Digital Social Loops

November 12, 2019

We all have digital social loops. You know what I’m talking about: we open a new tab, then we check our emails, then Twitter, then Instagram… and we continue with every social account we have to trigger the sweet dopamine release until we complete the loop and get back to what we were doing.

I’m guilty. Sometimes I wake up and check my phone for updates. Sometimes I stop in the middle of my work to check if I have any new Twitter notification. It’s an endless cycle I go through every day.

Is this era of social media and instant messages inherently bad? I don’t think so. I don’t want to delete my accounts. Sure, I lack discipline, but it’s something I can work on. The benefits of tweeting have been huge too. I received new work opportunities and connected with great people, some of whom I even met in real life. Similarly, I need emails in my life to get things done with others.

The problem is the frequency of my those social loops. Do I need to check my emails more than once a day? I don’t think so. Do I need to browse Facebook every day? Absolutely not.

The fight is about developing a healthier habit of social media consumption. I’m always reminded of Tim Ferris’ words about how he trains his customers to wait for his email replies. In the 4-Hour Workweek, he proposes to check and reply to emails twice a week to reduce the time we spend at work.

We are trained to compulsively check everything happening online because we fear missing out:what if I’m left out? What if something horrible happen? We have to rationalize those fears and act upon them. In my case for example, I fear missing an important support request or seeing 200WaD down. The former can be dealt with once a day, the latter can be solved with a website status page.

I’m working on this unlooping process. For a starter, I’ll reduce the quantity of loop I have in a given day by going more offline and practicing mindfulness while I’m online.