I’m burned out on social media.
I also check it multiple times a day.
After a few minutes, I find myself feeling frustrated, jealous or angry. I tell myself I’ll stop looking and find myself right back in the rabbit hole.
Why am I doing this to myself?
Craig Mod wrote about “Tiny Loops” in his article, Media Accounting 101: Appholes and Contracts that perfectly summed it up for me:
Instagram is a great example. The more you scroll, the more money they make. Keep this in mind the next time you find yourself scrolling mindlessly — take a second to consider the agreement you’ve entered into with the application. What’s keeping you there? Why are the algorithms showing you what they’e showing? What benefits are you accruing? For what are are you trading that time and mental energy?
Most likely, you’re stuck in a “tiny loop:”
— a senseless series of actions that span minutes, hours, days, consume years, and add up to nothing or almost nothing, and that benefit (ideally: tranquility, growth, curiosity) no one but the company (in reality: engagement, ad views) who owns the container in which the loop takes place
Craig also explains how these apps are “predicated on keeping a consumer engaged and re-engaged for the benefit of the organization (often to the detriment of the mental and physical health of the user), dozens if not hundreds of times a day” and these open ended contracts mean things never end for the user. This never-ending abuse we put ourselves through is not healthy.
I created the above collage this week in response to my current feelings on social media and even though the collage references Facebook, it’s really more about Instagram for me. I deleted Twitter from my phone a few weeks ago and removed all social media notifications which helps…somewhat. I also moved Instagram off my home screen so I’m not tempted to click it instinctively. And yet, I still find myself hunting out the app and clicking it. The obvious answer is to just delete the app entirely but that feels a bit too extreme. What to do instead?
My plan is to try and read more books instead of picking up my phone and checking social media. I’m also posting less on Instagram to ween me off the dopamine hits that come with sharing a photo. Even as I type this, I’m wrestling with the desire to post the collage there and see what happens.
I’m already an avid reader but I keep ordering books to pile up so something is there, ready for me to pick up and read whenever I feel the social media apps calling my name.
I’m not ready to remove social media entirely from my life, but I am ready to put serious limitations around my use of it. Understanding my use of it is a tiny loop that provides very little benefit for me helps me create better boundaries of its use.