Social Media: 8 Tools For A Revolution From Within.

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash
  1. Greyscale your phone. This is a cracking tip suggested by my wife. You can create a shortcut to greyscale your phone screen with 3 clicks of the home button. It massively reduces the visual appeal of notifications and scrolling colorful content, especially Instagram.
  2. Delete the social media apps. I deleted Instagram a long time ago and have never really missed it. Then you only need to worry about browser usage…
  3. …Time-limit browser usage. You can do this with iOS Screen Time- within Settings. This is a (deliberately?) cumbersome but powerful tool. You can outright block sites with no utility but high addictiveness. E.G. Reddit. You can then set a daily time limit for Safari. I’m trying for two hours a day. We’ll see. You can also schedule daily ‘Downtime’ periods. Almost everything is initially blocked off with a prompt if you really need to access it. If you need an answer to something during that time, you can ask Siri rather than open a browser window.
  4. Read articles outside of the browser window. For reading longer articles: save them into the Pocket app, don’t read them in the browser. For the discovery of new content, you could use phenomenal email article aggregators like The Browser. Subscribe to email alerts for Substacks from writers you like.
  5. Reduce ALL computer-generated notifications to zero.
  6. Predetermine the salience of your human interaction. We justifiably turn to social media for connection, but let’s tip the balance in our favor. Mute group chats across all platforms that are unlikely to have urgent info. Create smaller group chats with people you want to have specific ongoing discussions with. My family-specific WhatsApp group means I have less need for Facebook’s dubious news feed.
  7. Increase the quality of the apps you do use. I try to spend dead time on the Kindle app reading books. There are also a bunch of apps that give you new skills (I’m trying a freediving app that helps build breath-holds right now).
  8. Select your own content. As one of the Netflix documentary experts notes: try not to click the algorithmically suggested videos on YouTube, but use the search bar instead. If someone else is suggesting content for you, that opens the door to them slowly manipulating your preferences.
  1. Fact check and bias check everything you post beforehand- especially if it’s news or political content. No source is perfect (even my beloved BBC). Ground News shows the volume of reporting on stories from across the partisan divide. I also haven’t used it much yet, but AllSides claims to show both sides of the debate at once.
  2. Remember that engaging with inflammatory content automatically boosts it, even if your engagement is itself outraged (“Look how stupid this is!”). It also ensures you get served more of that content.
  3. Try to seek out intelligent connections from outside your ideological bubble and share their content. Bear in mind each one of us is being served an often radically different reality from everyone else.
  4. Try and keep discussions civil and inquisitive. Ask the kind of questions that elicit thoughtful responses. A cracking example: “What have you experienced that I haven’t that makes you believe what you do?” Via the always wonderful Morgan Housel. This fulfills 3 core functions. Firstly it has the delightful ability to expose anyone who gets their opinions second-hand via cable news or social media. Secondly, it makes a direct appeal to personal experience, opening up emotions not facts. Thirdly it might actually make you reconsider your own opinions.

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