Why you can’t resist social media

Distraction in the workplace comes from many sources. Meetings, coworkers, clients, and the office environment itself are just a few of the sources. Then there are the distractions that come through your computer or smart phone. So why are these digital distractions the ones I chose to focus my attention on? Because, they should be the easiest to shut out. You could simply close your email, close your browser, and leave your phone in your pocket. But even an intelligent adult, like yourself, who has a good job, can’t resist checking their phone 60-100 times a day. Overcoming digital distraction isn’t simple. The deck is stacked against you.

The companies that profit from keeping you addicted have hundreds of neuroscientists, psychiatrists, and programmers working to keep you glued to your screen. They know the triggers and techniques to get you to act against your best interest. They have the ability to test and retest images, colors, and word combinations to find the perfect combination to keep you clicking.

For example did you know that the notifications on Facebook were originally blue to match the rest of the site’s color palate? Once they changed to red, a more alarming color, response to notifications skyrocketed. As a result every notification on your phone is now red. They know that a headline with a number in it gets 40% more clicks than without.

In his book Hooked, author Nir Eyal talks about the habit loop and innate human desires that apps exploit to keep you coming back again and again and again, despite your best intentions.

Social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and even Google make their money selling the hours of attention you give them to advertisers. Every minute you spend on these sites is worth a few tenths of a cent to them. Their goal is to maximize shareholder profit by keeping you there and clicking as long as possible. They are so adept at this that as of today’s writing their combined market capitalization is over $867 billion.

The world is starting to wake up to the problems that technology addiction causes. Solutions are starting to emerge as the pendulum reverses course. iOS and Android operating systems are starting to give you ways to monitor the time you spend on individual apps. Instagram now allows you to limit the time you spend scrolling.

My goal for this blog is to share solutions with those of you who are are ready to change your technology habits. Because in the words of Henry Ford, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”

Watch this Ted talk for more insight

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