Six months without social networks

📅   18. 07. 2022
👤   Jan Barášek
Over the last six months I have gone through a mentally challenging period, when dozens of events took place in the background that were better not shared and dealt with internally. During this hiatus, I have gained a lot of time to think about the underlying issues. Many of them I now have answers to, but for the rest I have come to understand that the specific answer doesn't matter that much and it is better to leave things open as they are. There will always be a solution - not always a good one, but a stable one.

During this hiatus I have also experienced events and realizations that I do not want to share with you.

If you have some time, I would be happy to go through at least a few of the topics that should be covered in this post together. A number of these were the subject of a break that helped rediscover inner peace.

People and likes don't exist on social media. It's not about real friends

I was wondering how many contacts that I only know as an icon somewhere on the internet a person can care about and who is a real friend. One day I simply deactivated my user account here on Facebook, but with the option to write a private message via Messenger. Suddenly it went from 20 checked messages a day to 5 messages a month where someone wrote because they remembered themselves. Then you can start to think that no one misses you and you actually have to keep reminding and imposing. I'm not enjoying this game.

Conclusion: people often don't actually care about the internet and consume your content superficially. People are very selective about what they read and you can get a built up reputation from one day to the next. Likes, shares and comments on social media don't reflect the reality of our world. Internet friends are not your real friends. Don't invest your time in activities that yield almost no results and cannot benefit you in the future. If you create content for social networks, the reason people will write to you is mostly because they need something themselves, but they provide no value in return. Responding to such messages will bring you relatively little in the long run.

I've often achieved the best results in the simplest and most straightforward way

Whether it's business contacts, friends and opportunities. In 10 years of using social media, I have only gotten 3 relevant clients/contacts from social media. Everything else has been from other sources such as the web, personal referrals or real world encounters. People often overvalue social networking.

I think of social networking as a fake advertisement for life

Very few people share what's really going on and what they think. In particular, I see Instagram more as a showcase of life's achievements, with people liking each other's photos with the feeling that they'd like to live that life too.

It makes more sense to me to not play mask and share things as they are. I know that sharing negative things is often the reason I stop following specific people, on the other hand it makes us real people.

I'm focusing a lot on real world experiences this year and it's really worth it. I recommend giving it a try. ;)

I don't read other people's posts and just some of the comments

You can divide people into "Creator" and "Consumer" groups with a very coarse filter. For me personally, the first group is more interesting because it brings real value and moves the world forward. I know not everyone wants to create things and move things forward, which is a perfectly valid view of life, but pretty boring.

Before my hiatus from social media, I used to take the critical comments very badly, and they started to increase. On the one hand, one still wants to validate one's opinions and world view, on the other hand, one doesn't want to live in a world where one tries and gets criticism every time.

Conclusion. Not all criticism is helpful. When evaluating feedback, I put the most emphasis on who writes the comment rather than the actual content of the comment. In theory, it may mean ignoring a person who is right but irrelevant - on the other hand, there are so few of these cases that it doesn't make sense to review everything because of it. I'm perfectly fine with moderating the discussion. I like going to networks where there are people who can argue the point and we can push each other.

Heroism and value

It's interesting to see the trends of what's popular on social media and what has real value but little reach.

Rather than looking for artificial value in beauty, superficial entertainment and trends, it makes much more sense to me to follow and interact with people who are doing what fulfills them and are comfortable with it themselves. The problem with these people in particular is that they often live in seclusion or don't post online, so it's hard to make connections. On the other hand, it makes it all the more valuable.

Genuineness and honesty is of more value than online heroics. Until you understand this, you can't experience a sense of true happiness and flow.

Honesty with another, even if it hurts

In 2022, I came full circle to React. Actually, my friend Paul kicked me into it, which helped me to skip maybe 3 years of gradual exploration and going down blind alleys. Within half a year I managed to learn React, the related Next.js framework, Vercel, Redux, and dozens of libraries to a certain level.

In fact, this was the point where I gradually started to leave the world of PHP, Vue (which is still good, but nowhere near as good as React), and most importantly, throwing away old code.

This process hurt a lot internally. Like, really a lot.

After 10 years of developing basically one core technology, you suddenly start thinking about how to throw away most of the old work while pissing off as few people as possible.

Because suddenly you're faced with the question of how to explain that the situation has changed, and the solution you presented as the best just last year is actually deprecated and you should switch to something else. This chapter has led to more than one argument where I have been labeled **** more than once.

On the other hand, it pays in the long run not to lie and to tell the unpleasant truth, lose some clients and move on rather than play a mask that will slowly eat you up internally until it destroys you.

Leaving 6 clients in exchange for 2 big ones is a practical solution

A year ago, I faced a problem where I was delivering an e-commerce solution to a client that I could no longer fund in-house and at the same time the client didn't have enough funds to pay a full-time developer. Unfortunately, it was my mistake because I initially offered the solution as a ready-made ecosystem that he could use only for a rental fee.

In general, I see the issue of making a quick jump into entrepreneurship at a young age in a rather ambivalent way.

On the one hand, by doing so, one quickly builds up a pretty solid overview of various things in the world, and gets into a great habit of working and problem solving. On the other hand, he lacks experience, a pragmatic point of view and just "shoots". In 2019, I went through a period when there were few relevant orders that I could deliver myself, so I took a lot of risks and some cases did not pay off. For example, the aforementioned mistake of offering a complete solution in an area one only understands from certain perspectives.

Personally, I still think entrepreneurship is the best start to a career when you know what you are doing and what you want. It's one of the few ways to not get into the Rat Race (assuming you don't volunteer there), and to still be relevant in a few years. Almost nowhere else do you learn to take responsibility for things and actually deliver, even imperfectly, but deliver. I find the current young generation of developers (or specific pieces I know) who get hired, or I've worked with, very unstable in terms of reliability. Maybe that's what each generation thinks of the next, but I can't decide.

Entrepreneurship has taken a lot out of my personal life and experiences. I've paid a little bit with my health. On the other hand, it's been very worthwhile, even at the cost of unfortunately breaking things occasionally.

Conclusion: you have to learn to live with the fact that you break a lot of things. When you are the person in charge of a project, you will solve problems you never dreamed of before. It's only with business and delivering big projects that you'll understand how intrinsically complex things really are. Simple downplaying or pigeonholing simply doesn't make sense. When you bitch at a company for getting something wrong or something not working, always remember the level of complexity they have to deal with internally.

Lesson: If you plan to make a living as an agency, always let the client know up front what the risks are. What happens if. What is the likelihood that you can deliver the project as promised. Always prove competency on a particular project with a reference to another project you have handled in the past. If you are tackling a new type of project where you are unsure of the success of delivery, it is fair to tell the client up front, even if it may mean giving the contract to someone else. You may lose money at that point, but you won't lose hundreds of hours of overtime dealing with a mess you don't know how to get out of.

Experience: you'll never be good unless you make a lot of your own mistakes and failures. You have to understand that this is part of the journey. If you can, consult your ideas and conclusions with someone who is relevant in the industry. Never plan a project in such a way that a probable failure can hurt someone. Never invite more than 30% of juniors into a project, it will turn out badly.

Conclusion

I deliberately choose the holiday season to write this article so that it has a rather smaller reach. The reason is that it will reach a smaller group of people whose comments I don't want to read. This is because Facebook has a tendency to show the post to people it knows have a different viewpoint than you and thus provoke discussion.

I've gotten to know a bunch of really really nice people in the last six months. The interesting thing is just the fact that it happened outside of social media. I'm actually starting to enjoy getting to know people in person a lot. Because when I open a person's profile from a discussion board, I'm often impressed by the amount of friends, references, work experience and so on - in short, straight sales. But when you meet someone in person at an event or at a company, you don't know anything about the other person. All that's left is how he or she treats you, how they respond to questions, how they discuss things, and what their perspective is on the particular issues you're dealing with. Suddenly the pretense and artificial "advertising" of the internet stops working and there is nothing left to do but be honest and genuine.

Because that genuineness is something that the internet really lacks a lot and always will.

Jan Barášek     More about the author

The author works as a senior developer and software architect in Prague (Czech republic, Europe). He designs and manages large web applications that you know and use. Since 2009 he has gained a wealth of experience which he passes on through this website.

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