Blink. Random Notification. Open Phone. Check WhatsApp. Check Instagram.
15 minutes later... Still scrolling. Time Notification - Reminder that you've spent too much time on the app.
Switch to Twitter. Read insightful threads in my timeline.
30 minutes later... Read 10 more threads.
Feel satisfied about learning something today.. Scroll other social media for a while.
Companies have put together the smartest people in a room to add more people in this cycle (and for longer durations). The questions these smart people solve include “how can we make the user spend more time on our app?”, “how do we make them binge watch worthless content?”, “how to create a brand impact and retain our app in the user’s mind?”
For every social platform, the incentives are skewed. On average, the incentives are NOT aligned to helping users make feel more independent or take them towards better mental well-being.
It’s turned out to be great for all these companies - they have become "tech giants". But it's not been so good for the consumers.
The social media has impacted us.
While the jury is still not out on impact of social media usage, there are researches that show how extensive social media usage is linked to lower self-esteem, greater depression and loneliness. ADHD is at an all-time high too. The pressure to be present on these platforms (and the cost of exiting them) is only increasing.
The newest weapon unleashed: short-form content!
Ephemeral (short-form) content consumption is about consuming content that is:
Programmatically designed to be discoverable to users for a very short time (a few days at max)
- Very hard to actually search, except for going through chronological archives
- Content that is designed to be "short-form" or consumer in a jiffy
Consuming too much of this content impacts us in multiple ways!
- Temporary feeling of learning / accomplishment
- You just saw a 1-minute reel about how stocks works. Or a thread of "5 things you can learn from someone successful". While it feels satisfactory, it’s hard to retain things in the mind - especially things that you didn't consume with a purpose. Very few of the things you consume in 2022, will come with you in 2023
- If you’re already getting so many likes, do you even feel the need to work harder and contribute at work or do something "tangible" to feel happier? It ends up becoming a slippery slope
- Peer pressure to get active and create a digital identity - publishing content that's designed to the liking of the social media platforms' algorithms
- There is pressure to “post” more frequently and in accordance with what the social media platform promotes (e.g. algorithms penalise you if you don’t post frequently - “out of sight is out of mind”)
- Defacto content ends up becoming stories or “snippets of knowledge”
- A false sense of urgency to respond / communicate
- You are filled in a world full of notifications. Everything has "Read Receipts", "Seen", "Who watched your story", etc. etc. - these create artificial pressures to respond to things which might have otherwise been irrelevant or low priority.
How to break the loop?
- Monitor your screen time and the apps where you spent it.
- Do NOT use discipline or penalties to cut down the consumption time, replace it with hobbies and interests (which are not on your phone). This worked better for me instead of getting myself into a guilt mode. If you're looking for hobbies, message me and we can discuss - I have tried a ton of them! 🤓
- Consume consciously, learn intentionally
- Reading what comes on your news feed is actually the worst way to learn anything. 😂 Instead, look up for long form content writers in your areas of interest. Here are some Favourite Content Sources that I enjoy. (might not be relevant for everyone - it's very interest specific)
- Reading specific substacks or subreddits could be a better time spent than consuming content from “influencers” who are also pressured to spend more time.
- Use focus/Do Not Disturb features in your phone, browser or apps. (I'm guilty of using DND - causing so many calls to be rejected. I'll get back to you, I promise 🥲)
- If you spend time posting content already, write long-form content into your plan. It’s very easy to publish your own long form content using something like a substack, medium or just Linkedin articles for that matter.
Here are 2 actionable things to do after this blog (so you don't get into the temporary feeling of learning 😇):
- Go check your screen time and see if it's something you want to reduce
- Pickup at least one topic (of interest) to read/watch long-form content - mine has been boxing, deep sea dives and physics
If you found this useful, send this to someone you care about! ❤️