Now – this blog entry may not seem relevant to anyone who hasn’t watched “The Social Dilemma” Documentary on Netflix (and I apologise for any spoilers - **Turn back now!**)…
… But I promise it’s something we should ALL be aware of.
The documentary raises a range of social media conundrums, most of which centring on a seemingly irreparable:
We let the cat out of the bag!
I’m not usually one to dwell on the negatives, and I like to believe that most things are invented and used, primarily, to bring about ‘good’... but this one really got me scratching my head, shining the light inwards and considering my own behaviours.
First – to set the scene:
Social media was invented for the purpose of uniting (and re-uniting) people.
It then developed into a useful tool to assist businesses with Marketing, PR, and Communications etc.
All positives from a personal and professional standpoint.
There is NO QUESTION that social media has fast become a pivotal part of people’s work and home lives, and that is has endless uses and offerings that we could no longer do without.
So what’s the problem?
Well… the below picture is a screengrab of my average, mobile usage last week.
I don’t know if you spotted it at the bottom, but I spent a grand total of 23 and a half HOURS on my phone last week.
That’s a FULL DAY!
The worst part is… that’s only my personal phone. There’s the:
· 8 hours (+) a day I spend on my laptop for work
· However many hours I spend on my work mobile
· The hours I spend on my laptop around work, and
· The hours I spend watching TV.
Okay. So that very much looks like a ‘me’ problem, and you may wonder how social media factors in.
I think a lot of us would agree that social media and using your ‘devices’ has become so normal that time flits by without question. It’s normal to scroll Instagram.
Who doesn’t get nosey sometimes and wonder what ‘so-and-so’s’ up to, right? What more can we be doing to promote our day, or our life to our friends and family? People we went to school with.
And it’s only sensible to check that against what everyone else is doing. What if we’re missing out? We’ve had a long day at work, it would be nice to do something mindless and shut our brains off for a bit.
‘The Social Dilemma’ highlights the algorithms that social media moguls use to ‘enslave’ us to our phones. You may think that ‘enslave’ is too strong, but these platforms are programmed to send us reminders, notifications, and nudges to keep us engaged.
We put it down. It nudges us and tells us to pick it back up.
Last week I picked my phone up 667 times and received 873 notifications.
All I remember of using my phone last week was scrolling Pinterest home desk ideas and watching cute videos of dogs ‘finding their forever homes’ on Instagram. The only reason I remember those things is because I spent too much time doing them! The rest of the 24 hours was spent on stuff so meaningless I can’t even remember what I looked at.
Prior to this documentary, I never questioned whether I spent too much time on my devices.
It didn’t feel like 24 hours a week.
So what’s the problem and how do we fix it?
Problem: We let the cat out of the bag. It’s out now. Social media is integral in today’s society, and, in spite of its problems, creates a lot of opportunities. There’s no way we’re going to get rid of it now!
Solution: There’s more than one way to skin a cat! There are lots of things we can do to improve the situation and I thought I’d share a few of them in this blog.
1. Let your devices help!
Your media platforms and devices are cunning enough to keep you enslaved, but they’re also set up to help you escape. For example; on your mobile settings, if you search for ‘screen time’, you can not only monitor where you’re spending most of your hours, but you can also put in restrictions so that your phone will prevent you from dedicating too much time to meaningless scrolling.
2. Turn off notifications!
I know it sounds simple, but you really don’t need to know every time a stranger breaths! Turn off the notifications for anything unimportant and allocate a short window every day to check your platforms. That way you’re no longer picking up, putting down, picking up, and putting down every 2 seconds. Chances are, things can wait.
3. Set yourself some rules!
No more phones before bed.
No phones at the dinner table.
Leave your phone at home when you go for a walk.
Having a bit of discipline around media usage allows you to go out and actually DO SOMETHING worth posting about!
There are so many things we can do to use our social media correctly and to prevent ourselves from being used to generate money for a bunch of people that are already the richest people to have ever lived.
I’m aware that I need to make some changes; use my time to get back into reading and writing more and get out of the house.
I’ve decided to get the best out of social media and use it for the things it was originally intended for:
- Promoting my individual brand
- Contacting actual friends and actual family during these difficult times
- Searching for solutions to problems etc.
- Marketing, buying and promoting, and,
- Staying connected!
It’s amazing how easy it is to fall into the traps, and the impact that they can have on your mental health. Targeted ads and social media marketing is important. Seeing content specific to your needs and your likes is really useful! But managing your time and finding the right balance between 'screen time' and 'downtime' is a must.
I’d be really interested to hear your thoughts and how much time you’ve been logging.
Hopefully I’m not the only one who’s shocked!
P.S... The Social Dilemma. If you haven't watched it. You should!