When you need to reach out to someone, are you more likely to pick up the phone and give them a call, or do you fire off a message on social media?
Even those of us who prefer communicating the old-school way can’t seem to escape the thrall of social networks. As of 2017, about 81% of people in the US have profiles on social media.
We know that having a social media profile is not the same as using one, but statistics show that more and more of us are signing up for and using social media than ever. Instagram boasted an increase of 100 million users in a six month period after adding story, live video, and instant message features to the platform.. If you’ve noticed people pausing to record snippets of their daily experience, it’s probably because Snapchat users are viewing more than 10 billion videos every day.
However, Facebook is still a social media juggernaut worldwide. In 2016, they had 1.6 billion active users. In fact, 76% of Facebook users report accessing the social network on a daily basis.
Social media has us hooked, murders our time and plants bias in our mind
You may catch yourself scrolling mindlessly or peering into the lives of others for large chunks of time. Social media has us hooked, and while there are many excellent reasons to use social networks, there are some serious issues with them as well.
1. Social Media Only Show Us What We LOVE To See
During the divisive 2016 US presidential election, social media aggravated high tensions between opposing parties. Facebook and other social networks have algorithms that help us see more of the content we love and less of the things we don’t care for. The more you like, subscribe, follow, or comment, the more the algorithms adjust to your preferences.
Soon, you’re ONLY seeing what you want to see. This doesn’t seem like such a bad thing until you realize that you never see opinions different from your own. It also means that the more you use the sites, the more you’ll crave the content that validates your opinions and supports your interests.
Before you know it, you’re wasting valuable minutes going through feeds while simultaneously forgetting how to have civil discourse with others.
2. We can’t stop asking for more, like an addict
Although Internet Addiction Disorder has not officially been added to the DSM-V, the go-to manual for psychological disorders, the disorder is definitely on researchers’ radars. Social media is particularly addictive because talking about oneself stimulates the pleasure centers in the brain.
It feels good to share about our lives, and when we aren’t talking about ourselves, we can browse through topics that interest us. We don’t even seem to notice the minutes and hours drifting away.
3. They want us to see just because they want us to buy
These algorithms that work to show us the things we like are also big money-makers for social networks. About 90% of marketers report that social media is an essential part of increasing their distribution. Since they can target these ads to people most likely to want to see them, corporations tend to make a lot of money off the average user this way.
Not only can businesses pitch things to us that we might want to buy, but they can also hold us captive with ads. Many monetized channels get their money from advertising which relies on ad views or click-throughs. If you’ve ever been stuck watching a commercial you don’t want to see on a social media site or Youtube, you’ve experienced this phenomenon.
There are people out there want us to rethink about how we spend our time
Tristan Harris, a former Google design ethicist and founder of Time Well Spent sees the standard approach to measuring online success as problematic. Keeping track of analytics such as time spent on websites gives companies a mathematical picture of how people are using the internet, but it says nothing about whether that time spent was positive for users.
Harris’s campaign argues that companies must change how they measure success. Instead of looking at raw data, companies should be measuring the positive impact that their sites have on their users.
Social media users have been told for years that it’s our fault that we’re wasting so much time on the internet. Yes, we do play a role in our own destinies, but most networks are designed to get us hooked and keep us that way. How can you resist looking at the recent picture you were tagged in, and how can you ignore the chime of an incoming message?
Time Well Spent is a revolutionary approach to understanding how the internet affects us. Instead of placing all the responsibility for how we interact with social media onto our shoulders, it asks designers to build better ways of measuring user satisfaction. The “Demand Better Design” section of the website offers suggestions to designers and praises apps that are supporting companies and users.
Beyond analyzing how companies gauge their success on the internet, Time Well Spent also offers tips for minimizing disruptions and reclaiming time for meaningful interactions. The “Take Control” tab on the website gives helpful tips and recommends apps to help you regain your time and focus.
Support the campaign if you think corporates play an important role in your social media addiction
We all know that wasting time scrolling through social media doesn’t add value to our lives and can actually make us miserable. One quick solution to controlling the amount of time that you spend on social networks is to reduce the number of notifications interrupting your day. Time Well Spent has some great tips for doing this if you aren’t sure where to start.
By protecting your attention, you’ll be able to do more work and better quality work in a shorter amount of time. Focus on making your interactions meaningful and eliminating distractions–especially from social media. Make use of apps and sites that measure their success based on the value they add to your life instead of the amount of time they make you waste.
Demand better design and learn how to make the most of your online experience by visiting Time Well Spent.
Featured photo credit: Aziz Acharki/ Unsplash via unsplash.com
|||^||Statista: Percentage of U.S. population with a social media profile from 2008 to 2017|
|||^||Our Social Times: Instagram users hit 600 million after eventful year|
|||^||Bloomberg: Snapchat User `Stories’ Fuel 10 Billion Daily Video Views|
|||^||Smart Insights: The Most Popular Social Networks Worldwide|
|||^||Smart Insight: Global Social Media Research Summary 2017|
|||^||NPR: The Reason Your Feed Became an Echo Chamber–And What to do About It|
|||^||American Psychiatric Association: Can You be Addicted to the Internet?|
|||^||Lifewire: Study: Social Media Fires Up Brain’s Pleasure Center|
|||^||Social Media Examiner: 2016 Social Media Marketing Industry Report|