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Don’t Open Facebook – How to fight your Social Media addiction

You’re the product, Not the customer

Have you ever heard the phrase ‘Data is the new oil’? This means that, in this new age of personalised advertisements and instant content, our behaviour is recorded and stored as data, and this highly complex and personalised data is then sold to big data processing companies like Experian, and also to advertisers on their platforms, who build highly targeted ads based on your activity, which are collected and processed by Facebook and Twitter’s complicated algorithms. So, going back to the ‘data is the new oil’, phrase, the new commodity is data, it makes the collectors and processors so much money, and every time you open Facebook and every like, comment and share that you tap, you are giving these companies a little more data on who you are, as they build up a data clone of you.

Social Media and Smartphone addiction are a cruel mistress, and we are all victims. Your smartphone is built to constantly feed you information, information which is then presented by Social Media companies, such as Facebook and Twitter to make you keep scrolling because their currency is your time, attention and interaction.

Open Facebook: Reward Yourself

Maybe you’ve thought or heard a little bit about what Social Media does to your brain, the effects that it has on your concentration, short-term memory and, most critically, your dopamine rewards system. Now, I’m not a neuroscientist but put simply, your brain craves simple rewards, and you are genetically wired to do something that will get you a quick reward, rather than something that will give you long-term pleasure. It is the same reason why, when you’re sitting down to do coursework, and your friend invites you out, you choose the short term enjoyment over the long-term success your degree would bring, why you would rather eat a cake than a salad, because your brain craves the instant dopamine hits, rather than the long-term happiness and health that comes from avoiding these things.

The best favour you can do for your mental health is to not use Social Media, trust me. Do not open Facebook, scroll Instagram or post on Snapchat. Research has been undertaken to find out which social media networks are the most addictive, considering the app UI, interactions between users and perceived relevance amongst its user base. The most addictive were Instagram, closely followed by Snapchat and Facebook. These are the three social networks that I uninstalled from my phone and no longer choose to use.

As a Digital Marketer by profession, I have a valid excuse to want to use Social Media, but, not only do I not want to, I actively dislike doing it. When somebody asks me ‘did you see my Facebook post’, I puff with frustration as I must open it in the browser section of my phone, put in Facebook.com, and even log in with my highly secure password. Even when I log in to do one simple thing, I find myself mindlessly scrolling down the news feed, looking at rubbish, stolen content posted by SoFlo Antonio, Unilad or some other brain-dead organisation.

As addictive as drugs

As mentioned before, Instagram is the most addictive Social Media network. You may have noticed that 90% of the content on Instagram is one of about five different categories. Mostly girls posting pictures of their, ahem, natural assets, and men who can’t go to the gym without taking a picture of their abdomen, then there is food, people’s pets and ‘take me back to Greece/Spain/Turkey’, which will most likely be one of the first three mentioned. Discounting pets and possibly food, people who post the rest of this stuff are begging for your attention. They get genuinely depressed if their latest picture doesn’t get as many likes as their last one. If you base your happiness on how many people double tap your picture, you have Social Media addiction, and I would advise a cleanse.

Resist the urge to open Facebook

You may ask, how can I avoid the social media addiction, and bring the dopamine levels in my brain back to normal? Here are my three bits of advice.

Remove the apps!

If you are a modern human being living in Western society, chances are you look at your phone a lot. If your home screen has the temptingly colourful icons for Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, you will see these icons every day, and you will open them, most of the time subconsciously. So remove the apps from your home screen, or even better, remove them from your phone altogether.

Avoid the timelines

News feeds, stories and timelines are the most addictive parts of social media. As humans, we crave to know what our counterparts are doing, but they are only posting the best parts of their day, they’re not posting that they’re suffering from the same anxiety as you, because they’ve seen your post of going to the gym with your significant other. There is a difference between social media and communication, and I fully understand the need to use WhatsApp and Facebook messenger, but you can keep these services without using the larger social media apps.

Positive reinforcement

The best way to prevent yourself from opening Facebook and other apps, if you really do not want to uninstall them, is to block them, even temporarily. My favourite app for this is AppBlock, available on all android devices. If you have an Apple device, you’re too far gone already, sorry, but maybe there is an app to help salvage whatever individual thought you have left.

On your laptop or PC, there is a great extension called site blocker, for Chrome and Firefox. Which as the same effect; blocks Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, and whichever distracting websites you can’t help but visit.

I hope that I have helped you in resisting the urge to open Facebook and Instagram and that you are determined to try the Social Media cleanse, and see how much better you feel, the best of luck, and please let me know how you get on, by commenting on this article or by sending me an email at sam@donebysam.co.uk.

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