Social media is a great way to communicate with your friends, family and loved ones. It keeps us up to date with everything that’s going on in the “real world”. This creates a collective where we are all in the same metaverse of knowledge.
It keeps us locked into the system, as we subconsciously invest without actively opting for it. Conversations around the topics we all know become easy and spark more engagement. Thus, a loop is created, making us feel that we are connected. High-speed internet has changed media consumption over the past decade, allowing us, willy-nilly, to become addicted to social media. So it’s no surprise that we often find ourselves mindlessly consuming content. Twenty minutes of YouTube becomes two hours in no time. We get hooked because all social media platforms these days are powered by artificial intelligence, or AI, which, based on our browsing habits, has the ability to tailor content to suit our tastes, and therefore to make us addicted.
With the ever-changing technology, AI will only get better at knowing everything about us, including
what we like to watch, what we want to eat, what we listen to, what we buy and what we like to wear. Therefore, things will only get worse when it comes to our social media habits. If we don’t act now, we’ll spend even more time mindlessly surfing for 15 seconds over videos of cars, dogs and people dancing. So what can we do about it? How to deal with the ubiquitous and harmful influence of Artificial Intelligence and social networks without becoming addicted?
Understand how notifications work
“In a world where attention is commonplace, stop being robbed by your notifications” is a saying that should be read at least once a day. If you spend more than 20 minutes a day on social media apps, you are falling prey to the algorithm. Anything longer than 20 seconds is content you didn’t intend to consume today. It’s something you came across, “lucky” being the keyword. The best way to avoid recommendations is to not click on them. Look only at what you came for, what you already are. When you find something new, you often tend to enter uncharted territory, which will quickly turn into the proverbial rabbit hole, which will take time and effort to get out of. Look at it like that. You walk home from work. You have a defined path that you have chosen to reach. But early in your journey, you spot a rabbit and are drawn to it because you like rabbits. After a few minutes of chasing you realize that you have to go home now. So you stop and turn around. But now you see a puppy and you like puppies. You stop to play some more with the puppies. And now you’re even further from home. This is precisely how notifications and recommendations work. They know how to get your attention, what you like, and what would get you to click and consume more. The moral of the story is to stop messing with the objects in your path and go home. Allocate time and monitor it to understand how often distractions get the better of you.
This brings us to the next point.
Stop liking and counting likes and views on all posts
There are specific behavioral reinforcers from the informational rewards we receive after checking our phones. The dopamine reward pathway in our system is targeted in such a way that we only feel satisfied once we check our phones. Social media notifications are designed to get this kind of attention from you. If users are too bothered by the number of likes, they gradually reduce the content they share. But they remain passive consumers, those who scroll without thinking. Those who overcome this digital bias end up being the ones pushing the content forward. Social media consumers are therefore broadly categorized as one of the two, and together they form the ecosystem. Stars like Kim Kardashian, Deepika Padukone and Justin Beiber took social media breaks to clear their heads. Once “refreshed”, a new reincarnated version of their digital personas is constructed. Kanye West recently took a break from social media after reports of his divorce from Kim Kardashian emerged. It is a standard method adopted by those wishing to regulate their use for cleaning slate. However, he returned after a temporary hiatus and shared intimate details of what was going on, drawing us further.
Actively train what artificial intelligence learns about you. By controlling what your AI learns about you, you train a version of the AI that serves you. You allow him to become your assistant, which brings you added value. Be aware of what content you “like” and see how it turns into something you can benefit from. If you spend more than two hours a day on social media, take the three-day detox challenge. Delete social media apps for three days and continue using your phone. Monitor how you spent your day and how many tasks you could accomplish without the distraction of social media.
Taking time away from the noise helps to hear his much louder. This allows us to set goals regardless of how they would be seen or perceived. This challenge allows us to understand who controls our attention when we live a life with social networks activated 24/7. Social media is designed to make users addicted to their devices. Social media companies know how notification sound works for us. In the popular Netflix special The social dilemma, the creators looked at how children are most affected and became the first generation to experience a social media-driven culture shift. Avoiding social media altogether and moving to an outdated version of media is not the solution either. The answer is to be in control.
So, if you want to rewire your brain for social media, start by rewiring your digital brain by manipulating artificial intelligence. Make it your ally, not your master. By implementing the suggested changes, your content creation and consumption habits will see a difference that will alert your AI. That’s when the rewiring begins. We meet on the other side.