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Limiting Social Media Decreases Loneliness and Depression (guilfordjournals.com)
327 points by T-A 31 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 142 comments



I've been off social media for years now, entirely, and I'm back to a point where the rest of my friends and just society itself are so fully entrenched into some sort of social media that I'm getting very lonely and depressed. I've actually thought about making a Facebook or Instagram account again and just placing strict rules on it, but even that really creeps me out.

My friends are always telling me about cool events on Facebook, their Instagram stories at the really fun and cool places they work non-profit, all of these cool groups. I feel super detached from even my best friends, and feel like I don't get a full friend experience. While our relationships are strong and have been for years, they're kinda dull because they use social media so much. They understand why I don't use it and don't give me a hard time (anymore), but always bother me to come back.


I'm kind of in the same boat. I assumed that I would be able to participate in normal friendships without social media (the way people did for generations before me). Instead, I think people just assume I'm ignoring them on facebook because I'm anti-social.

I've learned to be more proactive in maintaining relationships, but it often feels very one-sided since many other people are used to just getting passive status updates and feeling 'connected' to their friends.


I’ve had people genuinely get angry at me because I’d just been ignoring all IM’s for a few days.

They were worried about whether I was still alive, but the concept of calling to confirm was apparently foreign.

I kind of want to stop using social media, but I guess everyone will think I hate them or something.


It's an interesting bit, this. When you open an avenue of communication, then others get re-prioritized accordingly.

Having text options lowers the perceived need for calling in person. Having Facebook lowers the need for in person contact, since people gets some crumbs of info about you off your Facebook feed. And so on.

What can one do, alone? Can you reverse a trend that's affecting all your friends and acquaintances? Not likely. Maybe just for a few close friends, but everyone else.. meh.


I wouldn't really classify instant messaging as social media, even though all social media platforms have messengers attached nowadays.

Also, if your friends are making an effort to keep in contact with you, why are you faulting them for choosing X medium instead of Y?


I should be allowed not to use medium X?

Why am I forced to have and check (daily, at least) IM?


Turn notifications on, don't check it until you get notifications?


Notifications have this huge downside that they disturb you from your work and from your leisure time, fragmenting attention to the point of being useless to yourself.

This has long been decried by people like Cal Newport and others. Knowledge workers need their attention span intact, and yet all the modern tools make interruptions more likely.

I've been in a Messenger group of only 5 people, who were trying to synchronize going to the movies. My phone kept bleeping for 5 damn hours, until they figured what to do. Absolutely disgusting.


I turned notifications off exactly because I got a few hundred of them per day.


You get hundreds of messages from friends?


I know that they work hard to make it addictive, but isolating yourself because of a fear of a lack of self-discipline is not a solution IMO. Use it to your advantage and have the strength to withstand its negative aspects.

Ignoring the newsfeed can be enough if you're susceptible to comparison with others (which is one of the big reasons that social media is bad for people). There are browser extensions to hide it [1].

I use events, groups and the birthday reminder. Facebook definitely has a lot of features that are very useful e.g. I can see which events happen in my surroundings and which friends attend them. Without this, I wouldn't hear about these events (except when those friends explicitly invite their friends). Instead of denial, use technology to your advantage and minimize its bad effects on your mental health.

[1]: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/news-feed-eradicat...

edit: I know that many people in tech despise social media and there are a ton of studies that show its negative effects. But OP talks about negative effects of not using social media. A moderate usage can be better for him/her than simply refusing to use it. Please explain your arguments instead of simply downvoting so I know the reasons behind the reactions.


Hiding the newsfeed is the key. Keep events and messenger. Use Firefox fb container and a vpn to limit what fb knows about you.


Can I ask how old you are? I wonder how this affects different age generations.

I'm 37, left social media a few years back when my son was born - the thinking being that the time I spent on there would be better spent with him and my wife! I don't feel excluded by my friendship groups or like I'm missing out on anything.


I'm 27, single, no family/brothers/sisters.


Yeah, huge difference here, at least for me. When I was 27 I cared a lot more about friendships, now that I'm 35 I just want to spend time with my family and only care to get together with my friends a couple times a year.


I wouldn't say I've gone that far to other end of the spectrum and still make time for seeing friends on a weekly basis - I guess I'm just more comfortable in myself than I was when I was younger therefore FOMO is not a thing I care about any more. The well-being of my family and the home we live in, is :-)

Also, not actually having the time to see friends as much as I used to makes a big difference!


Do you program for a living or have a job that requires lots of human interaction? I find coder jobs amplify the unbalancing nature of loneliness. On the other hand , loneliness is just a symptom of the human not knowing how to be alone and remain content. If only we were born with the user manual around our neck


I have a tech job that requires a lot of non face-to-face human interaction through slack, with people I never build relationships with. Still super lonely :D

Dating is also near impossible because I don't want to use social media.


Get a coffee job on the weekends or go volunteer , really fun way to make friends . The coffee job requires zero brain work so it’s not mentally exhausting when you sit down Monday’s to not move and just code all day. Might take some guts to get into social zone but after breaking through its way worth it . Easier to just think about impermanence of your life each 10 minutes, you will die in a couple decades and rot into the earth like every other human, then the small issues become meaningless when faced with death reminder .


1. Stop working remotely. If you’re in an office, talk face to face more. 2. Theres “anti-social media” and there’s “maybe I’ll just use social media minimally so I can use dating apps and not die alone.”


While I think one can learn to be alone...we are social creatures and it's literally woven into our DNA. So, while I do think few humans can get by without fulfilling social relationships...I think that loneliness is a very serious condition that can cause all sorts of harm.


Try some real world events. Particularly outdoors, keeping your body busy ones. Maybe daytrips to canoe or kayak, or just hike. Maybe also indoor events, crafts or even computing, radio, maybe some maker things.

You'll run into other people who are keeping social media in its place. Something I've found this year, via a friend who works at the local community college.

I don't mean to sound prescriptive nor like I have "the answer". Just to comment, that circumstances brought me into the orbits of such people, a bit, and I'm enjoying it.

The interactions are much more satisfying and "complete", whether it's a standing friendship or just a chance conversation.

P.S. I have an LL Bean store in my area, and while I was in there buying some trousers, the friendly and helpful clerk told me that the store arranges outings. Itself, or in affiliation with a local group -- I'm not sure. Anyway, they said to check out the Bean website for their location, for details on what was coming up. IIRC.

So, community college, local retailer (I'm thinking also of a paddlesports business up in Madison, WI), non-profit groups. There may be more avenues to finding good groups and outings, than one would expect.

Just go as yourself and with no particular expectations, other than to learn and to participate/contribute in the group's having a good time.

And be prepared to listen. Most everyone has an interesting story, if you're paying attention.

Best wishes!

P.P.S. And if you have a state or national park in the area, check their calendar. Or local public parks and organizations.


Isn’t HN social media the same way Reddit is?


Strange because throughout this thread a lot of users seem to consider HN/Reddit social media. I don't personally think of these as social media whatsoever. They are content/news aggregators imo.

Social media to me is a site that is mostly not anonymous, and is connected to your real life identity where you are mostly sharing content about your personal life.


This is the most accurate description of how I felt dropping out of social media, although to a much less strict degree. I don't spend almost any time looking at other people's lives but I still wonder. That's fine, I let the mystery linger and I think it's been an overall positive. Close friends and regular occuring events, I still attend. The ones that have to schedule, I need someone to contact me directly or vice versa so I lose out on some events. On balance I think I gained more than I lost.


Isn’t HN social media the same way Reddit is?


About half way through my college education I decided I would only use Facebook for messages and otherwise eliminated all social media from my life aside from Reddit and Hacker news. Since then I found my outlook on life has improved dramatically and recommend most people do that.

The problem with social media is you only see the interesting parts of people's lives, so you're forced into a loop of thinking your life is pointless and boring, while for the most part everyone's life is pretty boring aside from some brief moments


HN and Reddit arent that different from other social media sites.

All of them in my mind are "All You Can Eat" info buffet tables.

This is just the current approach we have of dealing with a new world overloaded by info. It will change as we learn more and more about how it effects people.

In the real world nobody healthy visits an "All You Can Eat" buffet everyday. Same thing will eventually happen with information.


I think it's a bit different, on HN and Reddit it's much less about sharing ones life (there are subreddits for this, but in general, no). It's more about sharing interesting discussion and insight around content.

More than that, it's semi-anonymous, meaning it's not so much the relationship between people it's the relationship between content (or topics). This is a dramatic difference because it's harder to get into the loop of seeing other people happy.

Finally, there aren't push notifications for HN. I actually wrote a chrome extension to enable following discussions and push notifications.. I didn't really think it was appropriate to release because it would lead to more engagement, which is kind of a bad thing (e.g. lead to flame wars).

Anyway, they may not be "that different", except in a few key aspects.


I have been reading Marshall Rosenberg's Non-Violent Communication and according to that book - seeing people happy or seeing peoples interesting thoughts or seeing their appearance etc etc can all lead to comparative/judgemental thinking which leads to all kinds of unintended side effects. He references Dan Greenberg's book How To Make Yourself Miserable.

Yet to be seen if sites can somehow employ mechanics to reduce comparative/judgemental thinking...but its something they all intentionally/unintentionally fuel currently imho.


These are well observed and key differences between social networks.

The power of these small changes is disproportionately strong too. On HN, your username is very subtly rendered, and that possibly hella people focus on the content, rather than the individual who posted it.

On Reddit by contrast the username sticks out, can have flair added etc.

The result is imo more personality based repartee.


Reddit and HN provide what I call “false novelty”. It’s a torrent of new information and entertaining images, but none of it really provides any sort of lasting impact beyond the first 5 minutes or so.

When you do new things in the real world, these become major events that anchor your memories and sense of time. You can probably vividly remember some vacations, concerts, your first kiss, and a thousand other novel life experiences very vividly. But while Reddit feels novel in the moment, in the rear view mirror it is just a featureless void of “Reddit was here”, with no strong memories left to justify the time spent.


But don't you find you learn things, get introduced to new concepts and so on?

I definitely think that HN has improved me as a software developer, if only to show me how much unknown stuff there is out there.

Reddit is a bit more questionable but I've definitely found useful things in some sub-reddits.

And sometimes all I want is something that will easily wile away a few minutes.


This is more for reddit than hacker news (although i would say hacker news is the same to a lesser degree). More and more I've been feeling that all that exposure does is make one feel like one is learning a lot but in reality its just a wide shallow understanding not really useful for anything. It's good to gain exposure but its easy to fall into the trap of mistaking exposure for thinking real hard and working to understand something deeply, at least that is how i feel.


My metric is “how actionable is this information?”

The answer is quite often “not very”.


Sometimes.

First, I am far from being above using HN and Reddit, as evidenced by me typing this. So, this is not a “you should stop using X” rant, because I can’t stop using it either.

I think as a means of getting professional news, HN and Lobste.rs are basically unparalleled. These have been an unambiguous success for me

As a means for being informed in general it seems to work, but I’m dubious about the utility of being “informed” about things in which I have no stake or power to change things. Recent example is discussions about Swedish cashlessness. I don’t live in Sweden, nor will I travel there soon. So what utility does taking up some of my precious attention with this un-actionable information have? I genuinely don’t know, but I fear that the opportunity cost of such reading might be catching me in some subtle way.

As a means of entertainment, my original comment stands.


> HN and Reddit arent that different from other social media sites.

I guess it depends on what you are measuring them by. I'd argue they are quite different and did something similar to the previous commenter.

To me, FB and Instagram make you feel lonely because you see people you actually know interacting and doing things which may make you feel like you're being left out or have a worse life somehow.

With HN and Reddit, you get news or some form of entertainment but that's more similar to Netflix or YouTube than to FB for me personally. I don't mind being entertained; it doesn't make me lonely. In fact I actually go on YouTube or Netflix precisely when I want to be alone.


Agreed that HN and Reddit are basically just replacements for Facebook. Former becoming more and more like the latter.

I disagree it’s “information”. The article is usually wrapped in opinion, and you’re in the opinion section now.

Maybe the appeal is that when the opinion is from some you know (a “friend”) you feel obligated to acknowledge it and on an anonymous forum you can more easily ignore it?

Reddit vs Facebook I think is just social media preference.

IDK... I’ve found myself skipping articles and jumping right to the opinion section in order to “save time”. Bad habit, but I just don’t have time to read everything.


>> obligated to acknowledge opinion

lol thats a nice way of putting it. It's an interesting point about why we are all so attracted to opinion. It doesn't require much mental energy or something I suppose.

Plus in an info overloaded world where even the experts have doubts about a lot of things it allows us to butt into debates where we would never be allowed to enter in the real world.


The bulk of the problem is the linear-thinking brain. If we could devise a way for the brain to think exponentially (something computers are good at) - then we have a suitable way to deal with information overload. My only gripe with augmented brain capacity is that it could spiral away from us, and then lose touch with our original linear thought patterns. Something we have to eventually come to terms with.


We don’t think linearly (we’re extremely parallel) and computers don’t think exponentially (just quickly, ironically enough that’s because it was easier to run ten times faster than on ten things at once).


To get more pedantic technically doing things in parallel is easy - coordinating them is a pain with overhead - especially if you want them to keep their speed. I know back decades ago even cars went with plenty of microcontrollers to do what technically could be controlled by one since it was easier and better to be independent apparently - and auto companies are all about shaving nickels of expenses for profits.


Unless you have a lot of self control, cutting down on reddit may make you a lot happier too.


My policy is to decrease on push notifications as far as possible. WhatsApp and Telegram still have the privilege but that's it. I feel like by seeking out information rather than it coming to me, I at least am making a conscious decision to waste time on social media.

Interestingly, implementing that had the effect of me now spending hardly any time on there at all. Funny how that works!


Yeah I've been doing much the same, I've given mastodon a pass for now for direct mentions only (which tootdon lets you configure) because those notifications are people's actual interactions with me - whereas with Twitter and Facebook it's generally any old crap that happens to one of my friends or follows, or sometimes even somebody else who some people I know have followed (who cares?!) so that gets turned right off. In fact I don't even have the Facebook app, I just look at it in my browser - sometimes it still manages to sneak a few notifications through Chrome even though I was sure I turned those off.

Mostly it's just very annoying when for some reason my phone doesn't manage to prioritise push messages which come from direct messages or SMS and so they somehow manage to get buried under a honking slew of social media detritus.


My websockets for my mastodon instance were broken due to a screwup in my nginx configuration, so for the first several weeks I ran it, I didn't even get browser notifications (mastodon's web UI is pretty good at falling back to polling).

It is quite different getting an alert popup now. I should probably go back to disabling them.


I’ve started leaving DND mode on 24/7. I go to my notifications, they don’t come to me anymore. This also prevents your iPhone from being DOS’d by a phone call at any moment.


I'm doing the same (on Android, and push notification is broken anyway on microG). Sometimes I get 'anonymous' phone calls. Those are annoying. But people who know me, know I prefer e-mail etc.


That's a great point. I went into the Android settings, pressed the toggle to disable all notifications, then went through and re-enabled the few necessary apps (text messenger, Spotify, etc).

It helped immensely.


Something I did in addition to removing push notifications was deleting the apps. When I want to look at a Reddit thread or a tweet, I have to use my mobile browser, and endure their painful UI. Some might consider this paranoid or masochistic, but I find that for me it prevents further exploration beyond the thread/tweet I was originally interested in.


This is how I cured my reddit-addiction. I also decided never to visit Facebook with my phone. Now I visit there once a day in the evening. These actions have increased my happiness significantly.


I’m really glad to see your comment. You control your phone, it doesn’t control you.


I've turned off all push notifications except calls and texts as well. It seems the internet has become way too much "push" and not enough "pull"


I've deleted all my social media accounts besides Reddit and HN. The only thing that's stopping me from visiting these two is addiction. I don't read the news, mostly, why bother? It does much more harm than good. You don't need 1000 hrs of newsreading to vote effectively.

My next step is to make a personal website with some contact details and a scraper script for the links in the HN top 30-40 that I can run as a cronjob.

While cutting social media is not a panacea, I have found a significant improvement in the amount of free time I have, and I don't compulsively think about what other people are doing.

It's a good exercise to assume that engagement in social media is work and multiply how many hours you've sunk into it by your usual hourly wage...


> I don't read the news, mostly, why bother? It does much more harm than good.

It's weird that this is a minority opinion (I happen to agree with you). Some 20 years ago we lacked the ability to consume even 10% of the news we are exposed to today if we just open Twitter, and democracy wasn't collapsing.

(some argue we are in a worse spot today, though I disagree - strife does not equal inequality)

The cable news cycle combined with social media with the majority of people thinking that their opinion is worth something has led to some interesting results. I expect the next generation of people in the United States to mostly get over this bug in the system via selective apathy.


I... think it's important to know what's up. It especially helps to give a reason to participate in the electoral process.

But soooooo much political reporting nowadays is basically gossip columns. They talk a lot of inside baseball and completely neglect the "the thing happening is actually bad!" aspect. Instead of debating policy, people want to debate the optics of policies.

Cable news is awful about this, but I think newspapers are even worse with their opinion pages. People getting paid 6-digit salaries to just say what their opinion on a thing is! And of course with basically no fact checking. They're just bloggers!

Meanwhile the journalists twist themselves into knots to give the benefit of the doubt to the most cynical leaders we've had in decades. Unless one of them insults journalism, in which case it's a holy war. But if the discussion is just a policy position, there's no issue.


If I hadn’t gotten mildly addicted to Twitter (with my fairly well curated list of people I’m following) I’d not have spent the ~700 bucks to start my naturalization process so that I will finally have the right to vote after 34 years living here as a permanent resident (well it’ll be 35 since naturalization takes a while).

I realized that my running joke of the last 18 years: “I can’t vote, but at least I don’t have to do jury duty” is recklessly irresponsible and I will do the research and be an informed voter in every election for the rest of my life.

[edit: admittedly this was largely inspired by indisputable things that happened a little more than 2 years ago and the following aftermath, but my twitter feed was my window to them - I do not watch cable news]


Yeah I think that Twitter has been a major gateway drug to remember that Politics Matter.

But after you've reached that point, Twitter becomes the place where you read the same take 20 times over. Then you get the push notification from whatever news app you have installed on your phone.

There's a huge amount of diminishing returns to following journalists on Twitter if you're already convinced that stuff is important. But it sure helped to establish the feeling that everything is on fire (and.... kind of always have been but right now's not great)


> with the majority of people thinking that their opinion is worth something has led to some interesting results

What do you mean?


Everybody is shouting at each other about how right they are and not listening to what others are saying to try to understand their point of view. The net result being giant echo chambers clashing against one another and the media using that for fun and profit.


> My next step is to make a personal website with some contact details and a scraper script for the links in the HN top 30-40 that I can run as a cronjob.

About a year ago I was 30 minutes into creating exactly such a script, and then I found https://hckrnews.com, which lists all the posts that reach the frontpage (or are top 10/20/50%).


I do quite like hckrnews, though there's still not enough of a disconnect for me. The comment section is too juicy. I'm probably going to symlink the output of the script as a source for $HOME/.newsboat/urls [1]

[1] https://newsboat.org/


I do the same. The only reason for me keeping Hacker News and Reddit is that I often find more up to date information and more information then say Stack Overflow (e.g. site:reddit.com/r/golang <search terms>). Otherwise, I would unsubscribe and put them in `/etc/hosts` file.

I also don't read the news (who's the president? Kidding...), at least in the typical sense. My colleagues seemed to really be shocked when I told them that, but when I inquired why they could not give me a good reason. I only remember them saying to discuss current events. I figured if it's big enough deal and important enough I would hear about from other sources.

I read Ars Technica, Hacker News, and I am subscribed to a few Subreddits (Games, AnimeDubs, Vita, Nintendo, GameDev and related, but that's it). I have a multireddit for Programming, Startups, and Netflix/Amazon Prime movies/shows for when I need to put the computer down.


Heya, I run https://hndigest.com - you can configure it to email you the top n posts over a certain period (daily up to weekly). Check it out, it might suit your needs.


Another strategy that works for me is rather than cutting news entirely, strictly stop going on sites that are sectionalist/ overly politically biased.


Have you tried hckrnews.com? You can filter by top 10, 20, 50% of articles.


When you open Social Media there is a reason for that. I figured - for me at least - it comes from an emotional impulse. By concentrating on that impulse, I discovered that it comes from “need” to socialize. Trying to fulfill that need by going on a social media platform is just convenient but does not really satisfy that need. So instead, I now call or meet with some family members/friends.

In the progress of growing up I kinda unlearned that. But know that I rediscovered it, I feel much better/balanced. Other benefits are that I can concentrate and perform at my studies/work much better than before.

I don’t know if that helps anybody but I thought I’d share this experience.


So let me explain it. I started being active on the internet after learning no one would be friends with me (I was in class 6 back then). I would spend time figuring out things, talking to people and then social media evolved. I am still pretty active on social media but the main reason people are active on social media is they don't have people around them that listen to them.


That what many miss about social networks (and long-distance communication overall, i.e. IRC, ICQ, etc) - it is not always about looking at other people fancy moments (which is probably some type of social networks promote today) but it is to have a connection with people, which otherwise you would not get locally.


This is probably true, but I don't know what else to do (counting HN as social media) - I don't really have any friends or interesting activities. Basically go to work, do work, go home, repeat. Anyone have any suggestions on how I could live a more interesting life and/or have friends?

Sorta pathetic to be posting this here but since every other comment is talking out eliminating social media use, maybe some comments on what to replace it with would be helpful.


A lot of the advice here is "find a hobby". But if it were that simple youd have one already.

My advice is to be bored. Get rid of all distractions (facebook, tv) and go to a quiet room or on a long walk. Be alone with your thoughts. Slowly forget about work and daily concerns. Where does your mind go when it has nothing else in the way?

Hopefully that gives you a clue where to look for hobbies you enjoy. But you also have to make the effort and try different things out. Start researching and go to events. Youre not gonna like all of it and thats ok. And its not always comfortable.

Definitely start up a conversation with the people you meet along the way. Friends are important. Theres more to it than i can fit in this post.

If that doesnt work, try thinking back to when you were a kid. What were you interested in before you put your life on hold for school and work?

I hope this helps yoi in some way. All i know is it worked for me. No reason to feel ashamed. Many people have this problem.


Find a hobby you enjoy and do that. Also, fix any obvious flaws, such as poor dress, being out of shape, persnonal hygiene, etc. lastly, practice small talk: when at a store, make a comment to the clerk, try to make them smile, etc

The goal is basically improve socialization skills (small talk), remove frictin to friendships (hygiene, fitness, fashion), and then put yourself in situations where you meet people (hobbies).

A local couchsuefing group can also be good, if you staet couchsurfing hosting.


If you're not already active, get a cheap gym membership and force yourself to go for a few hours a week. I'm not talking about the meat-head bodybuilding sort. You may enjoy it, you'll be healthier for it, and you may meet others there which share interests.


You can try solo traveling + staying in hostels. Highly recommmend.


Well, you can begin to develop a hobby and then attend meetups associated. Find a swing dance group on meetup.com that is beginner friendly. Find an outdoor hiking group. Look for community or religious centers (if you’re religious) on coffeeshop ad boards... Friends tend to occur from there, as you meet more people. You could also take classes, make small talk with classmates and eventually do study groups.


Take a job in another country; every day becomes an adventure as you navigate different cultures, different people, different customs, different cities, different bureaucracies, different governments, different foods, different activities, etc. Plus, you become a more well rounded individual. It also gives you valuable soft skills (cultural relations).

Many places offer working holiay visas.


I recommend a gym, specifically a class based one like a boot camp or CrossFit. These tend to have a similar cohort of people who show up at the same time every week, so you’ll get an hour of exercise and social time wrapped up into one package.

Friendship is created by repeated interaction. Anything that has you running into the same people repeatedly will typically create friendships.


My favorite long-term shared-post-and-comments site - far and away the most friendly and community-like - does not have downvotes. You can only 'favorite' a user comment. If your comment is not 'favorited' it is also not slapped with a downvote. (I find downvotes to be counterproductive and often arbitrary if not malicious. And one sows another.)

Moderators decide only what posts are productive. A dozen or so a day result. No topic is too 'far out' or rarified. The posts themselves may also be heavily-favorited, but almost always are at least lightly-favorited by a few readers.

There is very rarely any criticism or argument. The are not nested, they only appear in time-order. This keeps directed replies (and extended snark-fests) to a minimum.

The resulting 'civilized adultness' of the site is fairly unique on the Internet. Oh, and there's a small fee to join.


Metafilter? Pretty sure the reason there are no arguments is they purged everyone who doesn't follow the groupthink. And the fee helps with banned people not rejoining ofcourse.


So mefi is the same as HN but you even have to pay on top of it? ;P


I'm pretty sure that what I described is -not- the same as HN. New here?

The advantage of one, small, upfront payment is that it discourages sockpuppeting, and thus anonymous sniping. The only way to 'downvote' something is with another piece of text with a username on it ... a lot more revealing of motive than a reflexive button-click. Discouraging for sick puppies.

You know (or don't) ... like The Well was back in the day.


The abstract mentions limiting social media use to about 30 minutes a day. Why not eliminate it completely? I'd imagine the gains from maintaining relationships can be found elsewhere (e.g. phone calls or real life meetups).


For all its faults, Facebook is very useful for arranging events and makes it easy for people to RSVP and provide/ask for more information in the event posting itself. It also provides a low barrier of entry and low complexity way of creating groups for discussion and sharing between friends. This is extremely helpful for people who aren't super tech-savvy.

Yes, you can do this stuff elsewhere, manually keeping email and phone chains going, but FB does put all of this stuff in one place and makes it relatively easy to use.

That is not the problem with FB. The problem is all of the other junk they keep pushing, all the ads and games and gamification.


I agree with the conclusions. I got rid of all social media except for Reddit ( for ML related discussions) and Hacker News. I always calmer since. It amazing how fast my mind felt better from the negativity.


Hacker News and Reddit are the worst though.


Reddit can be, but HN is IMO the best social media site there is in the IT space, because of the clear guidelines, active moderation and well thought out mechanics which for example enables both flame-war suppression and anonymity, no small feat.


Two problems I see with HN: 1. It's the most addictive social media I know. 2. Due to the "downvote if you disagree" policy you get downvoted for simple opinions and that makes you really depressed when you happen to have opinions about stuff that's not in line with the general HN crowd.


You shouldn't take the internet so seriously. Don't let any rando hurt your self esteem. If someone says you're wrong try to find out if there is some truth in their argument. Best case you grow , worst case life remains the same.


I agree HN is very addictive, maybe the most of all social media. but why ?


Because it focuses on topics rather than facebook nonversations


IMO the guidelines, moderation and mechanics all work way better on lobste.rs than here. Here the hivemind effect is pretty damn strong too, so it's going to be frustrating to try have a fruitful discussion if your opinion doesn't align with the group. Here there are enough toxic people that discussions often turn into tiresome, flamey back-and-forth between a handful of people. And here there are too many people with opinions but no expertise. So the signal to noise ratio gets really bad and you can't assume the people reading your comments can understand subtler points; if you do, it's quite inevitable that a bunch of people with opinions but no expertise will pile up on the comment and it feels like flamebait.

When I post here, I kinda have to indulge in a ton of self-censorship. Most of the time I end up not posting the comment I wrote because it feels like it won't be a worthwhile discussion. Or it'll be just another comment buried among a few hundred others; just noise, not discussion. It's not satisfying.


>Here the hivemind effect is pretty damn strong too, so it's going to be frustrating to try have a fruitful discussion if your opinion doesn't align with the group.

Entirely correct.

For fun, sometime write “I’m aware of the issues in speculative modeling, misleading headlines, and also I don’t feel like a tax solution is the correct response to global climate changes” and see what happens!

Edit: and even posting an example phrase - proves my point. Thanks for the downvotes!


I agree with the first two prhases but the last one. How tf are people gonna fix climate changes without taxes? These thingas cost money! But I think you have a point. Juts nitpicking :P


It was an example to show despite putting effort into an air of enlightenment... HN is just as basement dwelling and knee jerk downvote-y as Reddit. And I think I proved it.


Why do you think it’s different there. Also, how do you go about getting an account over there?


It helps that the community is smaller and we've had the occasional meta thread discussing rules & phenomenons, with moderators and active posters alike present. We also have a somewhat tight knit community of active participants & mods on IRC. I think this makes the whole thing more human.

There are other factors, for example downvoting because you disagree isn't seen as a valid reason for downvotes on Lobsters. In fact, when you downvote, you must specify a reason (there's a list of choices). Of course people can abuse the system, but I think it sort of encourages people to go down the right path.

The invite system probably helps keep worst of the worst out.

Tags help people ignore the topics they find frustrating.

Speaking of tags, all stories must be tagged and if you can't find an appropriate tag, the story most likely doesn't belong.

We've been trying to focus on purely technical content (and by that I mean really technical and not non-technical stories that are somehow related to technology) with some art, while avoiding politics, inactionable news, opinion pieces and the like. To be fair, as the community has grown larger, it seems like we've been slipping more and more from this ideal and opinion pieces about "practices" (that's a tag) and "culture" (yeah...) have gotten annoyingly common. We can still filter out those tags.

As for getting an account... I think there's something written about that on the site.


Interesting, thanks for the info. I'll give it a more thorough look.


I'm surprised you are not getting downvoted (more) by mentioning the hivemind.

The first rule of the HN hivemind is that you don't mention it.


Its the worst with Rust


The downvotes I'm getting are proof enough.


For that to be true you have to have one hell of a selective group of people you follow on Facebook and Twitter. Hacker News is without question the best "social media" site I read and has mostly maintained its quality over the years I've been here.

Reddit, however, is godawful.


[flagged]


Downvoting is simple disagreement (by policy) not some attempt to quash discussion. I know folks guard their karma jealously, which leads to resentment about downvoting. Add to that the 'greyed out' feature on downvoted comments which does look like censorship. But as an automatic mechanism for self-moderation it works ok, not perfect. Just look at the stuff at the bottom of a long discussion to see the quashed stuff, and tell me it doesn't belong there.


...and a downvoted post hasn't just been downvoted by the small group who can downvote, it also hasn't been upvoted by the much larger group who can upvote.


>Downvoting is simple disagreement (by policy) not some attempt to quash discussion.

False. In fact, it quashes discussion by two methods: hiding the comment such that it must be specifically expanded, or literally graying out the comment so that it's harder to see. I do not care about my karma, but I very much care when a couple of people downvote for ideological reasons and don't offer any explanation. If this site is supposed to engender the hacker spirit, did nobody think for a second that it is directly opposed to that spirit to just say "I disagree, so nyeh"? To attempt to knowingly hide comments because you just disagree with them, thereby encouraging ideological conformity? There is only a small group of sites I know of which does not play to this script, and that's the imageboards which lack downvoting features (at worst a thread stays in place using 'sage') and upvoting features take the form of writing your own comment. You are forced to provide input if you feel like you disagree.


Except that downvotes do exactly that. A couple and you’re marked as downvoted by fading, a few more and your comment is collapsed.

“By policy” or not. It’s treated as a “make the bad man who said the mean things go away so he won’t fool or sway other people”. Just like Reddit.


Well, America has xtreme gun conrol laws, so the rest of the wolrd thinks you aree extreme, which elads to downvotes. BTW, mass shooting are EVERY WEEK IN THE USA. Swisterland has guns and yet they have feweer. Its the culture and lack of traiining.


> Have a pro-gun discussion on HackerNews and tell me how it’s so much better than Reddit.

You're not meeting resistance to reasonable opinions.

You're breaking out of your US filter bubble and discovering that the rest of the world thinks US gun ownership rights are fucking weird.


You just proved their point.


You just proved their point.


I don’t think that people disagreeing with you is a failure of social media. If you walk into a bar in an area where HN readers tend to live (San Fran, NYC, Seattle, Austin, Denver, Chicago) you would likely get a similar response.


It has nothing to do with disagreement. It’s that downvotes are used to silence people.

You can make an argument counter to someone else’s without mini-censorship, but that’s hard, you need knowledge and experience for that.

Whats easy is just to try and hide anyone else from seeing a counter argument at all.


Maybe people downvote because they think it violates the HN commenting rule below?

==Please don't use Hacker News primarily for political or ideological battle. This destroys intellectual curiosity, so we ban accounts that do it.==


reddit is worse. I say i liek guns, boom, dowvotes


I feel it greatly depends on what subreddits you follow. I find that limiting it to only a few (at a time) and those aren't toxic (socially, work related, or effect you emotionally) aren't bad and actually are about one of the only places to stay up to date and learn.


Luckily I never got into Instagram or Twitter, but I was big into both Reddit and Facebook for a long time.

I cut off Reddit completely after a run-in with yet another subreddit wannabe dictator mod. It just wasn't worth the drama, not to mention the crappy usability of the site, especially on mobile.

For Facebook, I can't cut it off completely, it is unfortunately indispensable for arranging events and interacting with my group of friends/acquaintances. I mostly interact in a couple of concert/festival-related groups, and run one of them myself. That said, I have cut off all games and apps, and I mute all the stupid meme pages that people like to share from. New ones do pop up once in a while, and obviously those get muted too. The result is that my Facebook experience is 90% chatting with like-minded people about music. I use a Chromium plugin to delete all of posts and likes that are more than ~6 months old, because nobody should care about old FB posts.

I also keep my FB account for Messenger, as it has become the de facto standard instant messaging service here in Denmark.

For discussion on other subjects, I'm a long-time member of an old-school forum that charges $10 for an account. That seems to weed out most of the low-content trolls and idiots, and aside from a few deliberately stupid subforums, the discussions are relatively intelligent and entertaining.


If this is the forum I suspect (goon?), I’m certainly pleasantly surprised it is no longer known as a source of trolls.


Yeah, the days of troll raids are long gone, thankfully.


Social media use Pavlovian conditioning to drive adoption. Even the notification icon is – a bell. I stopped using all of them and I suggest you do too. If needed to stay in touch, send your friends and family a voice message as an email attachment, they'll appreciate the sound of your voice more than generic emojis.


>a voice message as an email attachment

Dear god why


Normal speaking speed is 150 words per minute, which when recorded equals to a ~1MB M4A file. I typically send 7-minute audio recordings, meaning roughly 1,000 words or about 2 pages of A4 text.

Rather than getting slammed with a wall of text, the recipient of my audio message can listen to it as they're driving, cooking or eating breakfast. Human voice is expressive and the audio message conveys nuance that gets lost texting. Finally, all text messages are being monitored in some fashion but I do believe audio recordings are still relatively safe and private.


I joined Meetup.com, and now I have a growing number of friends every week.

It helps to have an interest that other people can join you in. You could start a tech group, a language group, a movie group. Find a place to have a discussion, a small conference, or give a presentation.

The fact is, social media isn't going to satisfy your craving with feeling connected. The digital world isn't a substitute for face-to-face conversation, so it's sad to see people resort to text-messaging the person in front of them. However, you CAN look for events for where to connect to people. That said, Meetup.com is a huge blessing.


Humans are social creatures, and we are more isolated than we've ever been even though we are better connected than we've ever been. I don't think social media is to blame, just as i don't think fast food is to blame for obscenity epidemic, but i do think that social media has certainly, consciously leveraged certain weakness of humans in modern society to create addictive substances which cause more harm than good for most people.


I think social media is fine as a way to connect, it just shouldn't be the only or even major way to connect. In particular I think News Feed is a horrible way to "connect" with anyone.

So I unfollowed every one of my friends on Facebook and keep a pristine blank news feed. If I want to know what someone's up to, I message them or visit their profile. It makes social media usage a lot more deliberate.


My life has come a full circle. Moved to the facebook messenger, WhatsApp, Snapchat for texting and now only prefer iMessage or text messages. The number of groups you added to in WhatsApp and the meaningless forwards make me open those apps even lesser.

On the social sharing front, I only use Snapchat to share what I am up to some close friends. Limited FB, Instagram to once a week casual check-in and never been happier.


Frankly, I only go on Facebook a few times a month to occasionally check in. I feel like logging in daily is not the point of the service.


It shouldn’t be the point, but Facebook wants it to be, because the more eyeballs looking at their site, the more money they get. In order to maximize eyeballs, they make their site as addictive as possible.


It's interesting that messaging and social media are conflated by some people and not others. It stands to reason that direct communication is helpful to the problem of loneliness, whereas "observing the sanitised version of other people's lives from the outside" is not.


Recently I did an experiment with myself where I didn't use FB for 30 days. After about 5 days I didn't miss it, but I was not happier. After the experiment, my usage rebounded, but significantly below prior levels (I post a lot less, so there's less feedback to get me to engage).


Social media is literally my only hobby and has kept me very happy and safe-feeling for years now. I love browsing and discovering random things. Interacting with people in person can be very taxing after a long day of work, aka, interacting with people.


Is it a concern that you don’t consider social media usage as “interacting with people”?

If you were browsing wikipedia I’d understand. But your in the comment section talking to me, believe it or not, a real person.


Who are you? In the absence of knowing literally anything about you it's challenging to "humanize" your comment. It's just another in a sea of anonymous comments written by arbitrary commentators.

Sure I can trawl through your post history to try to better understand through what lens you see the world, but I don't have the time to do that for every single comment that I read on HN/Reddit.


It's easier for me to interact with your statements via text than it is for me to engage with you emotionally, politically, physically etc like how workplaces inevitably are ://


I certainly don’t consider stranger random people on social media as “interacting with people” either, this include my respond to your comment.


I quit my Facebook account in April and have not looked back. I connect with people in Signal, Twitter, Slack and LinkedIn. Quitting Facebook felt like uninstalling a program which was eating up a lot of ram in my life.


Facebook was so much better before it started hosting news sites, and Twitter...it’s just a toilet.

I think the best thing a parent can do for their children now is limit exposure to these sites, and emphasize real-life engagement.


How do we define social media, though? I think Facebook is more damaging than all of them just by their use of attention grabbing techniques and total lack of privacy options.


try Diaspora (social network)


Sartre was right


can you add some context?


One of Sartre's most (in)famous quotations is usually translated as "Hell is other people".

In context, he was apparently getting at something closer to: Hell is the inevitability of seeing yourself through the eyes of others, as an object rather than a subject.


() => "Sartre was right";


“Hell is other people” evidently applies to social media.




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