The Hazards of Social Media

Bad news today. Social media is not the panacea the media has made it out to be. In fact, in many cases, it can do more harm than good.

So while I do like social media and get new blog readers from it, please allow me to share the three most common hazards of social media.

Hazard #1: Kiss Your Productivity Goodbye!

Between Facebook, Twitter, and StumbleUpon, it’s a wonder anybody gets any work done online these days. Employers know it, too. That’s why many of these sites are now blocked on work computers.

With social media, one thing leads to another.

You innocently drop in to update your status — then get sidetracked and follow dozens of interesting tidbits of information. Next thing you know, an hour of your time has vanished.

Poof! Just like that.

Hazard #2: Sacrificing True Friends for Imaginary Friends

Social media encourages dozens of casual encounters with people you don’t know every single day. It might feel like friendship, but somehow it’s not.

Unfortunately, social media has a tendency to keep people from investing in the true friendships they already have.

Instead of sitting down to coffee, social media junkies exchange one-liners with strangers — and then secretly wonder why they feel lonely.

Hazard #3: Becoming Intoxicated by Your Own Pseudo-Fame

Why is social media such a juggernaut in the 21st Century? Because with social media, all of a sudden everybody is a celebrity.

I may not know you from Adam, but if you have 20,000 followers, it’s going to look like you’re somebody (even if you aren’t).

That’s why I call it pseudo-fame. It’s a little like being famous, but far short of the real thing. (By the way, many famous people wish they weren’t famous. That should tell you something.)

A Better Way…

If you’re going to be investing time online, I suggest you do something that provides you with a monetary benefit — and not just a transient ego boost.

One of the most valuable skills you can learn is the skill of copywriting. That’s just a fancy way of explaining how to get people to buy through the written word.

And, if you think about it, words are what drive the economy of the Internet. Every sales letter, every sales video, every sales email is powered by persuasive words.

If you’d like to strengthen your copywriting skills, I highly recommend the work of Claude Hopkins, especially Scientific Advertising. You can get a copy on Amazon for $15 or so.

And, of course, you can also get my perspective on copywriting at Copywriting Code. Before you publish another tweet or status update, hurry on over and check it out now…

-Ryan M. Healy

Ryan M. Healy

Ryan Healy is a financial copywriter and the author of Speed Writing for Nonfiction Writers. Since 2002, he has worked with scores of clients, including Agora Financial, Lombardi Publishing, and Contrarian Profits. He writes a popular blog about copywriting, advertising, and business growth, has been featured in publications like Feed Front magazine, and has been published on sites like,, and

KevinCu - March 15, 2010

Do you have his other book and what is it's title?

Ryan M. Healy - March 15, 2010

Yes, I have both of Hopkins' books. The other title is My Life in Advertising. It is usually published in a single volume with Scientific Advertising.

KevinCu - March 15, 2010

Fascinating reads, and who said to study Hopkins, read his books seven times? :-)

KevinCu - March 15, 2010

You da Man!! We're da Men!! :-)

Dan Sherman - March 15, 2010

It was David Ogilvy who said no one should have anything to do with advertising until they had read Scientific Advertising at least 7 times.

Dan Sherman - March 15, 2010

Timely post. I've been reconsidering how much of my day I've been investing in social media. It feels like networking, but it's really not.

JosephRatliff - March 15, 2010


Good post…and I think the “hazards” you mention are certainly true, to an extent.

With Hazard #1, I think you have to have a focus and a set amount of time to use Social Media to your advantage. In other words, a plan. I've had a number of social media conversations that turned into solid dollars for everyone involved…so with focus, it doesn't become a hazard ;)

Now, the important thing is what you do AFTER that conversation online…where do you take that conversation?

To the phone? To a coffee place so you can sit down and talk face to face? Whatever happens, contacts that are made in the Social Media MUST graduate to personal contact to avoid Hazard #2. I've developed solid relationships (business and personal) that started from conversations in the Social Media.

As for Hazard #3…well…I guess we all have to do a “check up from the neck up” from time to time to make sure we're not thinking more of ourselves than we should be right?

Good stuff dude. :)

Colin Y.J. Chung - March 15, 2010

So absolutely true. I leech-blocked all those sites between 5 AM and 5 PM and then, for the coup de grace, I put a 15 minute cap on it. Once those 15 minutes are up, it blocks them.

(In case anyone is wondering, leechblock is a Firefox extension you can download to block sites at certain times and days)

Carol Riess - March 15, 2010

Insightful, as always.

Jonha Revesencio - March 22, 2010


Those were really spot on, couldn't have written it better. I always have to deal with my addiction to Social Media to the point that I often find myself fruitless and hooked in ego-boosting and often useless discussions with friends. And yes, I struggle with drawing the line between virtual and virtuous friends. And again, right about spending some time on much more important and profitable things instead. I could not discount the good things that these platforms provide. Sometimes they're too good that they often end up result into bad, haha.

Jonha Revesencio - March 22, 2010

$15? I could get Seth Godin's book at only $9. I assume it would be worth checking out though

Ryan M. Healy - March 23, 2010

Actually, you can get the book for $10.17 on Amazon right now. Hopkins is VERY different from Godin. Plus, you get two books in a single volume — only $5.09 per book! ;-)


Ryan M. Healy - March 23, 2010

Actually, you can get the book for $10.17 on Amazon right now. Hopkins is VERY different from Godin. Plus, you get two books in a single volume — only $5.09 per book! ;-)


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