Most probably you will read this on your phone with numerous notifications lurking around for your attention which will prevent you from reading this completely. If you had clicked a link to reach here, the link would be from Facebook, or Twitter, or LinkedIn, or some other social media site. There is nothing I can write here which can make you use social media sites less frequently. I have close to zero persuasive power to ask you to keep your phone away and do something better with your life. But, let me give another try.
I wrote about a book I had read a couple of years ago: Deep Work by Cal Newport.
The book just said one thing: If you want to do become better at something, cut off all the distractions you can and do the actual work. The major distractions we have right now are not just external anymore. They are right in front of your eyes all the time: Social media sites and phone apps.
So I recently watched the Netflix documentary ‘The Social Dilemma’. It has a bunch of interviews with people who were the founders or part of the tech team of various social networks and social media sites and they all primarily say the same thing: Social Media is highly addictive. It is meant to eat up your time without you noticing it. It is programmed to keep you hooked up with things, it thinks, that you might find interesting. The infinite scrolling, the never-ending recommendations, the incessant notifications, and the unforgiving social and political impact on you is what keeps you online all the time. The more time and data you give it to them, the more it would lure you towards it.
We all know that already. We know that our search is customized to our geography and demography. You know that even hinting to your browser something will result in you getting bombarded with ads. Sometimes, even thinking makes your ads change, although it is a bit far fetched as of today.
If you were not aware of the above, consider this as a wake-up call. If you want to hear from the horse’s mouth directly, do check the documentary out.
Now, I don’t hate any social media site. (Can just hate people directly). If I am working for Facebook, my job would be to have people stay online on Facebook all the time. I would leave no stone unturned to make more and more people join the site. What’s wrong would be to consider everything up there to be the truth. What’s wrong would be to not read multiple sources. What’s wrong would be to devote all my time to these sites and leave no room for actual human connection which can happen offline. I have gained immensely from social media and there’s no denying that. Instead of blaming them, we have to look within to see how much influence we have got from it and not the other way around.
Some tips to become better:
- On your browser, use an extension called: Nudge. It can help you block the site you find addictive for a certain period of time on certain days.
- I log out deliberately after I use the sites to make them difficult to use.
- This is my Facebook Home Page after enabling Nudge.
- On your phone, you needn’t remove the apps, but disable all the notifications. On my phone, the only notification I get is the Phone, work email, and SMS for OTPs.
- I have set timers on my phone which limit the usage in the same way they work on the browser.
We cannot stay away from social media without giving up certain benefits they offer. But we can certainly make informed choices. The Social Dilemma reiterates the same thing pretty well.
“There are only two industries that refer to their customers as ‘users’. That’s the IT and Drugs industry.”Edward Tufte