On Thursday night my weekly report from Apple came out, stating my weekly screen time went up by 20%. How can that be? I don’t remember using it more than usual. Well…apparently I have. Examining it closely I realized social media is where my time was spent.
I’ve been writing about the importance of balancing screen time for years, sharing with you new researches and the problems we’ve been facing because too much screen time — from memory to eyesight, sleep and more, we know we need to limit our usage.
But we all find excuses why we can’t unplug, not even (or especially) from social media. Even if we know it’s for the best.
I guess I was no different. Yes, the shoemaker (not her children) walks barefoot.
Well, not anymore, I’m unplugging from social media. I know taking the first step is the hardest, so I would like to focus on it for now. Starting with my excuses, what I kept on telling myself the reasons for not disconnecting:
- Friends — My friends are scattered all over the world, and I would like to stay in touch with them.
- News — I get curated news and interesting articles by seeing my friends’ feed.
- Work — My work requires me to be online, connect with my audience (yes, you — thank you for your support!).
- Know the devil at first hand — As an expert I would like to study and hopefully experience first hand before writing about it. How can I help others if I do not experience it myself? For example experiencing FOMO(fear of missing out) or any other subject I write on.
Excuses, excuses, excuses!
Why excuses? because social media platforms were designed and orchestrated well by their creators to feed my excuses, feed my addiction.
No one is immune from screen addiction, not even the experts (like yours truly). This is bigger than us.
When studying addiction, you will find that it is fed not by reward but by never knowing whether or when the reward will come. Sounds familiar?! Facebook, Instagram, and other social media companies know that, and uses it to get us to keep on coming back to their platforms. It will not help them if we unplug, so they use everything they can to pull us back in.
Companies spend thousands of dollars to get us hooked, using every trick in the book to keep us coming back, as it’s their business, this is how they earn their living. One example is Facebook, when we see them constantly changing the algorithm so you will see different content every time we open the app or sending us notifications about our friend adding to their post, all to keep on pulling us back in.
Too much time
Earlier last year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg spoke about why he hoped that Facebook would see a decrease in the amount of time people spend on the site. According to Zuckerberg, Facebook was entering a new era of emphasizing the quality of the time spent on the site rather than the quantity of time spent there. “I expect the time people spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement will go down,” Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page. “But I also expect the time you do spend on Facebook will be more valuable. And if we do the right thing, I believe that will be good for our community and our business over the long term too.”
As much as I want to believe Mr Zuckerberg, this is not true. We see a rise in the average time we spend on social media. A recent report from eMarketershows that from 2014–2017, social media usage climbed by about 5 minutes a day for user, each year. The exception is last year when the use was about 3 minutes. For the average American, it’s at least 40 minutes a day on Facebook.
Let’s do the math:
40 min X 365 days a year = 14,600 minutes a year!!!!
Have in mind that this is just for Facebook. If you are also using Instagram, Snapchat or any other platform, this number jumps even higher.
I took Facebook because it is still the most common platform used (with 79% of American internet users), on Snapchat for example, the average is 25–30 minutes… now our 14,600 minutes become 25,550 minutes a year — that’s 255 hours (25,500 minutes /60 minutes an hour gets us to 255 hours a year),
255 hours! I will say it again, 255 hours a year!!!
There are enough hours in the day — we just need to use them wisely
This was my wake up call. If we constantly saying we wish there were more hours in a day, we found them. We will gain 255 hours if we only do this one small change and get off social media.
And as for my excuses:
- Friends — My friends will continue being my friends even if I don’t like their image of their latest lunch. I will need to pick up the phone and call them in order to catch up and stay in touch, or even better meet up in person. I know I will miss on some birthday reminders, but I can put it on my calendar like I used to before Facebook ??.
- News — Fake News, sounds familiar?! It’s time to subscribe on-line tonews publications in-order to get real and balanced news.
- Work — I can use other tools to stay connected without the risk of being pulled back to see other things on my feed (please leave your comment below if you want me to share my tools).
- Know the devil at first hand — I got it, I know. I’ve seen it and I don’t like it. Now it’s time to move on.
I’m answering my wake up call, and I urge you to answer yours.
For the sake of argument, open your weekly report and see how much time you spent on one of the platforms. Hopefully, it will motivate you to make the change.