How can we make social media a nice place where we occasionally go to find something fun, instead of an addictive, time-wasting, my-life-is-better-than-yours competition? I investigated this for Flow magazine and it helped me to actually spend less time online.
- SEE IT AS AN ADDICTION
It helps to admit that you might be addicted—addicted to the rush of dopamine that you get when you’re searching for ‘news’. “We are permanently searching for the reward of distraction,” says Cal Newport, associate professor of computer science at Georgetown University and author of Deep Work, in an interview with the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant. It’s no coincidence that we stare so often at our screens because all apps are made by companies who benefit financially from our using their services as much as possible. It’s designed so that we keep on communicating through their products, and to ensure that this continues they pull every trick possible: neurological, psychological, sociological and so on. Which is good to know.
2. DO THE MATH
Awareness is the first step toward change. Start keeping track of your daily phone usage: Put a mark in your agenda every time you look at your phone and then add the marks up (there’s also an app for that). It may only take about ten minutes to check a phone (estimate) but it takes half an hour to regain concentration (fact).
3. TURN OFF NOTIFICATIONS
Everything that rings, beeps or flashes is a distraction—not only to you but also to those around you. We tend to make new information a priority and, on top of that, it’s hard not to be curious or to think: It might be important. Keep your phone on silent and only peek at it every once in a while