Facebook and Twitter are Marketplaces and You’re the Product

Social sites are built around the idea that attention is limited and therefore it can be bought, sold, and traded. When you open Facebook or Twitter, you’re saying this is the best way to spend time right now. This strengthens their product.

But there’s an opportunity cost in terms of lost time that could (and should) go to things that return significantly greater value at a disproportionately less amount of time. The value these platforms have is immediate but short lived.

Infinite scrolling means stretching out the present at the cost of the future. Reading one more tweet means five more lost seconds that could have gone towards time with family or the creation of a new recipe or finishing up that proposal you’re behind on.

What do you truly get out of social sites like Facebook and Twitter? Do they return as much value as you give them? How do you measure that cost?

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