Speak to the geek

2 min read
14 Jan 2018
2 min read
539 words
Speak To The Geek
Our resident geek answers how social media addiction can cause a lot of problems and how to reduce the addiction

Smart phone use
Passively scrolling through Instagram and Facebook has reduced my attention span to that of my puppy. I recently even caught myself unlocking my phone and going straight to various social media apps without my intending to, and that seriously made me think about what these apps were doing to me. Unfortunately, I can't simply uninstall these apps, as I need them to promote my business and interact with my customers. What should I do?

It gives me so much happiness when people finally realise the grave effects passive social-media use can have on their attention span and their overall well-being. I too have been trying to raise awareness about healthy social-media use among my near and dear ones, but I've come to realise that only wake-up calls like the one you received can rouse people from their illusion of passive social-media use being an innocuous way of passing time.
Luckily, the tools that can help you mitigate, even reverse, the effects of technology-induced attention-span deficits are available in the same realm that attention-span-eroding apps exist in. Here, I will give you a few suggestions as to how you can moderate your phone use and actually use the phone instead of having it use you.

For starters, download Rescue Time, an application that monitors your internet use and generates reports and graphs depicting how much time you spend on each app. Usually, these reports alone should shake people up and make them think twice the next time they want to launch a social-media app. You also want an app called Forest; this app transforms your lockscreen to a garden with a cute little sapling. This sapling grows bigger and bigger (and eventually turns into a tree) the longer you stay off certain apps on your phone. And if you open any of those apps, the cute little sapling doesn't just stop growing--it dies. And the thought of killing a virtual tree--at least for the tender-hearted ones--can be a strong motivator to get on social media. But more often than not, these tricks aren't enough, as people develop almost an addiction of sorts to social media, and get restless when their mind isn't constantly being simulated by memes.

Viewed from the lens of neuroscience, social media posts that appeal to you lead to the release of dopamine (the feel-good hormone), and more often than not, it's this need for dopamine that compels people to start scrolling through social media. Over time, the neural pathways that fire when you get the dopamine hit strengthen and solidify, and it's this connection that you need to break. This is where meditation apps come in. Download Calm, a meditation app that features guided series on not just basic meditation, but also on focus and concentration strengthening, and healthy technology use.