16 Truths About Digital Time and Real Friends

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In his new book, Them: Why We Hate Each Other and How to Heal, Ben Sasse has a terrific chapter on setting tech limits. “At our house,” he writes, “after a healthy wrestling match about the dangerous ways social media tries to pull us away from the communities we care about the most, we put a list of 16 truths up on our refrigerator.” Sasse describes the list as “neither complete nor fancy,” but a helpful way for his family to think about digital communities versus real ones. I found this list full of easily forgotten common sense and good wisdom.

1. Your thousandth social media friend won’t make you any happier. Your fourth real real friend will.

2. Uninterrupted time is life’s most valuable limited resource.

3. Most news isn’t news.

4. Envy isn’t good therapy. Rage isn’t good therapy. Working out is good therapy.

5. Do something now you’ll want to talk about at the dinner table tonight.

6. Political addicts are weird. (And there aren’t that many of them. They’re just loud.)

7A. I’d rather be with the people I’m with right now than with the people I’m not with.

7B. If #7A isn’t true, then spend more time with the right people.

8. Develop the right addictions. (Another word for addictions is habits. Habits determine character.)

9. Not every bad thing in the world requires a response from you.

10. Not every mean thing said to you requires you to acknowledge it.

11. You’re not omniscient. Don’t assume your bubble of information is the whole story.

12. You’re not omnipotent. Taking in bad news you can’t do anything about doesn’t help anyone.

13. Sports Twitter is infinitely better than political Twitter.

14. Lots more social media is fake bots than social media companies admit.

15. The little old lady on your block probably has an important unmet need today.

16. Social media isn’t great for deep stuff. It’s great for humor. Let’s be known as a family that laughs hard. (p. 199)

Good stuff. Might look nice up on your refrigerator. Mine too.

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