Too much time on social media
Dear Annie: I love technology. I embrace it and think that it adds value to my life and pushes the human race forward. However, I am not totally sure that my consumption of “social” media and constant use of my phone is a good thing.
I didn’t think of myself as overly addicted to my phone until recently. I saw a piece on “60 Minutes” about how some consumer software companies actively try to get users addicted to their applications via psychological cues, such as notifications and likes. I then read a piece in Fast Company about a freelancer who did a one-month digital detox and saw his productivity skyrocket. Finally, that same week, I read a research piece from Harvard Business Review that essentially said that the more time we spend on Facebook the more it bums us out.
I realized that social media may have been making me feel bad about myself. I was staring at doctored photos of the highlights of my “friends'” days. I don’t want to put unnecessary rules and limitations on myself, but I also don’t want to live my life staring at a screen and feeling jealous constantly.
How should I handle this? Ditch the iPhone for the flip phone? Delete Instagram from all mobile devices? Write a manifesto about how technology is slowly zapping our creativity? Or just give in and play another round of “Candy Crush”? — Digital Dependence
Dear Digital Dependence: More evidence surfaces each day of the negative impact our devices are having on us. When technology diminishes our relationships with loved ones and distracts us from the things that truly matter, it’s no longer a tool; it’s a toxin.
Fortunately, there are a few tricks you can try for cutting down on your internet use without moving to Walden and throwing your smartphone in the pond. One is to frequently change the way apps are laid out on your phone’s screen. This prevents you from going on autopilot and compulsively opening apps without even being conscious of it (a scary but common phenomenon).
Another method is to keep your phone out of sight and out of mind for large chunks of time. Similarly, try turning off all notifications so you’re not constantly being lured into checking your accounts. If you need to be on your computer for work but don’t want to get distracted, try a program that blocks social media sites for a set amount of time, such as SelfControl.
And if you’re reading this on your phone, put it down and go for a walk.
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