Facebook PixelAccessible ways to combat social media addiction?
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Accessible ways to combat social media addiction?

Image credit: Image available free under CC license here: https://stocksnap.io/search/social+media

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salemandreus
salemandreus Jul 07, 2021
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Necessity

Is the problem still unsolved?

Conciseness

Is it concisely described?

Are there ways to help people beat social media addiction that work for them long term and don't cause major sacrifice/pain/disruption to their way of living and functioning?
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Creative contributions

Change the tools/ apps you use to avoid addiction

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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni Jul 08, 2021
I am putting relevant information together from the different sessions that have addressed this issue.
  1. No smartphone day: This would not feel like a major sacrifice if you and your friends do it together. You may make a habbit of having a monthly or more optimistically, a weekly no smartphone day.
  2. Change the social networking algorithm to avoid "the social dilemma" and addiction.
  3. Install a tool that detects the decision-making modulators around you: so that you identify the ones that are going to cause an addiction problem later. Maybe delete such apps or use them cautiously.
  4. Install a personal omnipresent content recommendation algorithm: to generate a better feed for yourself. @salemandreus, you did this manually (which is impressive), looking at your previous suggestion.
  5. AI-powered "what you should know" distractions: This will, again, navigate you towards a better, more meaningful, and relevant feed.
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Wholly addressing the individual dependency aspects with awareness of their root causes, rather than "cold turkey" withdrawal, using the 80/20 rule prioritisation

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salemandreus
salemandreus Jul 08, 2021
I’m basing this off of personal experience and reckon it could be refined, the tricky part is that it may be fairly individual dependent on the person, but often this individual approach is how general addiction is handled.
In my case I was massively addicted to Facebook and couldn’t quit it cold turkey, with a serious addiction from 2007-2020, encompassing many hours per day.
I detached myself from the individual dependency “hooks”, mainly from mid 2020 until January 2021, as breaking the need to log onto facebook was easier than fighting its pull online.
I’m no longer addicted and come online for practical reasons about once every 2 months.

This was my structure for breaking facebook addiction, intentionally starting with the easiest (80%) factors and ending with the most difficult (20%):
Firstly a quick win for me was I personally did not have the app, I used the browser on my phone, which took care of having to manage notifications and messages and also made the online experience more effort for me.

Secondly I ensured that whenever I created new online accounts for a site or service I never used facebook to sign in. This was only slightly more challenging as Google Chrome usernames can easily remember passwords and I preferred using Google accounts or phone number if needed. This removed external dependence on the existence of a facebook account.
Next I removed chat dependence through substitution to other chat apps to break the message-checking routine- this was still easy as I preferred these, not having Facebook Messenger apps on my phone I was already keen to avoid the mobile browser experience. Given there were few facebook contacts I intentionally came online to chat to and the rest were incidental as I used other chat apps, I ensured that the former group knew I was not responsive on facebook but on other chat apps.

I then started retraining what the algorithm showed me - this required some self discipline but it was easier to leave and unfollow the type of groups/pages which kept me unhealthily engaged rather than requiring restraint to ignore posts. This effort didn't have to last long though, as facebook learned quickly to recommend me less addictive content.
I was simultaneously analyzing the root cause of my addiction and realised the online check-in was my way of de-stressing through distraction. I started addressing those factors to prevent becoming stressed in the first place.
The other need was entertainment, so I replaced entertaining facebook groups with youtube videos, admittedly replacing one social network with another one but with fewer addiction factors for me and personally worth it). More recently I’ve been discovering less addictive more educational video sites, and extensions that remove the distracting features of youtube, and started investing in audio materials as another substitution so I can still be productive while consuming media.

Finally, Facebook events were the most difficult hurdle in quitting (the 20% of my 80/20).
I frequently came online for events so I found a technical solution - importing my facebook calendar into google calendar so I wouldn't have to check them on my facebook, although this meant potentially I would still have to check for non-rsvped/non-invited events.
Now I could see events top-down in my Google calendar without distraction I realised the majority of these were events I was not interested in attending. I realised the main events that mattered to me were ones I could either hear about directly from friends or access on Meetup. When Covid-19 reduced in-person events, I realised that there were few events I was significantly attached to, fewer still I would only discover on facebook.
During this process I also removed the power of notifications - I disabled all permissions for facebook to send me desktop browser notifications if I was online, including the sounds.
Later I created separate chrome accounts for work so I was not even able to access facebook from that chrome user.

Finally, the last time I cleared out my browser cache and had to re-add my passwords I didn’t log myself back into facebook so I could not even access facebook from my laptop. This added a further inconvenience as I could only do it from my phone’s browser, meaning I lost the habit of checking facebook in my other chrome account occasionally while working. If I wanted to check facebook it'd have to be in the slow-refreshing phone browser tab competing for my attention against far more accessible apps and notifications and only in the context of leisure time, (when it was far less appealing than the alternatives).

This incremental approach tackling the specific dependencies eliminated my "hooks" to check Facebook. I reckon the specifics of the implementation may vary by person depending on their "hook" factors but I think the building different dependencies and convenience/inconvenience factors to facilitate different behaviours can potentially also become part of a more generally structured approach since social media sites by definition share similar elements and features, and often build off the similar techniques (eg infinite scroll) to build addiction.
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salemandreus
salemandreus5 months ago
My reasoning behind using this approach and why I believe it worked is based on two-fold concerns:
I think one of the reasons quitting social media is often so difficult is because
1) it's so interconnected to so many aspects of how we run our lives and removing even one social media site from one's life or routine can involve a whole life rework.
2) It is multifaceted and different aspects require different approaches.
Thus for me given "cold turkey" didn't work because my routine and dependencies and habits simply did not facilitate that naturally, I realised I had to change my life on a systemic level to be independent of facebook, and to re-engineer patterns that previously redirected me naturally towards facebook to move me elsewhere for all those different needs.
Many of these were simple to deal with provided I dealt with them thoroughly once isolated, although combined they were seemingly insurmountable. The largest factors simply required a bit more creativity but were easy enough without the "80%" distractions obscuring the problem.
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General comments

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Povilas S
Povilas S5 months ago
salemandreus It's a great initiative, but you spread the focus of the session too wide, which makes it into a pseudosession as described here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1m9nfzkev-gbfhYPPi5ZvFofx8rfps-aYo6ZrVaOzC7E/edit. Therefore it will probably end up unlisted. I recommend choosing one aspect of many that you mentioned, which in your opinion might be the closest to the root problem of social media addiction and building a session around it, you could also do some research on various attempts that have already been done/proposed to solve this problem and take it from the furthest point they got to. Alternatively, you could propose an idea (instead of a session) how to solve this problem and it could spark a discussion on how to further improve it.
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salemandreus
salemandreus5 months ago
Povilas S Thanks! I took your advice and reduced it to just the one question.
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