled with the same letters. It’s two sides of the same coin; one needs the other.