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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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aOSD9rTVuWc


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.




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