Thursday, November 15, 2018

I think he’s on to something

John Green posted the video above to the Vlogbrothers YouTube Channel last week. Despite the clickbait-y title, he talks about a real problem shared by many people these days: There are many aspects of social media that are good, interesting, and helpful, but none of it is all three all the time, and there’s so much that is none of those things, ever. John is doing something I wouldn’t do, but I think he’s on to something.

John’s specific problem is wasting too much time on social media, and needing to compulsively refresh, and all the problems that flow from that. Many people do the same things, and, in fact, social media is designed precisely to manipulate us into that sort of behaviour because it makes them more money that way.

Even so, most of us don’t want to swear off social media altogether, not when there really is much that’s good about it. For example, most of us have friends and/or family members we’d never hear from or about if it weren’t for Facebook. That’s why most of us don’t want to make a complete or permanent break.

John is taking a year off, but what if we dumped the services that don’t, well, serve us anymore, then drastically cut back what we decide to keep? I think that’s the sort of thing that most people—or just me—could actually do.

I hardly ever use Twitter anymore because while I once loved it, it’s become so toxic from, and burdened by, trolls that going there is now very unpleasant. Every time I check in, I end up blocking trolls—one time by the dozens.

I only use Instagram to post photos, and seldom even see comments as a result. Oops? I don’t use any of the other small social media sites, though I’ve seen some people call Pinterest part of “social media”, which I find odd: I’ve never interacted with anyone there. I get several notifications a week from Pinterest, but I sometimes only go there once every couple months.

That leaves, of course, the biggest and baddest of them all, Facebook. My use of that varies widely, depending on things like my mood, what I’m doing (or avoiding doing), etc. I have the Facebook App on my phone and tablet, and, obviously, I can access it on my computer. I have Messenger alerts coming to my phone, something I only switched on a few months ago so I could see when a family member had sent me a personal message.

One solution is to delete the Facebook App from my phone and tablet, meaning I’d have to go to my computer to access it. I don’t know if this would be good or bad. Good because I wouldn’t waste time on tablet accessing Facebook, but that’s also the main place I do (on my phone, I only post brief status updates on the go, or I share photos through Instagram). It also might just shift my Facebook use to my computer, which may not help.

So, I’m thinking about adopting a two-part plan. First, I may delete the App from my tablet, but keep it on my phone, for now, because I don’t use it very often on that. I’m definitely going to turn off notifications for Messages, though.

Regardless of whether I delete the App, the second part is about self-control through a plan: I think I’ll limit my Facebook use to a few days a week. It may turn out I don’t need it at all.

This won’t affect the AmeriNZ Facebook Page that much because I share blog posts and podcasts there, so there will be new content of some sort every day without me actually using the page or Facebook. There aren’t usually any or many comments, so it’s not like I have to go there to reply to them very often, but if I do, I could just ignore my personal Facebook to be active on the AmeriNZ Facebook Page.

I think that dialling down the social media will improve everything for me, from the stress of politics I talked about yesterday, to dramatically reducing the waste of time social media can be. That would give me more time—probably more than I realise—to work on other projects, including this blog, my podcast, and other productive things.

John Green is on to something, I think. There’s far too much I want to do to continue to allow myself to be sucked into yet another social media spiral. But taking a year off is too drastic for me, particularly when I’m one of those people who has friends and family members I’d never hear from or about if it weren’t for Facebook.

So, I’m going to try and tame the hungry lion. I hope it really does help as much as I think it will.

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