Conflicted about Social Media

Readwise just resurfaced this quote from one of my books:

The digital world is huge and complicated and explosive. It contains wonders and horrors and everything in between. And it is one of the most important arenas of leadership our generation will ever experience. If you are satisfied to lead from the past, stay out of the digital world. If you want to influence the future, brace yourself and get in the fast lane.

So now I’m conflicted. At one time I was engaged with social media: Twitter and Facebook primarily. Over the last 3-4 years I’ve pretty much avoided it except for this forum, which is fantastic.

After reading that quote, I’m conflicted. I believe leaders should stay current and engaged. Yet, based on personal experience and Newport’s books, I have not been inclined to reengage with social media.

I would value thoughtful insights. One caveat, I know all of the privacy issues with Facebook and other social media. ASIDE FROM PRIVACY CONCERNS, do you believe leaders should engage with social media and if so, any “best practices” that you would recommend other than obviously not doing stupid things and shooting oneself in the head?

Message boards are (slowly) going the way of the dinosaurs. Frankly, I think we should just accept our social media overlords as a part of digital evolution and move on.

People I know in leadership positions delegate the task to an employee that manages their social media. They instruct them with what type of message they want to be projected on social media. They can then ask them if they need posts crafting and are not involved in comments and discussions, and receive a monthly report to get an insight into what is happening.

I don’t think doing it directly has much benefit at all, and is a huge waste of time and effort that could be better spent doing more important tasks.


I’ve been conflicted about social media myself. I deleted my Facebook account years ago and have never missed it. I deleted my Twitter account last winter, and actually do miss the connection to the community there. I got rid of it because, for me, it had degenerated into political arguments that had no place in my life. Twitter used to be such a nice place before the entire world discovered it. I tried to reactivate my account at one point and discovered that someone else had grabbed my username that I’d had for years (@ibuys). Just as well, like I said, I missed the community, but I don’t miss the spike in blood pressure I felt every time someone posted a link to “look what horrible thing this person said!”

Now I focus on my RSS feeds and these forums, and honestly I’m a lot happier for it.


If you want to avoid politics, either unfollow the people that post political content, or use mute filters (available in apps like Tweetbot and Twitterrific). I have a looooong list of mute filters, and rarely see any political content at all in Twitter. I feel a bit guilty (like I’m burying my head in the sand and avoiding important issues), but I decided I needed to do it for the sake of my own mental health. Twitter has turned into a nice place for me, where I mostly read about tech content that I enjoy, and sports teams I like to follow.


I tend to agree with the quote, albeit I can’t say I’ve performed very well on social.

Like all things leadership, it depends on how you are thinking about leadership. For instance, if you want to be a leader-executive or a leader-researcher (in a highly niche area), you probably don’t need to engage with social media.

Andrea Ghez, one of the winners of the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics, is not on Twitter or YouTube as far as I can tell. Yet her achievements in exploring astronomy have made a dent in our universe.

Tim Cook, an executive you might have heard of, is certainly not celebrated because of his social media presence.

Yet, whether you see his impact as good or bad, it’s undeniable that Elon Musk’s mastery of modern communications platforms has had a major role in his influence on the world.

Social media’s a tool. It’s kinda like a circular saw that comes without training or a blade-guard. You can use it to build great things, but it takes practice and expertise, it’s really easy to mishandle it, and without taking great care you might cut straight through what you’re trying to build or suddenly require stitches.

I haven’t had time to put in the practice or study, so I avoid using it for the most part. But I do want to find the time, eventually.


Well, as Newport says, will the tool add anything useful for you?

Even with filters, Twitter is too much. Both Twitter and Facebook are a constant barrage of ads, and an admixture of people saying interesting things, and incredibly stupid things. Sometimes in the same breath.
Reddit is better in that things are grouped by topic, but there too there can be a juvenile undercurrent.
I just left Reddit, don’t use Twitter, and have Facebook deactivated but use the messenger app to keep up with a couple of friends.

So I would recommend “don’t” unless there is a very compelling reason, and if you can farm it out, all the better.


I’m praying for a Carrington Event. Perhaps we will be able to asses our current situation better in the technological pause that will create.

I love and miss the old school message board. I keep a PHPBB forum with friends still. They encourage so much more conversation and intimacy of discussion and I remember a golden age of signing up to countless forums and making tons of friends!

Social networks are too transient. Good stuff doesn’t stick around. On old forums you can comb through and enjoy old and new stuff.

The worst is Discord, which seems to be replacing message boards for a lot of people. All that stuff is gonna get lost to time!

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I have a Twitter account that I use as a news feed and only find it acceptable because of Tweetbot and it’s filters. I’d delete my account if I had to use the web or Twitter’s app. OTOH after doing a little research years ago I knew I didn’t want anything to do with Facebook or Mark Zuckerberg so I’ve never used it.

My church has a FB page that I’ve never seen, but we are a university town so I can see how it could be a useful tool for communicating with the youth of the community, as well as adults that use it to keep up with friends and family.

I don’t feel qualified to answer that. I think I’m going to let you discuss this with your boss.

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Well, in this instance, I am the boss, well except at home! :joy:


I was referring to a much higher authority. :wink:

My wife? :rofl:

Seriously, I have and will!


At least Discord allows you to easily search through servers for specific messages.

An executive – a “leader” as you put it – has no business personally interacting in social media. That person is a representative of the organization that hired them. Sometimes, that person is the only face of the organization. Whatever she or he does in social media is going to be carefully watched, measured, interpreted, and judged not as themself, but as the organization for which she or he is the public presence. One small misstep – which is so common and so easy to do in social media – can be damaging and irreparable. Let the marketing or communication arm of the organization handle the social media messaging. That’s why they were hired. If you don’t have a team of social media managers, get one, or hire an agency to handle it.

Sure, be as aware of the social media milieu as you have the stomach for. But, “staying current and engaged” does not mean doing it personally. Sure – monitor trends; monitor what is being said about your organization. Have your professionals react appropriately to negative and positive postings, and if they tell you that’s a bad idea, challenge them to explain why. You cannot control what other people post about your organization, but don’t give them the opportunity to grab onto your own personal postings and twist and turn them.

Anecdote: a CEO of a Fortune 500 company for whom I ran their IT operation was in the habit of flying off the handle on Twitter or, worse, by email – using his own name – and then calling my staff in the middle of the night demanding that we retrieve his messages and expunge them. Not possible. After each incident the SVP HR would go to his office to counsel: “Dave, if it feels good; don’t do it.” The individual never ran another company. There’s always a bit (or a lot) of the exhibitionist in the character of “the boss”. It’s not a good trait for engaging in raw form with the public.


Interesting quote @Bmosbacker. I beg to disagree as in my humble opinion, good leaders are people motivating/encouraging other people to be successful. Digital - whether social media or not - is merely a tool … and often an anti-tool in the wrong hands.

That said, I believe company internal (social) comms channels are there to be used by leaders, with video becoming increasingly important. There is no need to join the herd anywhere else (outside) to be authentic, approachable and “findable”. There are always Sales, Marketing, Corporate Comms or Customer Support to do what needs to get done.

On top of that as an Exec, you have both internal and external visibility, which can be quite different and both are hard enough to curate in real life, let alone in the virtual world with no influence on confusion and perception.

I always say: It’s worth more to have a good chat with someone over a coffee than to share a picture of it begging for likes.

I was an active Social Media user for a long time. decided enough was enough about 2 years ago and funny enough as soon as I stopped using Social Media, I also stopped being conflicted about it and was more open to connecting with people around me in a different way.

The urge to consume, share, like, post, check-in, comment, opinionate, react, appeal and keeping up appearances just magically disappeared. Blis! With that came time to read, reflect, converse, watch and listen (to great podcasts and music too). In short: I gained quality time adding value to my life.

Still have Twitter but rarely use it to post. Most of the people I follow are out of topical interest, not because I know them, or have a need to speak to them.

I like this MPU forum with passionate people and sometimes conflicting opinions, which we all need to respect. I am here because I learn something every day and sometimes I can give something back to the group. So, as far as social media go these days, this forum is my guilty pleasure.

At first, I thought FOMO would drag me back into Facebook, Instagram, Groups and Hangouts, but instead, I feel relieved to have closed down my presence with Facebook and Google and I don’t feel I am “leading from the past”.


It all depends I suppose. As a leader in a church, I found it absolutely necessary to be active on social media (Facebook in particular) because the people I lead are there. Also, it is an opportunity to speak into current situations, often times finding love as opposed to hate (even opposing other evangelical voices who appeal to politics more than theology). Posting what I want helps control what I want to see. It’s taken a lot of pain, but I believe (perhaps naively) that I generally have a healthy awareness of when I’m getting sucked into negativity.

This is all a specific choice though, one that is a part of my output as a person. I do want to see companies on social media (not necessarily leaders). For me it allows me to see what they represent and allows others to interact with them.


I’m very active on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Reddit—but I see no reason why anyone who is not active on social media needs to be.

Many leaders are active on social media. Many aren’t. I see no difference in the leadership abilities of either group.

I’m taking a holiday from my four social media pillars. I’ll probably be back Wednesday. Probably.

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Not to derail this thread (so no responses are necessary) but I just have to say a hearty amen to that. While I do not define myself as an evangelical (I am an imperfect but earnest follower of Christ with Reformed theological convictions), I have been profoundly saddened by the tendency of too many evangelicals to have biblical theology co-opted by politics and politicians–often a politics antithetical to the very theology they espouse. This is not true of the majority of earnest evangelicals–but it is sadly true of far too many, especially American evangelicals. For most evangelicals I don’t believe this arises from bad motives, rather, it is the consequence of a profound theological and biblical illiteracy that leaves them vulnerable to manipulation and emotional appeals. Sadly, they often lack a deep, coherent, and humble biblical worldview to inform their politics.

This is germane to my original post because my concern is having a platform to try to address some of these very issues.


Maybe my pessimism is shining through here, but I tried to accomplish just this with social media and found it was detrimental to me in almost every area and didn’t actually accomplish anything for the others involved. I personally believe that no one’s mind is ever actually changed on social media, it’s changed with 1:1 conversations where nuance can be discussed, and compassion can be felt.

But again, just my opinion. Everyone is welcome to use social media in any capacity they’d like. :smiley:

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