The technology behind social media platforms doesn’t always get the best rap. If you watched The Social Dilemma, you witnessed just how seemingly oblivious we tend to be with the algorithms behind manipulative social technology. In other words, we are being analyzed and fed all the information we want to see without asking for it. These seemingly small notifications, ads, and posts are designed to distract and lure us away from anything else.
Tristan Harris, a computer scientist and contributor in The Social Dilemma, offered up some insightful advice during his TED Talk: “How Better Tech Could Protect us from Distraction.” Harris argues that when we interact with social media and see something that catches our eye, we go through a process of being distracted by said “thing” or go through a serious case of FOMO.
Where’s the evidence to back this up? Well, Microsoft’s research shows every distraction during work causes 23 minutes of inactivity and time to refocus. Getting sucked into social media trains our brains bad habits that lead us to continually self-interrupt our workflow and concentration.
So how are we supposed to overcome this ever-present challenge and rise-above social media distractions? Harris argues we should design a solution—one that will celebrate high-quality communication and relationships (AKA: value over time spent).
Taking this lesson to heart can work wonders for all of us. What if we put down our phones and truly concentrated on our work, conversations, and goals throughout the day. Would we accomplish more? Would we be happier? Would we feel more purposeful? I’d argue a very strong f*ck yes.
If technology rewarded us for making meaningful connections rather than spending endless time scrolling through news feeds, we’d be more inclined to build stronger relationships and be more present. Last time I checked, social media was still operating on the old, not-so-great model and probably will be for quite some time.
But, we don’t need to wait for things to change to alter our habits. Let’s start right now and actively try to disconnect and avoid all those distractions. If possible, keep your phone in another room or in a desk drawer while you work. Logout of all your social media channels for most of the day and only allow yourself a limited time to be on them. After all, you’ve got to give yourself some credit—you have the ability & control to be your best advocate.
How do you disconnect and avoid social media distractions throughout the day? Tweet @StarterNoise.
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