The Social Media Exchange: The Unconscious Trade We All Make Many Times a Day


I would play with my dog, but I think I’ll check Facebook first. Cha-ching. I have this funny idea, but instead of sharing it with my co-worker, I’ll just post it on Twitter. Cha-ching. I would try to resurrect this stuttering conversation, but I need to see how many likes my latest Instagram post has accumulated first. Chaaaaa-ching.

Many times throughout the day, we exchange our time and energy for social media currency. We’re not even aware that we’re trading most of the time. And sometimes, our social media trades are bad business.

I love social media. The connections, ideas, and opportunities it creates are revolutionizing the way the world works at every level. But as I hoard notifications, retweets, and likes, I worry about the effect of social media on the moments of our lives—the ones we’re missing.

I use my phone as an alarm, and when I wake up I almost immediately check my email, social media, and texts. But while I mine my precious social currency on my phone, I’m missing the sunlight streaming in through the window. I’m missing the sounds of the morning. I’m not remembering what I was dreaming about in the night.

We may not think of it as such, but our time and energy are the most valuable currencies we have. We only ever have this moment once, and then it’s gone. We only have today once.

We should drive a hard bargain for our most valuable resource, but often times we trade it away without even thinking. I think we’ll have had the experience of consciously logging out of Facebook and then inexplicably finding yourself back on it a few minutes later.

When we check Facebook instead of talking to the person next to us, is that a good trade for us? Are we hard-wiring ourselves to document our experiences instead of simply enjoying them?

I attend a meditation retreat every year where I turn my phone off and leave it off for 14 straight days. It gets harder every year, but it also becomes more necessary every year. The present is where life happens. It’s the only thing we ever have.

Sometimes social media is just bad business—for ourselves and for the people around us. I’d like to gently suggest to you—and to myself—to be a little more mindful of when you’re mining for social media gold. Turn your phone off for an hour, if you dare. What does your apartment really sounds like? What does your office smell like? How did the sun feel on your face on the way to the subway? Life is measured in these moments.

Drive a hard bargain, friends. Your time and energy is the most valuable currency you have.