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Last Updated on November 3, 2017

You Will Love This Site If You Are Tired Of Content You See On Facebook

You Will Love This Site If You Are Tired Of Content You See On Facebook

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.[1]

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.[2]. 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.[3]

However, Facebook is still a social media juggernaut worldwide. In 2016, they had 1.6 billion active users.[4] In fact, 76% of Facebook users report accessing the social network on a daily basis.[5]

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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.[6] 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.

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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.[7] Social media is particularly addictive because talking about oneself stimulates the pleasure centers in the brain.[8]

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.[9] 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.

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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.

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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

Reference

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Brian Lee

Chief of Product Management at Lifehack

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The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

It’s a depressing adage we’ve all heard time and time again: An increase in technology does not necessarily translate to an increase in productivity.

Put another way by Robert Solow, a Nobel laureate in economics,

“You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.”

In other words, just because our computers are getting faster, that doesn’t mean that that we will have an equivalent leap in productivity. In fact, the opposite may be true!

New York Times writer Matt Richel wrote in an article for the paper back in 2008 that stated, “Statistical and anecdotal evidence mounts that the same technology tools that have led to improvements in productivity can be counterproductive if overused.”

There’s a strange paradox when it comes to productivity. Rather than an exponential curve, our productivity will eventually reach a plateau, even with advances in technology.

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So what does that mean for our personal levels of productivity? And what does this mean for our economy as a whole? Here’s what you should know about the productivity paradox, its causes, and what possible solutions we may have to combat it.

What is the productivity paradox?

There is a discrepancy between the investment in IT growth and the national level of productivity and productive output. The term “productivity paradox” became popularized after being used in the title of a 1993 paper by MIT’s Erik Brynjolfsson, a Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and the Director of the MIT Center for Digital Business.

In his paper, Brynjolfsson argued that while there doesn’t seem to be a direct, measurable correlation between improvements in IT and improvements in output, this might be more of a reflection on how productive output is measured and tracked.[1]

He wrote in his conclusion:

“Intangibles such as better responsiveness to customers and increased coordination with suppliers do not always increase the amount or even intrinsic quality of output, but they do help make sure it arrives at the right time, at the right place, with the right attributes for each customer.

Just as managers look beyond “productivity” for some of the benefits of IT, so must researchers be prepared to look beyond conventional productivity measurement techniques.”

How do we measure productivity anyway?

And this brings up a good point. How exactly is productivity measured?

In the case of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, productivity gain is measured as the percentage change in gross domestic product per hour of labor.

But other publications such as US Today, argue that this is not the best way to track productivity, and instead use something called Total Factor Productivity (TFP). According to US Today, TFP “examines revenue per employee after subtracting productivity improvements that result from increases in capital assets, under the assumption that an investment in modern plants, equipment and technology automatically improves productivity.”[2]

In other words, this method weighs productivity changes by how much improvement there is since the last time productivity stats were gathered.

But if we can’t even agree on the best way to track productivity, then how can we know for certain if we’ve entered the productivity paradox?

Possible causes of the productivity paradox

Brynjolfsson argued that there are four probable causes for the paradox:

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  • Mis-measurement – The gains are real but our current measures miss them.
  • Redistribution – There are private gains, but they come at the expense of other firms and individuals, leaving little net gain.
  • Time lags – The gains take a long time to show up.
  • Mismanagement – There are no gains because of the unusual difficulties in managing IT or information itself.

There seems to be some evidence to support the mis-measurement theory as shown above. Another promising candidate is the time lag, which is supported by the work of Paul David, an economist at Oxford University.

According to an article in The Economist, his research has shown that productivity growth did not accelerate until 40 years after the introduction of electric power in the early 1880s.[3] This was partly because it took until 1920 for at least half of American industrial machinery to be powered by electricity.”

Therefore, he argues, we won’t see major leaps in productivity until both the US and major global powers have all reached at least a 50% penetration rate for computer use. The US only hit that mark a decade ago, and many other countries are far behind that level of growth.

The paradox and the recession

The productivity paradox has another effect on the recession economy. According to Neil Irwin,[4]

“Sky-high productivity has meant that business output has barely declined, making it less necessary to hire back laid-off workers…businesses are producing only 3 percent fewer goods and services than they were at the end of 2007, yet Americans are working nearly 10 percent fewer hours because of a mix of layoffs and cutbacks in the workweek.”

This means that more and more companies are trying to do less with more, and that means squeezing two or three people’s worth of work from a single employee in some cases.

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According to Irwin, “workers, frightened for their job security, squeezed more productivity out of every hour [in 2010].”

Looking forward

A recent article on Slate puts it all into perspective with one succinct observation:

“Perhaps the Internet is just not as revolutionary as we think it is. Sure, people might derive endless pleasure from it—its tendency to improve people’s quality of life is undeniable. And sure, it might have revolutionized how we find, buy, and sell goods and services. But that still does not necessarily mean it is as transformative of an economy as, say, railroads were.”

Still, Brynjolfsson argues that mismeasurement of productivity can really skew the results of people studying the paradox, perhaps more than any other factor.

“Because you and I stopped buying CDs, the music industry has shrunk, according to revenues and GDP. But we’re not listening to less music. There’s more music consumed than before.

On paper, the way GDP is calculated, the music industry is disappearing, but in reality it’s not disappearing. It is disappearing in revenue. It is not disappearing in terms of what you should care about, which is music.”

Perhaps the paradox isn’t a death sentence for our productivity after all. Only time (and perhaps improved measuring techniques) will tell.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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