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My biggest issue with social media is less that it's distracting (IMO not necessarily an unhealthy thing) but that it has, for me, more than anything else seemed to make all aspects of my life a competition with others.

On Instagram, you're competing with others on who has the happiest life.

On LinkedIn, you're competing with others on who has the steepest career trajectory.

Even on Twitter, perhaps more acutely in certain jobs or industries, it seems like you're competing with other in gaining professional influence.

It creates a lot of anxiety that stems from a feeling like you're constantly on the verge of falling behind others.

Plenty of scholars/thinkers/philosophers have said something to the effect of focusing on just being a better version of you. Social media enables the exact opposite i.e. forcing you to constantly evaluate how you compare to others.


Maybe I’m in the minority, but I like social media and I’m capable of controlling my usage. I’ve developed some ground rules to ensure a good healthy experience.

To start, I have an iOS rule that prevents more than 7 minutes of each social media app per day. I pretty much only use Facebook. After the timer is up that’s it for the day.

I honestly enjoy seeing picture of my friends, their kids, their vacations, and the fun things they are doing. I don’t have FOMO and I’m not depressed seeing people doing something more fun than I am in that exact moment. In some cases I’m inspired to go somewhere or do something because I know my family or I would enjoy it. I rarely post myself, even if I’m doing something FOMO worthy (okay, maybe sometimes). I’ll share some photos from big occasions like birthdays or weddings since I think other people may want to see them, especially if they are in the photos.

I generally use social media when I’m waiting for a train, sitting in a doctors office, or going to the bathroom. I never itch for it during the day and rarely find myself reaching for the app robotically. One thing that’s definitely help to curb constant dopamine hits and addiction is disabling all social media notifications. I’m never pushed content, I only pull it. Actually, I’ve disabled almost every single notification on my phone with the exception of imessage, slack, citizen, and photos. My phone never buzzes from email, social media, or anything else that I find distracting.

One thing I’ve always wanted to do but never do is clean up my Facebook friend list so it’s only the people I care about. For what it’s worth Facebook seems to do a decent job of filtering it. But one day I’ll do it right.

I don't know if we're in the minority, but I'm completely with you. I use social media for about 15 minutes a day and it only improves my life. I'm happy when I see my friends being happy.

I think people who blame their life problems on social media have deeper underlying issues. Mark Zuckerberg didn't invent envy in 2004.

Well, I tend to see it like opioids, for example. Some people can just use their prescribed dosage and in the end they have no addiction whatsoever. Many more, even though they use their prescribed dosage, start an addiction which can lead to their lives getting ruined.

I think the same happens with social media. There are people who are more prone to addiction than others. People close to me have claimed to have felt much better after deleting/deactivating their social media accounts.

Personally it's been more than 10 years without Facebook, and I never had an Instagram, so there's not much I can say about the topic from my own experience.

> Many more, even though they use their prescribed dosage, start an addiction which can lead to their lives getting ruined.

I don't know if it's true that many more people prescribed opioids become addicted than not, and spreading such information harms people who do need them.

You're absolutely right, it seems I've made a typo inadvertently. It's true that less people become addicted than not.

That's still a number of days a year dedicated entirely to social media. Sure, it could be worse, but it's still (in my opinion) a significant amount of time over a year, or over your life.

The thing is I feel like maybe you get more out of those 15 minutes than me, or others who feel like it's too much time. Those telling people not to use social media are probably the ones that don't have good experiences with social media. To each their own, I suppose. It's important to remember different people are going to have different experiences and that is going to paint your feelings about it. As much as it seems that social media does have a general negative impact on people, I'm sure there are people for who it is fine. Should we chastise everyone to stop? Probably not, just let others know it could be affecting them and how to stop, etc.

It reminds me of people who get anxious on marijuana and then always go anti-drug on other people because they think "this stuff is terrible, no one should do this" yet for a lot of other people they had great experiences, and so the reverse is true "this stuff is great, everyone should try this". They're sort of both wrong there.

Either way personally, I don't get much out of social media and so I don't use it. If you feel like you're getting something out of it worth those few days a year spent on it, go for it, although just be mindful that it's something that feels good, but might not actually be good itself.

> That's still a number of days a year dedicated entirely to social media.

That's not necessarily a bad thing though is it? I speak to my parents on the phone 1-2x per week for ~30 minutes at a time. That's 1-2 days a year just on the phone.

I do sometimes get FOMO - I think it's just natural, but I try and look at it as an opportunity to improve myself and practice being mindful.

Essentially I have two options if I feel a bit envious:

1) Feel envy and get depressed because I start thinking I have a worse life.

2) Share in their joy - send a like, write a positive comment or sometimes just do nothing except focus on being excited for them . By sharing in their joy, I get to experience a bit of their happiness for myself. If I write them a comment, even if it's just 'Congrats!', then there's a chance I might even make them a little happier too - which in itself makes me happier.

This did not come naturally to me at first. I've worked on cultivating this attitude for many years. It's one of the best investments I've ever made in myself.

I don't know if we're in the minority, but I agree. Facebook has just become the defacto shared calendar for me and my friends, so I spend less than a few minutes on it on average a day.

Just checked and I spent 7 minutes on it on Sunday, nothing since, and the most I've used it in a day in the last three weeks is 5 minutes, at least on my phone.

Similar for Twitter but with a peak at 40 minutes a couple weeks ago (how?!). And Reddit I probably use about twice as much, which is still not bad, I don't think. Is it "social media", really?

That's really all I've got, if we're excluding group chats. Those, I use probably an unhealthy amount.

I don’t think Reddit fits the criteria of “social media” as most users don’t know the people they interact with in real life. I think of it more as a news aggregator as it’s easy to get current events linked from different sources in a single UI.

I routinely bounce back and forth between Reddit & CNN to get updates.

Envy has been around for a long time, but there is plenty of evidence that modern social media is essentially Ph.D's doing everything they can to make an addicting experience to drive ad revenue.

It's designed from the ground up to be addicting and attention getting -- envy is just one of the buttons they press to trip that addiction.

I'm trying to get myself to read Facebook and Instagram once in a while.

I (edit: think I) should because it seems like a good way to stay updated.

For some reason Facebook never clicked with me.

I waste some time on the rest of the Internet though.

> To start, I have an iOS rule that prevents more than 7 minutes of each social media app per day. I pretty much only use Facebook. After the timer is up that’s it for the day.

I'm glad you enjoy the experience and are able to control it, but isn't it telling that you have to put a timer on it to prevent it from being a negative experience? It's like a drug you have to heavily regulate so you don't OD.

Not OP but I also have a timer for certain social media apps, including Facebook.

For me, the timer is just there to remind me X minutes have passed. Losing track of time while doing something, anything feels natural to me. It happens in real life when I stumble upon a friend on the street and we start chatting and it happens in social media when I scroll too much.

If I'm reading something and my time is up, I just extend that and able to close the app afterward.

> To start, I have an iOS rule that prevents more than 7 minutes of each social media app per day.

But when you open the app at minute 8, there's a prominent "Ignore Limit" button right there. Are you relying on mere self control? Or do you have some way to actually prevent app usage?

Sometimes all you need in order to gain that self control is to have your nose rubbed in it.

Much as we hate them, this is one way that detailed timesheets help. The very fact that you're writing down what you were doing for each half-hour or whatever is enough to keep you focused because even if there are no further repercussions, you really don't want to write "hacker news 3.5 hours".

Speaking of which... closes tab

Most of my usage is in a single session or two short sessions. Once I hit the limit I close the app and I usually don’t come back for the day. I have pretty good self control , but more importantly I want to use my time on other things. If I’m killing time I’d much rather read hacker news, work through my 800 article Pocket backlog, listen to an audio book, or flip through some pictures / memories of my kids.

The limit was a choice I made up front to be a reminder not to waste too much time and to stop and do something else. But honestly, I try not to put too much thought into it. If I’m really enjoying what I’m doing in that moment I’ll give myself an extension for a few minutes. But it’s rare I do that more than once.

I don’t think about it as an addiction that I’m trying to break or a habit I’m trying to avoid. I’ve made the conscious that social media is something I enjoy but don’t want to spend too much time on. So I put an arbitrary limit that reminds me to stop and do something else. My general mindset about most things is that doing it to excess isn’t good. Is wasting your day on social media that much worse than binging Netflix all day? Sure, if social media is causing anxiety, depression, or [enter any other issue here] then it’s something that should be managed. But if you are using it responsibly, not in excess, and are healthy about it, it seems fine to use from time to time with it without arbitrary limits.

> I pretty much only use Facebook. After the timer is up that’s it for the day.

Any reasonable definition of social media would include any site whose main content is user-contributed, and allows users to comment and vote on content and comments. For example: reddit, youtube, imgur, .....HN.

You may be consuming a lot more social media than you thought.

Not all social media is equal in its mental effects

I'm not at all convinced that HN is better than Facebook.

But we're the smart ones engaged in intellectually stimulating conversation, while everyone else is just a vain, endorphin-addled monkey in a Skinner box sharing cat memes, links and mundane trivialities. /s

I'm with you too. I check Instagram a few times a day, but I only have my real friends on there. People I hang out with in real life, whom I legitimately care about. Not that many, so doesn't take long, and I enjoy knowing what they're up to. On Facebook I'm friends with a ton of acquaintances past and present, but I almost never actually look at the feed. I'll look up someone's profile if I run into them maybe, or if I'm expecting to see them. And it's handy for planning events. But I've never really understood how people become addicted to looking through the feeds of people they don't even like. That said, I've also met people who smoke a cigarette every couple months, and never feel the desire to smoke more; maybe we're that, but for social media.

> One thing I’ve always wanted to do but never do is clean up my Facebook friend list so it’s only the people I care about. For what it’s worth Facebook seems to do a decent job of filtering it. But one day I’ll do it right.

This is what made the biggest difference for me. Last year, I deleted both my Facebook and Instagram accounts for about 4 months. I found that I didn't miss my Facebook at all. My Instagram had been a decent way of staying in touch with a group of friends and family. I ended up creating an Instagram account again, but now that I was starting from scratch again, I was pretty mindful of who I followed. At this point I have about 40 people I follow, all of whom are people I know quite well and aren't particularly prolific posters. This is in comparison to the 200 or so I had amassed through college and beyond. I find that I don't even use Instagram for an average of 5 minutes per day, as thats about as long as it takes to actually see everything new since the day before.

Its much more of a tool for informally keeping up with a handful of people I wouldn't otherwise than the time-sucking, attention-hijacking bloat of weak and non-existent relationships that it had become. And it basically makes other social media like Facebook and Twitter unnecessary.

Deleting all social media is great, but for many people, it may be just as effective to simply do a Marie Kondo-esque purge of the social media junk you've accumulated over time.

If you don't mind me asking, is there a reason why it's 7 minutes and not, say, 5 or 10?

I actually tried both. 10 felt too long and approaching the territory of wasting more time than I wanted. 5 felt like it wasn’t long enough. I guess 7 was just right for me.

why 5 or 10 rather than 7, hm?

Fair point. I think humans having (usually) 5 fingers on each hand makes it familiar to us.

What about -∞?

Yup. I do not see it as a competition. On Instagram I share my photos (landscapes usually) and look at other photos. Could not care less about Instagram stories.

On Linkedin I just keep my profile and ocassionaly get inquires. My last few jobs were all result of someone reaching me on the Linkedin.

On Facebook I just filter out anyone who posts stuff what I deem not interesting.

And Twitter… I just do not get it. Looks like continuous noise.

> On Facebook I just filter out anyone who posts stuff what I deem not interesting.

I did this. Now I don't follow anyone. This was not done consicously it just happened. Turns out, most stuff on FB is stupid nonsense. I just have weird ads and FB auto notifications like celebrate your 2 years of knowing this person whom you just unfollowed.

nice setup. personally i've moved to a two device solution in two physical different places, where the "serious" device has /etc/hosts black holing of addictive domains + social media; were i able to consume it in a healthy manner on a mobile device, the iOS rule would be great.

That's the number one reason I root my phone. Not to block ads, just to block Reddit.

This kind of answer is what's problematic with social media.

Don't get me wrong, I understand you, I too don't feel the competition when using them, I disabled almost every single notification (I constantly keep my phone on DND), but I aknwoledge that they are bad for a number of reasons, among the others:

- they put the "normality" bar too high

- they are too fast to follow

- they promote content consumption over slow ingestion

- they promote throw away content over curated lists of what we like

- they promote the "sugar rush" of immediate reward over rational, slow and often tiring discussions

- they tend to cause depression

- finally, they favour dividing, inflammatory content because their metric is engagement

If you admit you're force-limiting yourself from using them, you know they are problematic per se.

I used to smoke cigarettes when I was waiting for the bus or the train or someone late.

Now I don't anymore.

I don't smoke during the day, I don't smoke home, I don't make cigarette breaks, I never hitch for them during the day, but I smoke when I'm out with my girlfriend doing aperitivo, because we're both social smokers.

I'm limiting myself, it wasn't even hard, I don't have to use an app to not smoke, but cigarettes are bad anyway, zero is the right amount of them.

The same goes for social networks: you can resist them, you can be a responsible user, you can force yourself to not fall into their dark patterns (or you're naturally good at avoiding time) but zero is the right amount of time to spend on them.

We must understand that until social networks will be private held and under little or no control from public institutions, they can't be considered good.

They are to be considered as adversaries of our wellness at the best, if not enemies or even villains.

Take for example IKEA, their shops are beautiful but I don't think it's good to go there, from time to time, maybe with your kids, just to see what's new.

I think it's good to go if you __have to go__ and really need something.

Recently I was indefinitely suspended from Twitter.

The reason is laughable, I had a "fight" with a well known Italian far right supporter, but I forgot they have a network of very active trolls, I made a mistake, I felt into a trap and they signaled me en mass and deleted all their messages and now I'm out.

What's so funny about it?

Firs of all I was using Twitter mainly to keep in touch with the updates of the programming communities I follow, mainly Elixir/Erlang.

Secondly, I never felt better! I'm out from the daily background noise of complaints and after just a couple of weeks their networks have been finally identified and Facebook/Instagram banned them all (https://www.thelocal.it/20190910/facebook-shuts-down-italian...).

On the bright side, when Dorsey released to interviews saying that "you don't simply ban nazis from your platform because it's hard to identify them" Twitter’s share price fell as much as 4 percent.

You might think this is all avoidable, but if I follow a programmer who's also an activist (doesn't matter which part they support) I'm almost certainly forced to see the content they post/like/share.

So to defend myself I must take action, actions that after a while become a job, it is tiring, it forces you to make decisions that you usually don't have to take when dealing with people in person or on different communication platforms, HN as well, even though it's not my favourite, the interaction is certainly better than on any social media out there.

When was the last time you looked at the open sky?

Well lets see some responses. I saw it like 5mins ago. Europe is having some beautiful days right now.

I feel like Hackernews is more distracting to be honest, it's like crack, I just cannot stop looking through all these interesting posts.

In between the SV hivemind posts is distributed just enough nuggets of mindblowing technical, business and even medical wisdom (from insanely switched-on people) that it keeps me checking. It's the ultimate infovore loot box.

Well said, finding compelling info on here is such a dopamine rush. Receiving a dopamine rush from learning something interesting is probably a good thing though.

Here's something interesting I'd like to share (if you don't already know of it): https://news.ycombinator.com/over?points=70

For the past ~2 years I've only been looking at HN through this link. This limits the amount of listings I can see, while at the same time ensuring "higher quality" dopamine rushes. It's worked out for me quite well with giving me what I want to see, while wasting less time sifting through uninteresting stuff. Pretty much like reddit's top vs. hot functionality, just changing my defaults.

There's also https://news.ycombinator.com/best as an alternative for a similar purpose. I learned about those two and other undocumented features from https://github.com/minimaxir/hacker-news-undocumented

You could also subscribe to HN on feed reader with such limitations, https://edavis.github.io/hnrss/ and http://hnapp.com/ are two that I have used in the past. e.g. https://hnrss.org/newest?comments=100 and http://hnapp.com/rss?q=comments%3E100 creates a feed limited by number of comments.

In the end I decided RSS wasn't ideal way to follow HN though, and for quite some time I have been using https://hckrnews.com/ almost exclusively to skim through top 10 posts for each day. Or top 20 or top 50%, if you have more free time. Plus I like the table layout, with comments/points in their respective columns.

I got a dopamine rush reading this!

You are all a bunch of junkies... scoot over.

What has helped me a bit is the https://hackernewsletter.com/ - I can be sure to get the good nuggets, just a couple days later.

Haha, you mention this, but I found it helps me find posts that slipped by my addiction. A blessing in disguise.

I would like to try that - but it looks like the last issue was in January?

The noprocrast setting is really helpful, personally. I wish every site had this.

I didn't even know this existed, thanks! Hopefully this will curb things a bit

What does that setting do? There is no tooltip.

Looks like turning it on enables the maxvisit and minaway categories. Maxvisit is how many minutes you can browse before getting shutoff. Minaway is how long before you can browse again.

Question: how many of the articles do you read in their entirety? Do you spend 1 or 5 or 20 minutes thinking about the content? I’d like a comparison between, say, a library where you can find a nice book and sit-and-read for a good 2 hours.

I think HN is more of a news aggregator with comments than social media platform. But it has the same problem as anything compared with “crack” and that’s a quick information fix.

I like a lot of the stuff on here too but I often book mark things and don’t necessarily go back to it. Some things yes but mostly no.

> Question: how many of the articles do you read in their entirety? Do you spend 1 or 5 or 20 minutes thinking about the content? I’d like a comparison between, say, a library where you can find a nice book and sit-and-read for a good 2 hours.

I don't read anything on Medium. I brush it off as marketing bs. Github pages though I do read. I read documentations of software frameworks on HN that I find intersting. Sometimes source code too (if I can understand it).

>I like a lot of the stuff on here too but I often book mark things and don’t necessarily go back to it. Some things yes but mostly no.

I use Firefox for this, but their bookmarking system is awful.

I only read the comments 99% of the time. This is usually because there are more interesting insights in the comments than in the post itself, and usually at least one person finds a mistake that renders the entire post nullified in its teachings. This may be a methodological error in a research article, a financial error in a business article, and so on.

In the off chance that commentors say it's good enough to read, I skim it, and very rarely, I will read it in depth.

Probably about 50% of those I read are done in full, the rest skimmed. Usually not much reflection happens after reading most articles unless they seem rather poignant.

I recently started bookmarking things and reading them in full later, but honestly what gives me the biggest kick are the comments. I also really dig the ask and show sections.

Try reading books on mobile. Once you get used to it, you just cannot stop. I read 5 books in 2 months - on container shipping, nikola tesla's biography stuff like that - none very useful to me but the point is I read them.

I want to get into this. How do you read your books? I have a TON of PDFs but reading PDFs on an iPhone is really frustrating because of the way the Books app displays them. I have to constantly zoom in and out and pan around.

Would you recommend a good resource for container shipping?

HN is a form of social media, though: users submit content, comment on content and each other, and can upvote content and comments.

I disagree on the basis that a hacker news account has no intrinsic ties with a personal identity.

It also has no notion of relationships between users.

The main upside though is not feeling the urge to compete with other people which makes it different from the likes of Facebook/Instagram.

I suspect most people using those other social media sites don't feel such an urge. If anything, some people use it as their primary means of socializing, communicating and consuming media, which is unhealthy, but they do so because the medium is convenient, not because it drives them in some relentless pursuit of "likes."

It still creates the internet karma points thing, visible in the top corner.

And there is "but there are people WRONG on the internet!" effect, which means demonstrating domain knowledge and winning arguments drive their interest -- something that seems strikingly more common with knowledge workers (e.g. lawyers, programmers, professors), than, say, construction workers. People wanna feel smart, esp. in their areas of proficiency and dominance.

I'm sure someone will post the relevant XKCD any minute now...

It is all shit. Everywhere you go it will be shit, just a different flavor. That is what I have taken away from life.

Social media is simply white-washing shit experiences and pretending they are gold. Life is not always positive, otherwise you are fooling yourself.

I am not cynical. I am just a realist. We need to drop this total farce of a behavior and stop conning each other if we hope to rise above it.

Life is hard. Social media pretends like life is not hard, mind-fucking everyone. Social media is garbage.

"The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it."

   -- George Bernard Shaw

> I am not cynical. I am just a realist.

I agree with your broad premise about social media frequently being a poor representation of day to day life. The it's all shit part probably implies you're at least somewhat cynical. It's clearly not all shit, plenty of it certainly is. People frequently live different quality of lives vs their peers in fact; some people live amazing lives, some people live horrible lives. In a developed country, by far the largest distribution is likely to be a mixture of good and blah, with some occasional amazing and some bad thrown in.

> We need to drop this total farce of a behavior and stop conning each other if we hope to rise above it.

That behavior has always existed, it will always exist, so long as humanity does. Nothing can change it short of altering humanity through technology (and then we're something else), forced evolution (which we have begun, first pitch of the first inning; but it will probably take hundreds of years before we very substantially alter what we are; and we may make these things even worse, sharper). It's hard wired signaling and competition built into human nature, all the way down to the most fundamental aspects of what we are, including the pursuit of reproduction. Social media is nothing more than an aggressive, in your face, projected expression of it. It's the expression of many of the driving forces of human nature, amped up: sex, lust, attraction, status, materialism, greed, competition, envy, jealousy, pride, fear, validation, anger, inspiration, with some awww kittens & puppies thrown in. And that's also why people are drawn to it so intensely, it's a drug rush.

You missed an important checkmark on realism: 'we' can't rise above these things, humanity is these things. That's the actual reality. And it isn't going away, people will be complaining about all of this stuff in exactly the same way 20 or 30 years from now, except this will all seem tame compared to what will occur in the future: it will get worse yet.

I'm sure you probably know why Coca-Cola is called Coca-Cola. If you don't - cocaine. It was one of the key ingredients in coke's initial product. A less well known example is Vin Mariani. A French wine that was made with a mixture of 6 milligrams of cocaine per ounce of wine endorsed by numerous historical figures including Thomas Edison and Ulysses S. Grant. Edison claimed it helped him stay awake. Oh indeed Mr. Edison.

The reason this is relevant is because the dates for these things start in the mid 1800s. Vin Mariani was made in the 1860s, Coca-Cola was inspired by Vin Mariani and came a decade or two later. Suffice to say the coke craze spread pretty quickly. And it's not like this was coke-lite or anything like that. It was genuine cocaine, same as we have today. And you had similar mental and physical consequences atop raging addiction.

It wouldn't be banned until 1914 and even that was due more to racism than concern for its effects. The New York Times ran a story in 1914 decrying "negro cocaine fiends" [1] which is what finally started the push to it getting banned. The only reason it took so long is because people were addicted and tried to ignore or set aside the negative consequences of it all, or even deny they existed. And that was pretty easy to do - Edison and Grant don't exactly rank near the top of your list of famous druggies. Nonetheless, the consequences were real and widespread.

The point here is that if you go back to the times before 1914, it'd be easy to imagine a future full of an ever larger chunk of the population degenerating under the influence of an ever increasing number of cocaine driven products. And in fact it would have seemed odd to predict anything else. Because when you're predicting the future you never predict 90 degree turns, because they sound absurd. Yet it's paradoxical because one of the few things you can guarantee about the future is that there will be countless more of these 90 degree turns.

[1 raw text] - http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/History/Negro_cocaine_fi...

[1 New York Times paywalled version] - https://www.nytimes.com/1914/02/08/archives/negro-cocaine-fi...

Fantastic, thoughtful post. I knew nothing of Vin Mariani!

Yeah and before that damn social media it was the cell phone, and the god danged TV, and that freakin radio accelerated the downfall of society, but it's really the telegram that ruined everything I tell you!

What absurd and ridiculous claims. Go speak to someone who has receieved life-saving healthcare in the developing world because of social media. Talk to someone who found their spouse through social media. Talk to someone who left their home country to travel across the world for a better life and only in the last 5 years have they been able to easily reconnect with their loved ones back home.

What an utterly, comically backwards take on the matter. It simply takes 5 seconds of not assuming you are the center of the universe to realize that that social media has provided value to the world.

Social Media also got Trump elected, someone who has radically changed the most powerful and rich country in the world for the worse and potentially started a trend towards a breakdown of Western Liberalism and an increasing fragility in idea of a democracy being the best option for future growth and prosperity. Social Media is responsible for the rise in nationalism and the crisis in the UK over immigration and Brexit and the associated violence and racist attacks and abuse.

Social Media is responsible for the massive viral spread of people believing in conspiracy theories, antivaxxers, flat-earthers, anti climate-changers, etc. so social media is responsible (indirectly) for people dying due to not being vaccinated.

Social Media is responsible for the escalation in political rhetoric and the gradual ratcheting of tensions in America and the development of the "alt right" and also indirectly responsible for the increase in mass shootings in America due to the propaganda and "fake news" spread on Facebook and Twitter.

Well said. It's a completely new way of allowing the garbage of society to get together and become a disgusting mass with way more power than they should have. Comparing it to the satanic panic is, I think, being incredibly disingenuous.

What the fuck? How many people have died because electricity was "invented"? (hint: death from anything that uses, or was produced by electricity, outpaces all other deaths, period)

Or cars? Modern computing, yes the one you're criticizing technology on right now, exists in large part because of IBM, who quite literally brought cutting-edge technology to mass genocide during the Holocaust.

But social media is the villain here? What an absurd take.

One would argue the subject is more specific. Not "Social Media", but specific companies that decided to play fast and loose with dangers that have been known for decades.

Surely propaganda existed long before Social Media.

> Go speak to someone who has receieved life-saving healthcare in the developing world because of social media.

Sounds like an unfair situation to me: the one with the most likes on Facebook gets the best healthcare?

> Talk to someone who left their home country to travel across the world for a better life and only in the last 5 years have they been able to easily reconnect with their loved ones back home.

As in: just look at their holiday pictures but never really talk?

You have a toxic mindset. Change that.


There's one of a million case studies.

I consider social media a place where you learn about other people. In the example you linked to, social media (in this case Facebook) is used more in a way to gather information. That is fine, but that was already possible in the days before we had social media, e g. through forums. While I applaud the particular use case, I don't consider this a strong argument in favor of social media.

It sounds like you've gerrymandered the definition of "social media" to exclude most of its positive qualities, leaving only the negative impacts, to be honest.

And there are hundreds of case studies like the one I linked to, and sure, it was "possible" in the days of internet forums the same way it was "possible" to send text messages in 1995.

Found the Facebook employee

Great contribution.

Am I wrong?

That seems like a very cynical interpretation.

You're buying into the stereotypical myth that social media is always like this, a glamourised facade. My social media feed is anything but positive. People are very real about their problems.

Just the other day I read an article that being open about your issues is the new hotness on social media. I would even say it's the other way around now. People fake problems in order to get followers.

Did you miss the huge, huge parts of social media where people connect over their problems?

foxie, you're not competing with anyone https://apps.apple.com/us/app/foxie/id1369279200

> On Instagram, you're competing with others on who has the happiest life.

No, I'm laughing at memes and seeing pictures of friends that I can't be with.

> On LinkedIn, you're competing with others on who has the steepest career trajectory.

No, I'm keeping in touch with colleagues and advertising my skills.

If you're using those services as you describe, you should stop now.

I think the extreme opposite equally applies on social media, people who would moderate themselves in real life seem to let it all out on social media. So instead of pretending to be something they are not, they reveal their truest opinions and thoughts.

For example extreme political and religious opinions. I've seen long term real life friendships broken because someone said something extreme about Brexit on facebook. I have a very religious friend who berates me constantly on facebook for being an ex-Catholic, she tells me I need to save myself etc - but she would never say that to me in real life.

Social media is so good at making people say stupid things.

Curiously I don't feel that way. There's very little competition involved in the way I use social media.

On Instagram, I rarely if ever look at other people's stories or posts other than a few close friends whose happiness can make me feel happy. But I do post my own and receive psychological validation when other people react positively to them.

LinkedIn isn't even a social media for me. It's a place to dump facts about my career. I don't read the feed.

My Facebook feed is just various memes trying to be funny. I look at them and laugh occasionally.

There's just no competition aspect for me on social media.

I disagree, but that's just me and my opinion. It probably comes down to personality type. For me Facebook/Instagram is simply a form of communication, where am just seeing pictures of family and friends. Again am ruthless about pruning my contacts ( will hide all the narcissistic ones). LinkedIn - only active when am looking for a job, I'll post from time to time.

The way to compensate for this is to realize the perception bias you're applying to yourself.

If you have 52 friends on Facebook, and each of them takes a vacation for one week out of the year, then every week you see someone broadcasting how they're having a more awesome time than you.

That doesn't mean they're doing any better than you. You just don't see the 52 reactions for the one week that you've got the vacation 'advantage' over them. You only notice the comparison when you're on the worse side of it.

I feel happy for my friends when they take a nice vacation. But the vast majority of them are mediocre photographers at best. No matter how awesome the location is, it's hard to feel jealous when the pictures are all blurry and backlit.

I realise this isn't the point of your post, but it's exceedingly unlikely that they all take vacations on different weeks... like 4.73 * 10^-22 unlikely if vacation choice was random, which it isn't.

I love HN!

Blind is one of the worst. Useful for information, but super toxic for comparison. The problem with social media is not that it's 100% useless, it's that it's hard to walk the line. In the example of Blind, it is good to be informed, but it's bad to compare.

>Blind is one of the worst. Useful for information, but super toxic for comparison

Blind seems more like 4chan parading around as linkedin, and I haven't found much substance there at all. It seems like a bunch of recent college grads trying to one up each other even while being anonymous. Just a lot of thinly veiled humblebrags pretending to be questions like "I got an offer for $350k at google, but I like my current position making $320k at Apple. Should I take it?", along with extremely simple questions that would be better answered by google like "what does company xyz do?". I've only poked around for about an hour, so if anyone has suggestions for a better experience I'm all ears. My initial exposure did not leave a good taste in my mouth.

You can at least get "honest" opinions of things as well as some of the best salary negotiation / salary info available. $350k at google isn't a newgrad salary but it is a typical L4-L5 compensation: https://www.levels.fyi/

Haven’t we always done this though?

It seems like it’s more that social media has made the playing field 10^9 instead of 10^3.

It's more insidious than that though. The most damaging aspect of it is that these anxieties are evoked 24/7 thanks to social media companies trying their best to get their userbase addicted to their product to maximize user engagement.

Back in the day, you might have felt those social pressures, but only in limited settings and ultimately you could control the situation by removing yourself from anxiety invoking situations. There was ample room for getting a mental break from these situations.

But social media completely destroys any respite anyone could possibly have. They exploit the FOMO feeling as best they can to essentially guilt their users to constantly "engage" on their platform, which leaves the end user pretty helpless in being able to seek respite from these negative social pressures. I'm only 35 and I haven't used social media in any meaningful way for 5+ years and it has been the best decision ever. I don't really miss out on much and I definitely am much happier than when I had to wade through all the crap people post on social media just to keep up appearances in the social media rat race.

That’s my take. The bigger downside IMO is that the most successful people, i.e. experts, at something exist in the 10^9 social group, rather than the 10^3, and likely multiple experts exist in the 10^9 space.

A strange side effect is that the digital world also amplifies the outliers and makes the others in the large group of people seem non existent, leaving you to feel like you are majorly behind, when the reality is you are likely closer than most.

Yep. The problem with social media is that it exploits and amplifies existing human tendencies, not that it creates new ones.

Bill Maher had a good "New Rule" on this very phenomenon a few weeks ago: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGp-omDD3V0

pre social media was 10^3?

I was thinking more "10 to 20". I suppose from person to person and at different stages of life the filter of who is appropriate for your playing field might change. . but even 10^2 seems high. I can barely name 20 critically important people in my life let alone those which are on my playing field. I have managed this, a bit unconsciously. Generally when my field is managed in line with my conscious values I'd only regard a person who I know and respect professionally. Further filtering on whether I actually feel like I personally (not just professionally) know the person.

curious what a different playing field mechanism might be described as

As sibling comment hints, you have multiple concepts mixed together.

The monkeysphere is "how many people you can comprehend as people with their own full lives", and is on the order of 150-300.

"Critically important" in your life is a far higher bar, so 10 to 20 makes sense.

"Playing field" is a far lower bar where only the relevant metric matters, which widens the range to a far larger number of people.

For most people it's supposedly something like 10^2.5 or ~300 people in your monkey sphere of varying levels of importance. So, in an exponential sort of way its decent rounding :P

Isn’t this call keeping up with the Jones’s? If the neighbor has a new car then you want one too. This is just the cyberspace equivalent.

We used to wake up, read the paper, see all the terrible things in the world and say “oh well, at least my life is better than those poor slobs.” But now it’s the opposite. Social media tells you everyone is having more fun, with more toys and more friends than you. They’re always in Saint Kitts having Mai Tais at sunset while you’re in Canoga Park selling your plasma at dusk. Yolo!

Before Instagram, you could be a loser but not feel it because the winners weren’t always in your face. Even the most mundane post of avocado toast in a hipster coffee shop sends the message “I’m having fun and you’re not.”

Used to be you'd read the paper and all the shitty things going on in the world and then... you'd stop reading the paper. And talk and deal with people making an ordinary day of it.

Not it's in your face 24/7.

I am sure this is true for some, but certainly not all. In a way, I am quite anxious about what I share because it’s all so... permanent... and personal. I miss a more anonymous web where impermanence _felt_ real, even if it wasn’t.

On the other hand, I do see people who are otherwise very closed using it to express themselves and grow. It’s easy to say “yes, but at what cost? That’s not ‘growth’ to me” but who am I to judge?

Some people smoke or drink to deal with their anxiety. Some people binge TV shows to avoid their problems and worries. There’s a lot of poison to be had in our world. There’s a lot of holier-than-thou attitudes about what vices are “ok”. It’s a lot of shallow moralizing in the end, IMO.

I just have a script delete everything except my latest N tweets/posts/whatever.

I think there is an opportunity for a new perspective here...a positive one. Once you realize that all you're seeing is a highlight real on these social platforms and move past that I think there is a great opportunity to be a good friend, family, community member. Let others you follow know you are happy for them and the things they felt were important enough to capture and share with you and their audience via their profiles/accounts. Click like and leave supportive comments and turn social media into a positive! I have found the more I celebrate with others and interact in positive ways that it is reciprocated and strengths relationships.

> Even on Twitter, perhaps more acutely in certain jobs or industries, it seems like you're competing with other in gaining professional influence.

Interestingly, as someone who uses Twitter for a purely anonymous psychological outlet, I do not feel this at all. Instead, I find it a place of earnest concern and solidarity—when not plagued by trolls.

Yes and even if you might have made the mental leap to overcome the need to compete, you might still have some sense of desire you need to have this and that as well. Like a benchmark metric.

I've quit Facebook and I can only confirm: nothing magical happens. At least I feel a bit better and feel less social pressure to accord to certain standards/do certain things.

For a long time I thought LinkedIn is super essential and it would be complete non-sense to quit it. But I'm barely in contact with people I connected with there. Especially I rarely connect with recruiters because this would just be too much noise - of course I write them though. But now I start wondering, there are dedicated career websites and it's anyhow much better to apply for jobs one actually likes - instead of just saying yes or no to what recruiters think is the best idea.

> On Instagram, you're competing with others on who has the happiest life.

I think we can all agree, that happy people of Instagram are very very sad. Else they will be busy being happy not hunting likes.

>Even on Twitter, perhaps more acutely in certain jobs or industries, it seems like you're competing with other in gaining professional influence.

Unless its some useful info like a new research paper or some official announcement, I would reject everything on Twitter as some ill-thought opinion.

> It creates a lot of anxiety that stems from a feeling like you're constantly on the verge of falling behind others.

Try teamblind. Worst of the worst. On a serious note, a bit of competition is not really a bad thing. So you can simply choose how anxious to feel about it.

Upvote mad on this. This is exactly what I have been saying to all of my friends who quitted social media. One of aspects was also the narrow view social media creates for bipolarizing spectrum of one's opinions using extremistic news and probably fakes news.

To be fair, I think you can get the “competition” phenomenon anywhere. I always read people’s blogs about programming and internships and feel like no matter how much I do, I’ll always be behind. So it’s possible that it’s not a social media-only thing.

Something's wrong with this era. Super subtly wrong.

Has it been the case that so many ~innovations things become quickly a problem, that you need another thing to use it safely, and when you happen to stop well, you don't miss it.

I see no problem with informal competition on social media. The really skilled underwater photographers get way more likes on Facebook than my lame pictures do. So from that perspective I'm losing. But I've learned and improved my technique a lot from following those experts.

I quit social media two years ago, and while I think I am generally happier and less anxious, I am also left out. When everyone else has seen someone's new baby pictures or a picture from the summit of a mountain. Sadly, I am growing apart from my friends faster.

> When everyone else has seen someone's new baby pictures or a picture from the summit of a mountain

Did you just say you like seeing pictures of other people's babies ?

When its people I genuinely know and have a relationship with, yes. Its pretty fascinating to see the evolution of the lives and families of my friends and acquaintances.

It is fun to see pictures of babies that I know! Now that our baby sleeps 8+ hours a night (6 months old) I also laugh to myself that I am glad we are past those sleepless nights!

In real life you also compete with people on just about anything - that's what gossip is about and it's what these services captured.

The most problematic thing imho is that all of these online "competitions" are relatively easily hackable.

>> In real life you also compete with people on just about anything - that's what gossip is about and it's what these services captured.

You cannot compare the scale at which real life interactions work to that of social media interactions.

You have to be in a place where you're grounded, secure, so you can self-regulate where social media becomes a tool you aren't or won't become dependant on, addicted to.

“Rule your mind or it will rule you.” - Horace

> forcing you to constantly evaluate how you compare to others.

Doesn't that start with schooling very early in life though. What does that specifically do with social media. Maybe schools are different in America.

I see that as a positive thing though. Most of the career tricks I've learned has been from social media. I dislike everything else (anger, protests, distractions), but this is the one thing I'd like to keep.

Do you feel the competitive nature is self-imposed? Do you care if the Jane Doe is living the dream on her Instagram?

I think it's you, and I don't mean that in a snarky way. Of course I'm happy if I make a post (here or on Twitter) that gets a the occasional huge response with lots of engagement, but mostly because it's brought attention to whatever issue it was that I cared about. I have a relatively small number of Twitter followers but I don't really care. The only thing that annoys me is that Twitter's algorithm does a bad job both at supplying posts from the people I most want to follow and at getting my posts to the people who want to follow me for whatever reason; when a post of mine blows up, it seems to be due to the number of people looking at the topic rather than because I can consistently expect it to reach most of my followers.

Thing is I'm just not a very competitive person, or a very social one. I have a small clique of quite close friendships and a larger pool of people I know and like but relate to in a pretty casual manner. Maybe my lack of competitive instinct is inherent, or maybe it has to do with having been 'extremely online' for ~30 years and just not caring as much. I'm far more preoccupied with understanding the dynamics of social media interactions than I with exploiting them (in conventional ways).

tl;dr I think people relate to social media in quite different ways depending on personality type.

Its easy for me to control my social media usage because I am unpopular.

It’s an anxious quest for difference in environments where it is banished.

And on HN you are competing for the top comment.

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