There are countless of articles and stories of how social media is bad for its users. From massive distraction, procrastination, to psychological limitation, you name it, social media has done that to you and me. But how come an application does that to us? Are we in control? Or are we being controlled?
In his book, Hooked, Nir Eyal explained in order for a (tech) product to get you hooked, there must be a reward designed and given to its users. One is reward of the tribe, reward of the hunt, and reward of the self.
- Reward of the tribe is basically when I ask you why do you use social media and you answer me with “Because everyone else is using it!” In other words, social validation. How many likes you get, how many followers reply to your Instagram story. How many retweets.
- Reward of the hunt is for you that use social media to find funny videos or for some of you that went to an extent to create a second account just to follow a gossip account and find the latest juicy gossips. With all those scrolls, you will find more content.
- Reward of the self is something that drives an achiever to use social media. Like say, posting images in color coordinated scene. In a sense you express yourself through social media. Self actualization that you achieve certain point or level.
So, which reward drives you to use social media? All of them? Well, good news that you can actually unhook yourself. I recently went through a retreat from social media for 30+ days. And here’s how I did it.
- Cut off the triggers. Disable the notification so that you will not be aware that there is something happening to your account. The moment you see the notification, the moment your phone buzz, your reaction will be to look to the screen and see the notification. There you go picking up your phone and do what the apps tell you to do.
- Cut off the access. If cutting off the trigger does not work for you, try to cut off the access. Try to put the shortcut on the last screen of your phone. Do not put it on your main home screen. Or try to put it on areas where your thumb cannot reach it. Or simply do what I did. Uninstall the apps. Having no access to the apps is simply the easiest way for me to refrain myself from using social media.
- Find a substitute! With little to no access to the apps, you are missing the rewards social media gives to you. If you want news go the old way of reading newspaper or simply subscribe to an e-newspaper. If you want to share a story, try calling that one old friend you really want to get in touch with. If you want to be socially engaged with others, try to save up some time and go volunteer or simply ask that one guy to have lunch with you at work.
Nothing is wrong with using social media. But it is questionable when you stop looking around for restaurants on the way home and just directly go where everyone has been posting about. It is questionable when you only reach out to friends that have social media present. As if nothing is happening outside social media. It is also questionable when you get distracted so much that you couldn’t function well at work or at family gatherings. So, are you in control or are you being controlled?