(Originally published on 1/12/2017)
Social Media is addictive. Let’s admit it. There, I said it.
Now, anything that bears endless scrolling, like twitter, Pinterest, Whatsapp and facebook is possibly addictive, so why is facebook the kingpin? More about that later.
To understand the issue at hand and my urge to put out this article, I highly recommend watching this 16 minute interview from Simon Sinek about Millennials. I´m sure that upcoming generations, those after the millennials, have an even harder time to escape the addiction because they grow up with smartphones.
Giving your kid a smartphone at age 10 is as if you would allow your kids to drink booze or smoke at age 10.
Don’t believe me? Read that article from Tristan Harris, a designer at google about how technology Hijacks our minds: https://medium.com/swlh/how-technology-hijacks-people…
I´m not against technology at all; I´m a digital artist working paperless since about 7 years, my daughter uses a tablet since the age of 3. So my aim is to find out what the psychological long term issue are going to be and how to stay away from a pattern of addiction.
The general solution to addiction is easier said than done; it is all about reconnection. But even when that is true, to prevent it we need more quality time and relationships in the first place and that is harder to achieve for someone working from home like freelancers and self employed people.
For them (I’m there too) social media is the routine of showing up, showing your work, that you are still alive, etc. It resembles the small talk at a real working condition such as offices.
But the hijacking part that sneaks advertising into our lives just has become ridiculous.
Below is a list of reasons why we have to find a solution to fight social media as it is right now, because out of the box, it is just awful. Unsatisfying, time-consuming and designed to make you binge swallow news- and worse it can lead to depression and frustration.
This happens when you cure yourself and limit facebook time (or whatever platform you use):
- You are more productive
- You become less depressive
- You begin to compare yourself less with others
- You cherish real relationships and favor them over virtual ones
- You feel less pressure
- You learn to value quality time with loved ones much more
Why leaving facebook is not an option too (at least for me and many others)
Start with the worst platform
So let’s start with facebook.
On the left (regular) are 2 posts and on the right (hacked) are 4 posts in the same display size!
In the left version, everything that is marked red, has to be scanned by our eyes but is not necessary to grasp the content of the original post! Do you see how fucked up this is?
Facebook has learned that people rather like to read the comments than the actual posts itself!
If you want or not, you chime into a discussion, every time you stumble about this kind of post-comment scenario. This pulls the heck of a time out of your day and makes you upset or wanting to put out your opinion more often then necessary.
Also noteworthy; Our eyes need three times as long to scan the actual contents on the left side compared to the right.
- You can not comment – time saved ✓
- You don´t see irrelevant stuff = time saved ✓
- You don’t feel tempted to argue about anything, because you can’t comment = time saved ✓
- You see more posts of people relevant to you = no time saved, but more relevant to you
- It becomes easier to recognize who posted something = no time saved, but more relevant to you
- In a matter of 5 minutes, you see more posts = no time saved, but more relevant to you
- Since you see more content, seeing content that doubles up, throws you out of facebook earlier = time saved ✓
You see, to hack facebook on your end, is not only beneficial, it is crucial!
This is about hacking social-media consumption and about putting the original content front-and-center again. Nothing more, nothing less. I tested this and it works for me since about 6 months.
Since 2 weeks I’m skipping the comment section and it already feels better from the beginning.
Below is a list of tested add-ons that help you to hack facebook to make it usable again:
#1: FB-Purity – http://www.fbpurity.com/
This add-on let’s you customize your stream and remove parts of the user interface.Very handy, the only nagging thing is the list of people who left fb, that can’t be turned off somehow.
#2: Stylish – https://chrome.google.com/webstore/…
This one is rather for the eye, but since facebook’s colors are very bad for the eyes in late evening hours, with this add-on you can make it nice and dark;)
#3: Stylebot – https://chrome.google.com/webstore/...
#4: Adblock – https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/...
Not that I need to mention it, since ad-blockers have become mandatory. But since there are a lot ad-blockers bought by the ad-industry, this one is still powered by one person and the best one out there.
#5: Ghostery – https://www.ghostery.com/
This add-on allows you to prevent tracking. Mostly important to prevent targeted ads in social media browsing.
#6: Stop Scrolling Facebook – https://chrome.google.com/webstore/...
Last but not least, this in fact one of the best tools to limit your time effectively!
You have to pick from 15 ridiculous seconds up to 5 minutes. But using this over a period of 3 weeks brings you closer to understand how much (or less) 5 minutes are. Together with the other tools, you see more quality posts and can apply 5 minutes to other platforms as well without the add-on! Just because your circadian clock has become acquainted with the amount of content that fits into 5 minutes.
But, but I want to comment….
Since you basically change the CSS on the frontend to turn off comments, it is difficult to comment if you have to. Writing private messages still works, but groups and comments not. So, how is it possible to solve that?
For apple, there is Menutab – https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/menutab…
It is basically facebook that thinks it is opened in safari on a phone, sitting in your menubar. When notifications are turned off, it is as if it was not there at all. So when you want to comment, you just go there, search for the person and add your comment. Or post in a group, etc.
For Windows, there is https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/store/p/…
Facebook natively as app. I´m not sure if there is a tiny version available. It is also possible to use a different browser for that. But yeah, to limit your time there is this sacrifice.
Another option that can be used alternatively or additionally is to pin your add-ons to a hotlist of favorite tabs. As a poweruser after 10 pinned tabs 1 more does not make much difference. This way you can uncheck the tickbox easily and refresh fb to add a comment on something. Just remember to turn it on again later. Sometimes this solution is better than jumping to menutab. Unfortunately there is no toggle button on Stylebot to do that easily.
Isn’t it ridiculous that you actually need 7 apps to make facebook usable in order to be more productive?
I mean I use social media a lot, but this amount shows me how bad facebook really is and how much more it is able to hijack our minds and habits than other apps or platforms. Pinterest is desgned to consume but even there comes a point of oversaturation. Deviantart is still the best as the watch-stream is manageable and you turn it off by yourself after a certain time.
Basically there are healthy and toxic platforms. Which one is toxic and which not, is up to the user.
There are many people of a different generation not even using facebook, say snapchat or something totally different, but the experience is the same. Because if someone – a company powered by investors – is able to hijack people to manipulate them into spending more time on their page to create a better ROI for advertisers, others will follow. It is up on the user to save themselves in order to limit the damages.
I hope this helps you to get more productive and enjoy social media as it was meant before it became ill by capitalism.
What are your experiences? Do you have any favorite tools that you don’t mind to share with others?