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Social Media Is the New Smoking (theroamingmind.com)
435 points by nether on July 25, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 211 comments

> Will browsing your phone anticipating the next notification become a dirty habit that others will shun you for?

It is already frowned upon in some social circles, occasional browsing is okay but some people can go completely off reality when going through their Facebook feed, I have some friends like this(very introverted), when we met at a bar or restaurant we would make a "phones on the table" rule, first to reach for the phone pays the bill.

For me, the hyperbole of social media dependency is how it changed travel experiences. People always took photos of travels, but social media put that into comical territory.

It is bizarre watching other tourists around, how they navigate from spot to spot to get a picture in some of the most famous places on earth without ever stopping to absorb where they were, they never bothered to understand the history or the architecture behind some place, they have 75 pictures of the same place but probably couldn't tell you the color on the walls five minutes after the picture was taken.

I like to stay at hostels and meet other people(especially when traveling alone), there have always been people in their own bubble, but it is crazy how it changed in the last 3-4 years, everyone is so self-envolved on their phones that they are not even aware of their surroundings, you can come in and out of a room without being noticed, I've seen people spend their entire time locked in a room glued to their phones, sometimes even missing meals.

I have a dream to open a bar (or hostel) that is a massive Faraday cage so that phones and laptops on wifi simply don't work.

I'd call it "The Stone Age" or some similar pun.

(Yes, I would put up a sign to that effect notifying people - if they don't like it they can go elsewhere)

There is one in Berlin named Funkloch. Literally translates as radio hole, meaning an area where you can't get a signal. There's a pun in there too in that Lokal means pub, so you can read it as Funk Pub.

Where in town is that? I'm getting a few different results when searching. Would love to go and check it out!

Most likely this one: https://www.yelp.de/biz/funkloch-berlin

This tweet confirms there's a bar with smartphone ban in Weißensee: https://twitter.com/ennopark/status/567272387293761537

Only other "Funkloch" I found in Berlin is a youth center, so the above result is very likely the right one.

I also found this: https://www.facebook.com/Funkloch-684514891598702/ which is why I was wondering which of the locations it is.

Guess that looks legit too. Tho I like the other one because they lack any social media presence, which would fit with the theme ;)

it's the Weißensee one that I've seen. I didn't go there, just drove past. The other place in Treptow shows up on google more. But you would hope and expect a place that bans cell phones to not give a f*%# about their SERPs.

The Weisenßee one. I've never been, just zoomed past it while going to the lake.

Even though i don't care for it in a movie theatre, the FCC has traditionally taken a pretty dim view of trying to block someone's authorized radio communications.

Loads of buildings don't allow (or practically don't allow) cell signals :: nothing stops them from being built.

It's active interference the FCC takes a dim view to - passive interference (thick walls, loads of metal, etc) is fine.

There's a theater near me that I can get 4-5 bars of LTE outside, 1-2 bars near the doors, 3G just 20 feet inside, and only 1x or a bar of 3G in each screen room.

Don't see the FCC dropping the hammer on them because it's the way the building is constructed, not active interference

Harmful interference is one thing, but a radio-quiet room?

I think the idea is cool, but I have a feeling there would be quite a legal battle that ensues when someone is injured or dies in the hostel after they couldn't connect to 911.

Train tunnels, underground car parks and other reception black spots seem to have avoided litigation. Have we really reach the point where going outside to get reception is not something a reasonable person would think of?

None of those are deliberate though.

Just put a pay phone in the back, and make people who stay initial that they acknowledge there is no cellular service.

Don't place it in America, problem solved.

Happily, I'm not in the US

The DNA lounge tried something similar, but to the other extreme. They put computers with internet access in their club.

Please follow your bliss... if it's in the Bay, I know people will go. One thing... use Mu-metal and RF-impedance matched materials! They'll work a lot better than a Faraday cage.

Every place has this feature already if you're on T-Mobile.

Show HN: A wire and glue gun carrying drone that envelops any given House with a EM-Cage.

I don't think that's really necessary. I frequent a place that makes it very clear that cell phones are not welcome. There is a giant sign at the entrance saying as much. People respect it. I've never seen anyone pull out their phone here, I think the social pressure is enough.

Not as much fun though. The Faraday cage gimmick would be great for marketing.

How many people don't enter because they know they can't trust themselves to not pull out their phone? Or, how many more people would enter knowing it was physically impossible for them to check their phone?

I don't know how many people don't enter because they can't control themselves. They are usually very busy, sometimes line out the door, so it doesn't seem to hurt business very much. But I suppose the food is good so they have the luxury to set the rules.

Where is this place and what is it named?

It's Paula's in Capitola (Santa Cruz).

That's brilliant.

This is basically wilderness backpacking. It is sublime to hang out with likeminded folks, just focused on staying warm by a campfire, talking about your days.

Yep. I live in the Yukon (when I'm not driving around Africa) and have spent much of my life outside cell signals.

It's when I do go into a town that it slaps me in the face, and I think it would be cool to have a "refuge" in the town.

Of course the place would have no TVs either, and likely only very quiet chill music. Everything about it would be to encourage conversation with the people actually in the same room.

I've been looking for people like that, are you in the bay area?

Seattle. I was living in Bishop, California for a while though. I've wondered if there's a market for taking engineering types on these trips, if I emphasize them as tech-free escapes. You can always go through Meetup or sign up for the trips run by REI, Sierra Club etc.

This reminds me of an momentarily disturbing incident quite a few years ago. We were in a gothic cathedral when a large group came through the door. As one, they each raised a straight arm as if at a Nazi rally, and it took me a second to realize they were all using their compact digital cameras (a recent development at the time) to take pictures of the stained glass windows of the apse.

We have mostly stopped photographing our travels in favor of experiencing them, some time after the images became essentially write-only files.

For me the weirdest was the Coliseum I think, I took a few pictures myself then started wandering around, looking at the details, trying to see a little bit of what I couldn't get in history books or Google.

After a while, I started noticing people around me, they ported their phones from each of the more popular photo spots and went on to take between 10-60 selfies with slightly varying angles or facial expressions, upon finishing their session not once did they turn back and looked to see where they were.

Also when going to museums saw a lot of people going from display to display, photographing the artifacts/paintings, sometimes they also photograph the description and they won't actually read it.

I've had the reverse experience: When I first went on vacation with my wife about 10 years back, I was appalled at how much time she wasted taking pictures, but now I'm at a point where I want to scrape through all of my old media and find the old pictures I know I must still have.

"...It is bizarre watching other tourists around, how they navigate from spot to spot to get a picture in some of the most famous places on earth without ever stopping to absorb where they were..."

I took a class in photography once, taught by a famous photographer.

About half-way through the course he did a dead stop, turned to the class and said something like "The most important part of photography is learning when to put the camera down and enjoy the moment instead of trying to capture it"

He then took us on a short tour of important life events he had missed out on because he was too busy trying to get the picture.

It was a poignant moment, and a good lesson.

The craziest are pictures that don't contain any personal context, just snaps of architecture or scenery. The same photo has been taken a million times, a personal snap is indistinguishable from thousands available from a Google image search (a probably of lower quality).

I'm always having to tell people to put their phones away. I purposely have a really cheap phone, because I don't want to sit on my phone and use social media all day.

Sometimes I'll be sitting in a group with a few friends, and I'll be the only one not looking at my phone. I have to tell them to stop trying to socialise with people hundreds of miles away, when there's people right here.

As for travel, I've never bothered taking photos of landmarks, everyone has seen pictures of them before, probably better pictures than I can take.

In many situations I am on my phone so that I don't need to talk to anyone. I'm in the social circumstance for some other reason beyond my control.

This pretty much explains the public transport situation.

I listen to podcasts for the same reason, especially during my commute and in shops.

Once I get to work I ditch my earbuds and put on closed over-ear headphones (active noise canceling would be nice but I'm too cheap for it).

General rule of tourist photography:

When you look at photos you took 10 years ago, you discover that photos of places are boring. Photos of people you know are precious. Aim your camera accordingly.

> photos of places are boring. Photos of people you know are precious

If you have children you may find yourself losing interest in taking photos without them too. I've many photos now of nice sunsets or rainbows or views with a child awkwardly placed just into frame, because it seems a bit of a waste to take the photo without them in it.

I don't find this to be true at all. It always takes me back to that place, the feelings, smells, noises and everything. Maybe I just have a particularly good memory or maybe it's a side effect of taking the time to actually take everything in rather than just stopping for a quick photo.

Certainly not arguing on the "Photos of people you know are precious" part though.

I made the same observation. If I want to take a pic of a building or a monument, I try to get my girlfriend somewhere on the photo. It does make a difference.

I have the same feeling, I consider I don't usually need a picture(or a bunch) of a place by itself, these days you can Google better pictures of anything TBH, but pictures of you and the people you're with are unique.

It's really weird that people take pictures of something that they just have to google and they'll find hundreds.

Exactly. I (like most people) went through the "photograph everything" phase when I first got a digital camera. Then you have the realisation that when you're looking at your album, you skim through the empty scenes to find the photos with people in.

To expand on your point I find videos of loved ones more precious than photos of loved ones

A video encodes such much more information about personality and state of mind, the kinds of things that are much more interesting further down the line

Those things can be difficult to discern from a still image

It's complicated. Part of me, as a (very serious hobbyist) photographer agrees with the relevant xkcd [1]: that in some cases an entire trip can be structured around taking a particular set of photographs, and I have done this many times. I also have many old photos that are anything that boring; they are snapshots (pun intended) into my own history and in some cases now form my primary way of accessing some of my formative experiences. Some of my best photographs have also happened when I have spent several hours in the same place (not crowded tourist sites, admittedly), understanding the light, or what the people are doing (and gaining their trust), or waiting for that animal to do something wacky.

[1] https://xkcd.com/1314/

[Edit: fixed incorrect wording]

> It is bizarre watching other tourists around, how they navigate from spot to spot to get a picture in some of the most famous places on earth without ever stopping to absorb where they were, they never bothered to understand the history or the architecture behind some place, they have 75 pictures of the same place but probably couldn't tell you the color on the walls five minutes after the picture was taken.

I'm kinda this. Honestly though, for the most part I really don't care about whatever famous place I'm at, I'm just there because I know when I get back someone is going to ask did I go to X, Y or Z. So I go, I do that thing to check it off my list and spend my time doing what i actually want, which is usually more nature oriented (wilderness backpacking) and less touristy. I actually pretty much dislike going to the big tourist areas, and want to get done with it as fast as possible so I don't soak it in unless I have a real desire to be there.

Why do you feel the need to go just so you can respond "yes" to someone asking you if you went to X, Y, or Z?

I'm not asking as a criticism, just curious. It sounds like this is what many other people are doing, but perhaps they're not aware of their motivation.

I'm finding recently that whenever I am taking a picture or video at a live event I think to myself "I am experiencing this awesome thing through a small screen, what am I doing?". If it's a video I alleviate myself by darting my eyes off and on the screen to make sure the framing is still good until I'm done.

I don't regret the photos or videos afterwards, and I do aim for a healthy balance. The reminder is still there though -- I'm there for the live experience, so I should act like it.

I allow myself one photo, good or bad, and then I let myself experience the event unmediated. I usually go to live events to escape staring at a screen, so taking pictures or videos the entire time defeats the purpose.

I don't know about you, but I don't find that I'm missing out on anything by pulling my phone out when I'm waiting for my car to warm up. I don't think I'm wasting time because when I start getting bored with a movie that I'm watching, I pull out my phone and check my messages.

I don't miss the ten minutes of watching the news before leaving for work that has been replaced with ten minutes of Facebook. Maybe reading a novel for an hour after work is a better use of my time than reading Reddit for an hour, but maybe it's not?

I'm probably not super typical with my social media consumption, but I only use social media to fill the time when my kids are doing their own thing, my wife is on something, and I don't really have time to engage in some activity.

I get that social media is new and alarming that it's such an integral part of our lives, but maybe we need to step away from these hype grabbing headlines. What's the difference if a 10 year old is posting on Instagram, to a 10 year old in the 80s with a Polaroid? If kids talk on snapchat instead of over the fence in the backyard?

Again, I want to stress that I'm not saying we shouldn't look into the negative effects of social media. We certainly should. But we also shouldn't assume these things are bad because people with poor impulse control are ruining their lives.

>Again, I want to stress that I'm not saying we shouldn't look into the negative effects of social media. We certainly should. But we also shouldn't assume these things are bad because people with poor impulse control are ruining their lives.

The problem is not so much with the addiction to social media itself. There are certainly people who overdo it, but I don't think anyone is arguing that time wasted on Facebook is somehow the downfall of civilization. The real sinister part is the subtle ways in which social media affects your behavior and thoughts when you're not using it.

These 'news feeds' have become people's reality. There is no more critical thought or exploration of a priori ideas for most people. Their world is defined by the 'news' and other information fed to them by algorithms. It narrows your view of reality to a strictly defined set of terms that are easily digestible and form a coherent narrative; the exact opposite of what life really is.

Filling the empty space doesn't seem bad at first. Except you miss out on time to just think. Time in the shower just standing there doing nothing but thinking in the water is some of my favorite time. Always needing to be consuming something that is short-term satisfying is likely to lead to difficulty having the patience for longer-term ideas/thoughts. Side effects can include increased general anxiety and missing out on conversations/connections with people around you among other things. Eventually, the habits can take up more than your empty/down time and start eating away at time you should/want to spend doing other things like playing with your kids, etc. It's a slow process that is hard to detect until you arrive at a place you're rather dissatisfied with. It happened to me.

Great minds came up with great things because of 'boredom' and their ability to reflect during 'boredom'. Now, virtually there is no 'boredom' because of social-media. If you think that is good, it is not. It is similar to mindless eating of junk-food, instead of being in empty stomach.

I don't think your experiences are reflective of the masses.

I lack citations but here are some observations that I hope are recognised enough to be apparent.

People often find themselves unintentionally browsing Facebook mindlessly.

People also get addicted to the chase of social validation via likes.

People have been shown to be exhibit social anxiety caused by others' lives appearing to be more glamourous than their own thanks to cherry picking and smart photo taking.

> People have been shown to be exhibit social anxiety caused by others' lives appearing to be more glamourous than their

Yes. Not just social anxiety, but down right depression.

Source: Research Links Heavy Facebook And Social Media Usage To Depression => https://www.forbes.com/sites/amitchowdhry/2016/04/30/study-l...

Though "correlation vs causation" should be noted here. It may just be that people that are already depressed use Facebook more, instead of Facebook actually making you depressed.

> Lead author Lui yi Lin, B.A., who will be graduating from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine this spring, emphasized that, because this was a cross-sectional study, it does not disentangle cause and effect.

> “It may be that people who already are depressed are turning to social media to fill a void,” she said.

Your not really missing out on anything, but you are missing out on the chance for your mind to wander. Daydreams are the start of your next great idea.

That sounds like addiction to me. A lack of stimulation causing restlessness.

Counseling and meditation help me with this, but it's on ongoing struggle.

Here's an incredible (science based) talk about re-framing addiction as a type of 'accelerated deep learning', not a brain disease. This has been helping me a lot lately.

One of my favorite takeaways: "...[the addiction model] along with organizations like AA have people spending their lives thinking that their addiction is outside in the parking lot doing pushups and running laps getting ready to kick their ass.". His point essentially being that addiction is nothing but a learned behavior which can be suppressed and unlearned, but the disease model leaves people feeling helpless to their biology and genetics.


Weird metaphor...

And how is a dis-easing behaviour different from other disabilitating maledies?

I find that when my social media usage is under control, the short down times which aren't long enough to engage in something are spent just being me, in my own head. It's rarely a transcendental experience, but I usually feel more relaxed afterwards, and occasionally I have insights on what's going on in my internal life or observations of my surroundings. Each of these moments is inconsequential, but the cumulative effect of all these moments over weeks is huge. I notice the rich life full of people and experiences that I have. I am more focused and creative. I notice problems sooner and address them. I'm more attuned with my own goals and less swayed by manufactured desires or social pressures.

My control over my social media engagement ebbs and flows. I haven't achieved nirvana. But I've at least disengaged long enough and enough times that I can see the value in the time you are talking about.

I don't do a lot of social media as such, but I waste endless hours reading and commenting on Reddit, HN, Rock Paper Shotgun, and so forth. I feel like it actively makes my life worse, but I can't stop.

I can never tell if these articles are talking about me or not.

Delete your accounts ?

I feel like commenting is a waste of time. I often type stuff I end up not posting / deleting 2 minutes later. I never engage in exchanges more than 2 posts long (esp. if its discussing ideas, by then your point should be clearly made and it's worthless).

I read a lot of comments though, mostly at work. I like new ideas or insight in peoples lives and struggles.

I'm exactly the same. I often type out replies to people, then just go 'nah not worth it' and close the tab.

There is withdraw when people quit. I would equate it to something like the emotions after leaving the military or graduating college. It is a lose of a type of identity, manufactured but real feeling none the less.

You're missing having mental quiet time by always being attached to your phone. Take a minute or two to contemplate what's around you while you wait for your car to warm up.

Ironically smoking used to be quite the conduit for such quiet contemplative moments. All the more so in its social pariah death throes, with smokers forced out of the office or home, conjuring five minutes quiet from the chaos, in contrast with social media's soaking up of every moment of quiet opportunity with its endless distraction.

"What's the difference if a 10 year old is posting on Instagram, to a 10 year old in the 80s with a Polaroid? If kids talk on snapchat instead of over the fence in the backyard?"

Are you serious? You don't see the massive difference in those comparisons?

then don't engage in anything, just be still for a couple minutes

> I don't think I'm wasting time because when I start getting bored with a movie that I'm watching, I pull out my phone and check my messages.

This is the one I do take issue with, because you're disturbing anyone else trying to watch the film. If you're bored with the movie, leave; if you're watching it, watch it.

I think that the basic idea of the article is frighteningly true; social media is becoming that thing I use when I feel sick, bored, or just want to escape reality.

The problem is smoking feels the same wiether 1 person is doing it or 1 million people do it; social media only really works when everyone you know does it. This makes it even scarier when you realize this will make it exponentially harder for we as a society to make a decent dent in social media: if your high depends on others, you might pressure others into sustaining your high.

I get so many invitations to join Linkedin as well as questions about why I'm not on Facebook or other social media platforms that it drives me nuts. Why am I considered strange for not participating? It's like tattoos. Everyone where I live has multiple tattoos and I'm considered a freak because I don't have any. Maybe I just want to be a special butterfly.

I used to be way too involved in Facebook. One day I realized that I was spending way too much time seeking validation there rather than actually taking steps to better myself. I defriended literally everyone that I wasn't invested in, which was about 800 people. The amount of time I freed up was incredible. It didn't hurt my social life at all, since I still keep in contact with everyone I want to keep in contact with.

Social media is largely a narcissistic pursuit, and studies have repeatedly found that higher social media use is correlated positively with narcissistic personality traits. I wouldn't be surprised to learn the same thing about people with tattoos as well. The number of agonizingly boring people I know who are constantly getting tattoos is absurdly high.

That being said, I know a lot of people who have plenty of tattoos and are not narcissistic at all. But it seems like the recent trendiness of tattoos is somewhat correlated with the everyone is special movement.

It's a question of social norms. Most people I know use Facebook as a messenger and event calendar tool but ignore the dopamine-hacking feed, and most people I know use LinkedIn as a rolodex and recruitment tool but ignore the... whatever else LinkedIn does.

From the perspective of someone who uses Facebook almost entirely to organise weekend drinks and birthday parties, refusing to use Facebook is like refusing to read a pdf or respond to text messages, because it forces your friends to use other tools to stay in touch with you, just to solve a problem they don't have.

YMMV of course.

It has been demonstrated that social media REDUCES overall happiness. Just say that. At least that works for me.

> It's like tattoos

Come on! It takes literally nothing to create a Facebook account. You can even use a fake mail and name (it might be against the ToS but you still can). The only thing it will take from you is time. (No it won't make your life worst, just use messenger.com and not the main API with the newsfeed so that people can contact you.)

I would compare that to having a phone back then, when it was kind of the only way to contact you. If you don't want friends, then probably no-one will harass you asking if you have a phone number so you're fine.

Nothing, except your time.

Your time, and the crude attempt to model what you consider to be worthy of your time, so that people with money can waste it in just the right way to make you do what they want you to do — watch an ad, buy a product, vote for a policy.

> Nothing, except your time.

For the benefits that it gives you, I don't see that as a waste. I can keep in touch with all my friends around the world, and I can organize trips, parties, dinners, get invited to weddings, see the new baby of a friend, etc... I'm tired of only reading the bad side of this story.

If that's all you use it for, you are a rarity.

Of course, every example you just gave can also be done with email, and email doesn't hide things from you just because seeing them means you spend less time using email.

> If that's all you use it for, you are a rarity.

Yeah it can be used for much more. These are just good examples.

> Of course, every example you just gave can also be done with email

It's not practical. That's the point.

When I have wanted to do the things you gave as examples, email wasn't merely practical, it was superior to Facebook.

Anything but the actual point of comparison between two compared things is usually very different.

It seems you pretend to not understand how a comparison works until you make one yourself, let me demonstrate:

> I would compare that to having a phone back then, when it was kind of the only way to contact you.

Come on! It's just a set of credentials and bytes in databases, not a bunch of plastic and metal. And don't you know that packet switching and circuit switching have like nothing in common? Also, since when were all phones the same shade of uninspired blue, is there any part of this you're not straight making up?

I have no idea what you're talking about.

Like don't understand a comment at all, even say because it's "barely English" - but then say someone else is correctly summarizing it? If you're not even making the slightest attempt to understand, then you not understanding isn't even a data point. Reread until you do or have an actual question or criticism.

Has Anyone Really Been Far Even as Decided to Use Even Go Want to do Look More Like?

> The problem is smoking feels the same wiether 1 person is doing it or 1 million people do it

Smoking also requires millions of people doing it to work. You need enough consumers so that the manufacture of cigarettes is viable, and both acquiring the habit and continuing it are highly dependent on the number of smokers that you surround yourself with.

It would be very difficult to be the only smoker in a large enough community of non-smokers.

Corolarily, when surrounded by non-smokers, it's easier to non-smoke, too.

Not to mention smoking is often a social activity -- the "smoke break."

Smoking regularly is also terrible for your health, which i think is the main reason it's become so maligned. Despite all the supposed harm social media is not nearly as damaging.

That's a red herring, but I'll bite. It can lead to smoking, i guess. So it's potentially at least as dangerous. And the other way around, too, so smoking is comparitively potentially just as dangerous.

Not sure what you mean.

Social media can lead to smoking? In what way? I mean beyond the trivial "anything can lead to anything" way.

I remember one vacation which was the first after many years: I was lying at the beach enjoying the view. I was so happy that I could afford some vacation after years of suffering and watching millions of vaction pictures from my friends on Facebook.

Avid for revenge, I took a picture of the stunning beach view and wrote in big letters 'MY LIFE IS BETTER THAN YOURS'. At that moment I realized what Facebook is about (without posting anything).

I took a 3 week road trip recently, and I couldn't find the motivation to post anything about it on social media. I realized on the first day that worrying about social media was taking me out of the moment, and I don't think I opened Facebook until two weeks in to the trip.

I took lots of photos and a bit of video, and I'm really glad I have photos to remember my trip with, especially the photos I have with other people. I haven't found a reason to share them on social media though.

That being said, I did go to a wedding, and I was happy that people shared the photos of that on social media, since the number of people there was way too large to actually make sure everyone in the photos received a copy.

This is why my facebook is entirely memes. I'd much rather look at lame captions poorly matched with cute cat and dog pictures, than see yet another 'My life is better' post.

I think it's how you look at it.

I look at pictures of my friends doing cool things as inspiration to keep doing cool things. Not in a competitive sense, but seeing my friends having a great time inspires me to keep traveling and keep doing interesting things.

This is also exactly my view about Facebook usage. I think it's a good, healthy use case of it, especially for people with means to (which you and I appear to be).

I think the general negative view is because people without the means (for example, money, to travel, for variety of reasons), simply become more miserable as they watch friends travel on FB.

It's probably a more complicated sociological topic. Many would like to paint it just black or white though.

It's the fact that it's an unreasonable and unhealthy comparison.

It's like watching someone's highlight reel and thinking their the best player ever. Of course not, no one's ever as good as their highlight reel.

We all have time and means for a vacation or two but when everyone only posts their vacations on a platform like FB, it makes it seem as though everyone's life is wonderful. We never see the day to day drudgery.

As much as everyone shits on Snap, it's been the perfect platform for a more 'realistic' view into the lives of friends and acquittances. You feel a lot more connected with folks when everyone's posting shit like morning coffee, memes, stupid selfies, small wins and the day to day.

Unless you don't have the money to do those things.

> 'MY LIFE IS BETTER THAN YOURS'. At that moment I realized what Facebook is about

I don't do the facebook thing myself, but close friends do, and they use it as a social organiser, not an arena for braggadocio. Want to get rid of a table? Facebook. Shitty day and want to invite friends to the pub? Facebook. Cat memes? Facebook.

I'm not fond of facebook, but let's face it; you can't blame the hammer if you make a shitty chair with it.

Except in this case the Hammer is a finely-tuned addiction machine, engineered by some very smart, well-paid people at Facebook.

> you can't blame the hammer if you make a shitty chair with it.

Sure I can, if the hammer has defects that cause it to make terrible chairs for nearly everyone who uses it.

Did you know? Facebook stores what you write into the text box even if you don't send it.

He's getting downvoted but this is (was?) actually true, there was a study about it. Link: http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/future_tense/2013/1...

S/He's getting down voted because (I assume, it wasn't me) he changed the topic/point of the conversation, not because what he wrote wasn't true. Often a comment on something social/subjective/squishy devolves into a objective discussion about the irrelevant details..... like this comment does.

His/her comment is totally relevant, I didnt know facebook was that sneaky to actually save that.

That probably doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of the sneakiness that goes on.

It's highly relevant. Facebook now knows he wrote "MY LIFE IS BETTER THAN YOURS" and deleted it. Tells a lot about a person, doesn't it? What if someone wrote something else and then deleted it and somehow that caused trouble because facebook saved it? Just food for thought.

> In their article, Das and Kramer claim to only send back information to Facebook that indicates whether you self-censored, not what you typed. The Facebook rep I spoke with agreed that the company isn’t collecting the text of self-censored posts.

The study and an FB representative both refute that the content of "self-censored" posts is collected.

If Social Media Is the New Smoking then I'm smoking 12 packs a day. HELP!

Seriously,there is truth in this statement. People are sinking into their phones and computers and we all think it's amusing. Living peacefully in a society is hard enough when we have to learn to deal with one another. What will happen when we lack those abilities because all we need to do is interact with our technology? Red lights need to be popping up all over the place.

"Living peacefully in a society is hard enough when we have to learn to deal with one another. What will happen when we lack those abilities because all we need to do is interact with our technology."

Being wrapped up in social media might serve as a way of pacifying society. When unemployment is rising due to automation and policy, give the masses shiny websites they can spend all day on and lots of computer games, and then they won't get together in real life much and riot. William Gibson envisioned such a future in his recent novel "The Peripheral".

True there is more than one possibility but extremes in anything always bother me. I can't think of a time where it's good.

To your point Social Media reminds me of Soma in Brave New World. In the book it was a drug, now it's new technology.

By the way, I highly recommend the book. It's a bit boring now but it's worth reading. It's not too long. It gives lots of good food for thought.

You do realize that Facebook and Google already do this with the intention of squeezing every last advertising dollar possible out of you, right? There doesn't need to be a conspiracy to pacify the masses (assuming this crap even does that because I think there's a very good argument that it doesn't); distracting people is just a side effect of exploiting your data.

"Being wrapped up in social media might serve as a way of pacifying society."

Looking at the current political climate, the exact opposite is happening.

At least as far as the USA goes, society looks pretty peaceful to me. Sure, there have been a few protests, but nothing especially big or violent. The most dramatic sign of discontent of the masses was expressed through a peaceful presidential election, and all the spleen that most people want to vent, gets vented online in social networks or the comments section of partisan blogs.

"Opiate of the masses"*

* in the US, actual opiates are also the opiate of the masses, of course

Man, this sentiment is so disturbing. Is this something people find desirable?


>What will happen when we lack those abilities because all we need to do is interact with our technology? Red lights need to be popping up all over the place.

It might not be entirely tinfoil to believe it would lead, in to the words of O'Brien, to this: "If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever."

The vision put forward in 1984 was fundamentally enabled by a breakdown/loss of empathy, and that's our main ability that's gonna be lost if society develops in the way you've suggested.

> "That the dude off in the corner consuming his Instagram feed will be looked at the same as the guy standing at the street corner sucking on a Marlboro."

I don't think that's ever going to happen. Social networks, contrary to smoking, are built on the very nature of human beings: being social animals. And that's certainly not going away. It would be like wishing that the buddies socializing on the corner would be looked at the same as the guy smoking next to them.

There's no doubt that our natural inclination to socialize is being used and twisted through these slot-machine social networks, but if you're going to wish for something, wish for better social networks, or better education to help people control themselves, just not for humans to stop being social.

> Social networks, contrary to smoking, are built on the very nature of human beings: being social animals.

Bullshit. After quitting I still went to the smoking area at work just to hang out with the people that were taking a break there. Especially when it was completely accepted smoking was considered very social, like grabbing a beer together still is. The "hey let's grab a smoke" is what I miss about smoking.

I've never smoked (cigarettes) but I have often envied that a smoker could go and just sit, alone at the bar say, just a moment of peace and calm, and it wasn't weird that there was a guy there just staring into space, because he was "having a smoke" and that was an activity in and of itself. Or on a park bench or just anywhere. I sometimes fake playing with my phone, just so I can do it.

Indeed. Since I quit smoking I miss the inarguable excuse (not just to others but myself as well) that smoking offered to leave a party, go outside, stare into the night's stars and just relax while pondering the universe and my own insignificance.

Can anyone think of a good non-carcinogenic substitute?

Realizing you don't need an excuse to do what you like doing.

Taking a moment to relax and gaze at the stars or enjoy a coffee on your own just sitting there lost in thought is as good an activity as having a smoke. I really don't see people judging other people for it.

Or if you're actually looking for an activity not an excuse, just thinking about a interesting topic/problem and writing down the thoughts going through your head on your phone (or even better onto a piece of paper/notepad, no interruptions) can be an very satisfying activity I found out.

Really helps me to focus on whatever I'm thinking about too.

Easier said than done, but wake up an hour earlier and go for a run. Don't need to kill yourself, just go outside or to the gym or something.

Although it won't give the same social protection, chewing a gum is a ritual for me and helps me relax. I started this habit after seeing it on the show House of Cards and to my surprise it is really effective for me :).

I think you can always say that you need some fresh air and go out.

A non-smoking table. We have one at work.

It's mostly empty, though.


A book :)

Former smoker here, currently vaping. Weaned myself all the way down to zero nicotine, preparing to take the plunge and give it up altogether. I've already recognized that the physical act of having a smoke is more addictive for me than the nicotine. I've come to the same conclusion that you did. I need to find a phone number that I can call and listen to a recorded message or something, just so I will have an excuse to escape outside and disconnect for a few minutes.

Sure, smoking can be considered as a social habit. But you can say the same of any drug. If it was only the social part which was important, you shouldn't have any problem starting a new habit of taking a break for another arbitrary reason (go for some fresh air, glass of water, just want to take a break, etc.). This type of break can work, but it's definitely not going to have as much success as would a smoke break. Hence I say that the mean reason for those breaks was not social interaction, the social was just a side effect (albeit a pleasant one).

I totally get it but, and I had this mild disagreement with my wife recently, what if I'm on duolingo learning Spanish? What if I'm checking my investments or making a trade? What if I'm texting with a friend who just lost a loved one? You can't make assumptions about what people are doing on their phones all the time. I spend too much time on my phone, but a lot of it is useful and productive. With that said, I'm firmly in the "I need to stop doing the unproductive things that I do on my phone" camp.

>what if I'm on duolingo learning Spanish? What if I'm checking my investments or making a trade?

...ah, the Paul Erdos defense:


> I spend too much time on my phone, but a lot of it is useful and productive.

Looks like we might need to an another item to the list:


I'm all for raising the awareness about how dangerous any addiction can be, but comparing amphetamines and alcohol to using a smartphone is a bit far-fetched.

There are many things you can do with a smartphone, many uses are bad, but some are good. I'm in the same case as the post you replied to. I use my smartphone to review flashcards and read books when I commute, and I don't see any better way to use my time.

Nothing pisses me off more when I am talking with someone and they take their phone out to check a notification or people using their phone during a conversation or meeting. Once someone pulls their phone out, I stop caring about the conversation, meeting etc... While cigarette smoke gives me a headache, I would actually prefer someone pull out smoke as I know they are still engaged in the conversation or meeting.

Social media in my opinion is an oxymoron.

Yeah, I usually stop talking when someone does that and wait for them to look up, though sometimes they don't...

The other day I saw a woman on the subway spending almost 5 minutes trying to take a flattering selfie.

It was pretty sad.

Ha. I have a Facebook friend (actually the wife of a friend) who clearly spends hours dolling herself up for her Facebook profile photo, which she updates every few weeks. Full makeup, hair mussed just so, just the right angle and smile. Instead of thinking, "man, Candy's looking great!", I'm thinking, "it's kind of pathetic that she thinks anyone cares enough about her profile photo that she would spend that much time on it."

There was someone in mobile repair who said the other day that some customers insist on retrieving dozens of selfies.

I'd argue 'social' in media and in beings are different things. And regarding the very nature, we're all dopamine junkies. That little kick after a cigarette and a fresh like on FB do the same thing to your brains, google 'social media addicts' - you'll get the picture. Facebook and social is just like Marlboro and independence.

Maybe they don't do the same thing, because the pathway is different, so the feedback is directed differently, as you say, different things. Maybe they are not all that different because both work, in part, by association with a perceived in-group. Then again, social networking, ie. facebook in it inception, has a focus on sexual instincts, whereas smoking, by my estimate, mostly uses hunger (and other pain) related pathways.

> Social networks, contrary to smoking, are built on the very nature of human beings: being social animals.

I can’t think of much less social than sitting by yourself, in your own little world, consuming an endless feed of nothing on a web site. If there’s anything Social Media isnt, it’s “social”.

Early January I removed the Facebook, Instagram and Twitter apps from my phone (don't really use any other social media). Since that time I think have have logged into Facebook twice (desktop browser) only to be presented with a barrage of gunk on which I closed the browser tab. See yasss...

Every once in a while I will scroll through my Twitter feed (desktop browser). I follow a lot of pixel art artists so I get to see some interesting things.

However, I don't want this on my phone anymore. My phone will only have the actually utilities I need. Phone, SMS, maps, email and a decent battery life.

Also, I turned off all notifications on my phone as well. I.e, don't interrupt me. I'll get to it when I get to it.

The negativity around the US election was the catalyst for me to stop browsing Facebook. I'd wake up in the morning, scroll through my feed and my stress would hit the ceiling. It was a shitty way to start each day. When I sat back and thought about it critically, I also realized how much I enjoyed getting likes on things I posted, and I felt uncomfortable with that. It's one thing to enjoy it a bit, but I was spending large amounts of time thinking about a witty message or a perfect photo just for the sake of getting lots of likes. That was enough to prompt me to remove the app from my phone, and I haven't missed it at all.

Now being "off the drug", I am more aware of others' usage and feel uneasy about it. Watching my wife mindlessly pop open the app and scroll through her feed, sometimes exiting conversations midway through makes me realize that I had been doing the same things for years. I've also noticed that I have less desire to take pictures, and I'm not concerned with them being perfect - I only want enough to document my life for my own memories, not to garner likes or to craft my public image.

Having to go on Facebook occasionally (like responding to an event invite), I still feel the siren's call to just scroll through the feed a little. But I know that reading one post won't be enough, so I'll keep scrolling and scrolling...so I try to avoid even letting my gaze fall on it.

I have been off Facebook for about 5 years and recently just got off Instagram about 2 months ago. I can't believe how much longer my battery is lasting lol.

The big kicker for me quitting was that if I became the slightest bit stuck on a task at work, I would reach for my phone and get lost in the instavoid.

Since I quit I have been much more productive and also noticed I don't habitually dive into social media when I become bored.

Also off facebook for about five years. I've said it many times, it's surprising how little I miss it. Sort of like junk food, it tastes great but surprising how little you miss eating it when it's gone.

I’ve been off Facebook for at least 5 years, and the quality of life improvement was greater than anything I’ve done since quitting TV (about 12 or so years ago). I now have time for two fairly time consuming (physical world) hobbies, whereas before it was endless vacuous screen-time, devoid of purpose. Highly recommended—you won’t miss it!

Smoking causes self-harm through use. But do cigarette companies build a giant FBI file on you in order to sell it for profit to others? others who believe Information is power and want to manipulate you for political and economic success?

As you can tell, I'm on the cynical side of things. It hurts my social life no doubt. Perhaps this is similar to being a non-smoker in the 40s. Hell, I bet that I'm a victim of second hand social media.

"second-hand social media" is a brilliant coinage. it's perfect to describe non-users who are still affected by shadow profiles, ubiquitous logins and trackers, the walling-off of some discourse, and facial recognition capture.

> second-hand social media

Thanks for this term.

I added 'second hand social media' to my collection of interesting concepts, thanks.

Interestingly my social life suffered both from a lack of social media and a lack of smoking, since smoking breaks were an ubiquitous form of bonding at my high school.

I broke my phone about a year ago, and it took a few days to sort out a replacement.

In that time I went through exactly the same process I did when I quit smoking. I became aware suddenly of all the time, all the gaps, all the moments that I had filled with a quick look at my phone.

And once it passed - elation, freedom, seeing the world with open eyes and a clear head.

I was sad when my new phone arrived, and looking back I wish I had found a way to stay clean.

About 7 years ago, I spent about 20 days abroad. Didn't have a data plan so my phone stayed in my suitcase the entire trip and didn't have a computer.

By the end I felt that I engaged with the world a lot more with a feeling that my perception was sharpened.

It felt great but didn't last long on my return. Because my life involves computers.

Today the idea of spending almost a month away from a PC would mean I'd have to quit my job.

But if I had the opportunity again, I would love to unplug myself. Not sure if I'd have the willpower though.

If I didn't appreciate the GPS in my smartphone so much I'd totally just use a Nokia 105.

>...I wish I had found a way to stay clean.

Anyone have success stories to share? I've tried adding various sites to my hosts file. But I seem to lapse after a while, since I can restore the file anytime I want to. Any negative reinforcement ideas? Like an annoying sound (baby shrieking?) played or an electrical shock when browsing to particular sites? Any methods to prevent yourself from uninstalling things like that though?

Any ideas on how long it might take to get over any "withdrawl" period? Like you only need to "tough it out" for a month, and then it becomes more manageable?

Figure out what you are getting out of it and find something that is similar, but without the downside.

I have read that TV watching strongly correlates to people having exhausting jobs. So, they come home and zone out in front of the TV, too tired to do anything else. I think social media serves a similar function for many people. But if you crave social connection and you are getting it primarily via social media, it is sort of like eating a single potato chip when you are hungry.

Go find better social connections and these faux social connections won't be a case of "I can't believe I ate the whole bag and now I want to vomit, yet I'm still hungry too!" I think of addictive activities as those which grow a hunger rather than satisfying a hunger. If you find a way to satisfy your need, addictive things are less tempting because you just aren't starving anymore.

Also, just get more rest so you aren't spending so much time doing empty activities because it is all you have the energy or mental focus for. Or otherwise rearrange your life so that you are getting the depth or density you need of a particular thing and these types of behaviors get crowded out by healthier ones.

I hide the Facebook app in a folder on my iPhone to keep it out of sight and out of mind. I still keep it around just in case I need to hop on for an event invite or something.

You should also turn notifications off--once Facebook notices you haven't logged in lately, they'll start sending you random "activity" notifications to draw you back in.

As for my laptop, I just signed out of Facebook in my browser. That was enough of a deterrent to keep me away. (I also deleted my quicklinks to my feed as well.)

It took me about a month and now I don't even think about it.

I started small and it's been somewhat effective, but I haven't stopped completely. What works well for me is only opening Facebook in private mode in my browser (which has other benefits as well, I was growing sick of seeing ads in FB from other sites I was using.) I have to log in every time I use it so I'm forced to think about it first. I do this on desktop and on my phone. I still use it but a lot less.

As you have found out yourself techniques which revolve around setting an artificial block don't work well. That's because they fail to really address the problem. As soon as you move into an environment without those blocks the addiction will return instantly and your willpower "training" will have be a waste of time.

Unfortunately it seems the only real method is indeed "toughing it out". Books help a lot in this regard as whenever you feel the pang you can start reading. Since this activity involves concentration over longer periods of time and no task switching, it's tremendously helpful to rewire your brain over time. You definitely feel the effects after a few weeks.

Block the app in the phone. I did just that, and don't want to look back ever again.

I didn't close the account because it's actually useful for some situations (found a lost dog last week and need to post about it so I can find the owner). But other than that, it feels awful to log back into Facebook. I left messenger installed because of the same reason I have whatsapp. It's actual chat, not posting pics or whatever (and I don't care about the "status" that some contacts share).

I've done this in a few ways. I go backpacking in the wilderness where there's no reception, and there's this Buddhist monastery I visit in San Diego where they ask you leave your phones in your car (it's a LOT better that way). I'd like to do a no-screens day once a week, unfortunately working in tech right now makes that difficult.

I was hospitalized for a few days and didn't have access to my cell phone. When I was discharged and handed my phone...I didn't even want to turn it on. Never gone back to that impulsive behavior since.

Want to go insane on this. Turn your phone off during work and on dates. It's a huge new level of focus and clarity.

I don't shut my phone off but I do keep it in do-not-disturb mode while I am at work and check it once every hour or two. I have email on my computer so I don't need it for that. Work is stressful enough without my phone constantly squawking at me.

Today I'm going to answer cynism with cynism:

> will social media become the new smoking?

No. Smoking produces cancer, that makes some people really worried. It is even worst if you are pregnant.

> Will browsing your phone anticipating the next notification become a dirty habit that others will shun you for?

No. Unless there are other more cool ways of social media. If you are still using My Space, maybe you already feel like this.

> There are a few instances where it works well but for every 1 nugget of goodness that there is, there are 4 nuggets of bad.

Supported by which data?

> I know I am sounding negative here, but it is the truth.

Ooooh, it's the true. Duh.

> I always feel better after interacting with someone face-to-face.

Me too. Social media doesn't exclude the possibility to have human interaction unless you are in a 90s movie connected to a VR headset. If that happens, you are trapped in "the computer world" and lost for ever.

> social media will never feel like a true genuine connection.

Because it is not. Reading a newspaper doesn't feel either as a "genuine connection", but keeps me up to date with the news. Sending a mail doesn't feel either as a "genuine connection", but I get my job done.

> While naive to believe so, I have to hope that when my son becomes ready to consume the social media lifestyle, by then it will have been a passing fad and ostracized like the cigarette packages of today.

Or he can be educated to understand for what is useful, and for what not, and what are the risks. Abstinence education doesn't work.

If social media produces widespread depression (based on the studies posted by other commenters) it can well become a health hazard, albeit not as damaging as smokes.

>Or he can be educated to understand for what is useful, and for what not, and what are the risks. Abstinence education doesn't work.

I don't disagree outright but unfortunately all the education in the world still makes a person vulnerable against societal pressure. If you are a non-smoker in the 1940s, you still have to breathe smoke wherever you are. If you are a non-user in the 2010s, your social life (especially if you are young) is highly likely to be negatively impacted.

I'm so, so glad I grew up in a world without social media (with the exception of maybe Myspace blowing up when I was in HS).

I can't imagine that growing up with an iPhone and access to FB/IG/Snap from elementary school onward is a healthy experience for kids from a mental health/social anxiety POV. I guess only time will tell.

I'd also imagine being a teacher these days would suck because of phones. I don't know how schools manage that these days.

I'm probably around your age but I remember being a kid and always fantasizing about having some kind of "personal technology" like a phone or device you could take anywhere with you. For the longest time the computer I used was owned by my entire family and was in a common room in our house. I didn't buy my own computer, a laptop, until I was an adult. I didn't have any cell phone until I bought my own as an adult.

But now every 10 year old has their own smartphone, and they are dialed into Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and the internet-at-large 24 hours a day, and while there are obvious benefits in terms of convenience, there is also an "ick" factor to it for me.

In college social media consumed me. Instead of going out and having fun I was watching my friends go out and have fun. It got to such a bad point that I was lurking enviously across random profiles.

In 2013 I gave up Facebook and it felt like a deadweight lifted. I stopped worrying about what acquaintances were up to. Friends and I kept in touch through conventional conversation. I endured the same awful feeling with Instagram when I moved 3000 miles away from my friends and family.

Everyone is crafting an online identity of how they want to appear and we all know we're doing it. There's little room for raw, unedited perception. Every moment has to be post card or else you don't measure up. Networks like Facebook and Instagram are a self-fulfilling prophecies of low self esteem.

Literally my thoughts on this topic. Albeit, I have not got rid of my account yet due to university. However, I disabled notifications and mainly use messenger. I wiped my pictures, never check in places and occasionally like posts.

I enjoy my solitude. Maybe it's a slight bit of mental illness, but I cannot stand notifications. I'll use my phone when I want to, not when it wants me to. When I'm in a waiting room, it's amusing to watch everybody else on their phones, except maybe an old guy in the corner.

Then I realize I'm the old guy in the corner.

I'm with you 100%. I only want notifications of work critical information or direct messages from friends and family. Everything else is usually just a hook to get you to "engage" with more advertising.

I often wonder if social media is the reason behind the dismal productivity gains we've seen in the last decade.

I think this is a really well thought article. I can sort of see the equivalent of The Insider in 20 years time, with Zuck at a congress hearing saying that 'social media' is not addictive.

Facebook, Reddit, hacker news.. all are addictive.

I started with slashdot in 96/97? then Reddit, now hacker news. Twitter might be the same but I don't partake.

The fundamental problem is you read yesterday's news instead of inventing the future.

> fundamental problem is you read yesterday's news instead of inventing the future.

..and this my friend, is such an understatement. I wish everyone hooked on social media to read this phrase every hour.

I do, indeed, read HN, because it does offer some insights in the future. I had lots of ideas from the shared articles and associated comments.

> The fundamental problem is you read yesterday's news instead of inventing the future.

Well at least you're prevented from reinventing the wheel ;)

Yes, if you follow the lifecycle from exclusive expensive gadget only the rich can afford down to ubiquitous device which affords no status it would seem likely that conspicuously demonstrating you are beholden to the little box will be avoided by the upper strata, not being busy and not needing a phone because you have 'people' for that will be the new norm. The truly wealthy will be carrying a book.

Your attention is now helping how the corporation want you to use your time to help them make money. It all seem like a win win but your share of win is much lower. You miss out on introspection of yourself or other matters, that's just the tip or the iceberg

I'm sitting here watching my child at the park and reading Hacker News. I don't use social media but definitely am addicted to being distracted.

>"After watching a man almost wander into the street while browsing his phone, my wandered a bit; will social media become the new smoking?"

The opening sentence is about not paying attention and yet it contains two glaring errors, spelling and grammatical.

Did this individual really not even bother to proof read their opening sentence? Maybe the author might be better asking "is blogging the new fast food?"

"It's the new smoking, an expensive/unhealthy pacifier for poor people."

by djyaz1200 62 days ago on: Facebook – cancer of our generation"

sitting is the new smoking, social media is the new smoking, sugar is the new smoking...

...vaping is the new smoking?

I feel like we should get rid of smoking before making a new one.

Are you surprised that there are more things we do that are both bad for our health and difficult to give up?

I feel it's clear the fad is waning, but that's my experience among my crowd. For young children, for grandparents, maybe for other countries it's not the same. For example Facebook's trendiness is in that familiar slow motion fall. The same one blogs experienced, or Instant Messenger. But "social media"? No, contrary to my experience, social media is still trending up. It should be interesting to see the backlash grow, the holdouts dig in, and the slow fade to irrelevance and memory. In ten years you might ironically send a foodie to your friends alongside a status update about how cute your cat is. Or a hamburger themed math problem presented by a Minion. Or maybe social media is the new jeans (long term) or the new beer (very long term).

I removed social media from my life years ago because I found that it wasn't helping me in any way whatsoever. I'm not sure I would go as far as to declare it a social epidemic on the level of smoking, yet it's hard not to worry about (what seems to be) the growing fixation young people have on their social media lives [1] over their real life. I genuinely wonder what it's like to grow up as a teenager in the social media world we live in today.

[1] http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/teenage-driver-li...

I think the analogy is true, but in a much more serious way. Smoking is the defining health issue of the previous generation. Everyone did it, and nobody knew (or wanted to admit) that it was slowly killing them. The companies knew, but there was too much money at stake.

I think social media addiction and general internet addiction is destroying the mental health of millions of people around the developed world and nobody is doing much about it. Just as we look back now and go "oh my god they used to smoke in restaurants!" our children may say "holy crap look at this picture of my parents on the phone while they walk!". It's all-consuming.

I've been developing since 2000 in some form or other and have gone from a true believer who thought the internet would save the world, to someone who thinks it's had an immeasurably negative impact on any number of levels.

That said, comparing it to smoking is not broad enough. It's more like social media (and by extension the internet) is more like the 'new water' - a fundamental aspect of living whether we like it or not at this point. For instance, even if you don't partake in social media, the top political figures of the day are, and thus your life is being directly affected one way or the other.

Sounds like every opinion you held both before and after 2000 are extremes. Some nuance might be healthy!

Well, I've reached 'resignation' if not nuance in any case. Or maybe that is a nuance.

Though I do like the culture of taking photos instead of experiencing the moment, I do not think social media is the new smoking. People like to be distracted and absorbed. Social media is just an option. There are a dozen other alternatives. It has a different effect on different people. Some get really into it but there are others who just don't care. Fear mongering is easy when it sounds believable. I refuse to accept the equivalence until there's some unbiased research backing these claims.

Reminds me of an article from 5 years ago, "The Cigarette of This Century", comparing cigarettes and smartphones. Although that one is looking more at their social roles than their health effects.


This is an incredibly interesting and apt comparison.

My mother who's trying albeit mostly failing to wean herself from smoking has become addicted to social media to the point where she becomes actively hostile when her internet is out.

She is literally addicted to Facebook in the exact same way as cigarettes. She needs her fix.

I think for people who become easily addicted to things, it's a very easy thing to become addicted to.

The stigma against smoking has a considerable class element to it nowadays. If a technology comes along that allows more affluent people to avoid looking at the phone then this could happen. On the other hand, smart watches offered that functionality among other things and don't seem to have changed much of anything, socially speaking.

I had exactly the idea of OP's title but never bothered to write an article around it. 100% agree.

I quit smoking over a decade ago, but only because I had a S60 phone with an IRC client lol

No. It's not the new smoking. There's an uncomfortable process involved with acculturating to social media and it will continue to evolve, but there is far more upside when used well which is hard to say with smoking.

Oh, the irony. After all, this platform is a form of social media.

And before you say "it's different", HN is just a different flavor of clickbait from FB, more in tune with what happens tickles your feels.

I'll tell you what the new smoking is. Driving around in a gas car. Hey Ford, cough cough, I'm trying to breathe here.

There is no possible way to reverse the damage to the lungs caused by active or passive smoke(ing)

The comparison is not a strong one

I would say the international increase in obesity and all of the health problems it creates is the new smoking TBH.

Addictions aren't necessarily bad. Some need drugs to help get by. Others junk food. TV shows. Validation. I indulge in a number of things when I just want my brain to turn off. I let my desires run on autopilot and give myself what I need.

Sometimes, these can reveal important things about our personalities. One of my addictions is particular kinds of information. Complex and novel ideas, long-form essays, "insight porn." The type of things I gravitate towards reading tells a lot about me and what I find interesting in this world. I'd like to make some kind of dent in the universe in these spaces I find interesting before I die. Sure it might suck when I end up reading too much at the expense of something else, but what can I say, that's what I enjoy.

For those whose lives revolve around social media like Facebook or Instagram, their attention might be largely allocated towards validation, a sense of belonging, identity. Things that are not necessarily new to a post-Facebook world. In an alternative universe, maybe they're doing some other kind of social climbing or image-crafting. I'd never hold that against somebody if that's what they're wired towards. I say, own it and use it as an asset in your life.

An addiction is a habit, and a habit is merely a stable pattern of human behavior. All of our non-novel behaviors are habits. The things our mind gravitates towards are habits. I think it crosses into a "negative addiction" once a habit starts to become detrimental to something we want out of our lives. That's when we should be concerned.

We are flawed, suboptimal creatures. It's ok to give into our addictions, good and bad. We should incorporate addictions as constraints in our models of living, working, interacting. We'll always have them. In my experience, trying to get rid of certain habits hurt me because they served a function to my well-being or personality.

You need to understand your own addictions. If a sense of belonging is important to your personality, you will feel a void in your life without it. There's a reason why poor men in third world countries might partake in cockfighting culture with other men rather than spend it on food.

That being said, I don't think the negatives of social media are all that bad. I would argue that grade school is way more toxic than social media. Social media usually makes a convenient target for those in the "good old days before technology," "humans need authentic human connection" camp.

I am willing to extend a platform+API metaphor and grant that social media (the platform) allows us to build an external layer of ourselves (the API) that becomes the means with which others interact with us while while we hide our internals, but you'll have to convince me that that's mostly a bad thing. I don't think appealing to an "authentic human connection" value works. Sounds like a win for technology if you ask me!

Here's the thing. Social media is still a choice. Contrast this to the toxic and unnatural environment that is high school, which is forced upon us.

Social media feeds our insecurities? Well, high school created them in the first place.

Technology almost always affords you the freedom to engage or disengage. Take online dating for example. In the "good old days," men would have to impress and court a whole family just to date one person -- you're essentially dating a whole family. Now you can just find someone online within minutes, and start connecting with the one person you actually want to. Is some dude harassing you online? You're free to block him with the click of a button or just turn off the app. Sure there are tradeoffs, but the key here is choice.

Think freedom to respond to a text whenever you want vs being "on-call" all the time.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if you are hanging out with people who are constantly on their phones, then the truth is, they are making a personal choice to disengage from that situation, and they value more whatever's going on in the "real internet world" rather than the "tiny bubble" that is the room you guys are sitting in. Maybe the latest meme or what's happening in North Korea is more interesting. The actual problem is a mismatch between you and your company. Technology simply affords them choices in dealing with social expectations they might not actually want.

Facebook is not the end game, and technology can do better. But I think pointing fingers at social media for ruining us all is a bit silly.

Social Media: Promotes cancerous growth. And it smells bad to boot.

Toxic and popular with no benefit?

No benefit and no net benefit are two different things. Even still, it's relative.

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