Social Media: Its Problems and How to Distance Yourself From Them
Unlike most businesses, the key metric for social media companies are “time on site,” meaning, they judge the performance of their company on how long they can keep you on their site. It makes sense; the longer you stay on their website, the more time you have to see advertisements, which correspond directly to their profits. The problem is not that these businesses are fighting for your attention, every business fights for your attention; the problem is that’s all these companies really need: your attention.
When your average businessman grabs your attention, it’s often times for your benefit. This person has something he wants to sell you that will hopefully make your life easier. However, social media businesses aren’t really selling you anything, they’re just the medium that other companies can use to sell. But they have to keep you there, on the site, in order for you to see those other companies.
So companies like Facebook have gone to extraordinary lengths to keep you on the site. Long gone are the days where you get on the internet to watch one video. Now you’re watching a volley of videos, about everything under the sun. The next thing you know, you’ve shirked all of your responsibilities to watch 27 WorldStar videos. After such binges, I never put down my phone and think, “God, I’m really glad I just watched all those people fight.” What people don’t realize, is that for every moment you spend on these social media sites, there was probably 100 people on the other side of the screen whose job it was to make you experience that moment, whatever that moment was. Everything on social media is purposeful.
What’s really played so well for social media companies is the recent political instability. Social media websites have duly noted how well the feeling of outrage works in keeping people on site. Beihang University, a Chinese university, performed a study that concluded anger to be more effective in spreading information than joy or sadness. I personally feel social media has become an even more angry place over the last couple of years.
What can we do? Well, most people are not in the position to simply give up all social media. Many people make a living using the internet, or have an audience through them. They’re very practical tools, but that’s all they should be to you; just tools.
Anyone can distance themselves from social media without giving them up completely. I downloaded an app called QualityTime, which allows you to track how long you spend on any given app. I found that I was losing 2 hours to social media on some days. (Others tell me that these are rookie numbers). What’s so special about this app is that it allows you to schedule breaks, which will minimize how distracting your phone can be during these times.
But not everyone has to use social media. You can test and see how influential social media is in your life, which allow you to make the clearer decision on whether or not to keep using them.
Simply quit all social media for one month. At the end of the month, if you find that your quality of life became more difficult without certain social media tools, or if you were losing your audience, go back to those tools. If your life was not bothered without certain tools, give those up completely.