Social networks aren’t created for us1. They are engineered to extract as much of our attention as possible and turn a profit from it. But our attention is finite. “[Time] is a non-renewable resource,” says Neil Fiore2. “Once you’ve spent it, and if you’ve spent it badly, it’s gone forever.” A feeling we often get after spending more time on social media than we expected—even forgetting why we accessed the platform in the first place. The average user of Mark Zuckerberg’s social networks (Facebook, Instagram, Messenger) spends about fifty minutes each day on these platforms3. (And Mark wants you to spend more, not less.) This is a direct result of how social media works. No matter what the reason for your visit to the network is, when you arrive the first thing you see is an ubiquitous, incessant stream of posts—tailored for you with a clever algorithm4. (Wait, but I just wanted to share a picture!)
Let me tell you how I try to avoid these distractions.
Any of us can share and/or consume content on social media. Frequently, users lean to one or the other end of the spectrum, either producing and sharing (i.e. being followed) or consuming (i.e. following others). If you are a content creator—an artist, writer, designer, maker, or developer, for instance—who uses social media to spread your craft, it is important that you focus on producing meaningful content and not spending your limited creative time interacting fruitlessly with social media. In a quest to reduce the time I spend sharing my content on different social media platforms, I found ways to post online without accessing any social platform—or, at least, minimizing the amount of interaction needed. The premise of the solution is fairly simple: avoid getting trapped on social media when you should be crafting your content. For me, this meant using (1) certain editing software to produce and edit content, and (2) launchers to share it on social media:
Next time you find yourself multitasking (or simply being distracted) when you intended to be working, try to separate social media from the actual work, and focus on it.
Facebook Has 50 Minutes of Your Time Each Day. It Wants More by James Stewart on The New York Times. ↩