Monday, 2 December 2019

Social Media Addiction [SOLVED] (Facebook and Twitter)


2 weeks ago I went to a training session on 'Digital wellbeing' for schools. One of the things they discussed was how social media platforms get you hooked. Before that, I'd watched  'The Great Hack' on Netflix - well worth a watch and information from these two occasions got me thinking.
First of all, there is a reason why we become hooked. It's designed that way. Your data is big business, Companies hold about 5000 data points about each and every individual using their services. So when a husband or wife searches for a new mattress, their partner is likely to see that sort of product appear in their ads. They literally know us better than we know ourselves. Our religion, our spending habits, our interests, our political and sexual persuasion, our family members, who our friends are and which ones we don't really like, everything, they know it all. Each share, each like, each angry face tells them something more about you, and it's all collated and used to program algorithms that determine what appears on your 'news feed'. and yours will look totally different to mine or your friends.
Because they know this, they can keep our (and your) feed interesting. Jumbled up, and..... most importantly, infinite.
It's the infinite loop that is key to a part of our addiction. The 'infinite loop' is created from algorithms that keep your feed looking something like this
  • An interesting video from 3 days ago.
  • A funny advert from 2 days ago. (dopamine hit)
  • A friend's post you might find interesting. 
  • An advert you'll be interested in.
  • An other friends post from a few hours ago you might like.
  • A post that will make you happy. (dopamine hit)
  • A post that might anger you
And this, on a loop that never seems to end, even when you plow hours and hours into scrolling up, fresh content is always delivered, dopamine hits are frequent and we continue our scrolling, it's addictive? FOMO anxiety is high (fear of missing out), but primarily we're addicted because it's a well-designed, incredible complex and sophisticated money-generating advertising platform, and we're all simply punters who unwittingly (or consciously) subscribe to it. 

So how on earth are we supposed to stop our minds from wanting more? Well, there is a way but clearly, it's not the default way Facebook and Twitter want you to use, you have to choose it. Many years ago, before social media became super clever, we could log on, check new posts, and then log off wwhen we'd cuaght up, we had no reason to keep scrolling. Life was good.

Twitter, on Mobile devices; Tap the little stars on the top right, and you can change your view to 'latest tweets'. Instead of the carefully manipulated 'top tweets' (which can be 4 or 5 days old that show top) you'll see everything chronologically. If things aren't interesting, unfollow them, or mute them.

On Facebook it's called 'Most Recent'. Tap the three lines and simply select 'Most Recent'. However on Facebook, you've got a back arrow.... to tempt you back to the 'normal' way to see stuff'. Their way, the super addictive way!

Simply changing my 'feed' to these two ways of seeing my stuff has drastically reduced the amount of time I've spent looking, scrolling, refreshing, checking. It's like my addiction is being sated, but reduced dramatically, I know, without checking that I'm not turning it on as often as I used to, My battery today is still on over 50% and it's rapidly approaching time to go to sleep.

Any other tips, on how to reduce the amount of time we spend on social media? Share them below.