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OUR Social Dilemma

When social media was first introduced – it was just another way for us to connect. It offered a simple, accessible way for us to check in with friends, stay up to date on life happenings, and even reconnect with people we otherwise wouldn’t keep in touch with. It was exciting and new and brought people together.

As more and more users joined the outlets like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. it quickly morphed into a sort of social norm. If you weren’t a member of at least one of these outlets, it could come across as strange and unusual without an explanation. 

Nowadays, there is essentially an app for all of your day-to-day responsibilities. Transferring money, managing your credit cards, tracking your workouts, even dating…all of it at our fingertips. Mindless scrolling takes up a chunk of our day, likely a larger one than we’d care to admit. As a result of this addiction that so many of us are silently struggling with, our phones are now the #1 thing marketing to us on each and every one of these apps. Marketing experts would say any business would be foolish not to have some level of an online presence, if only for the sake of showing people you are alive and well and in business. 

In both of our businesses, at the real estate office and the coffeehouse, social media is a regular topic of conversation. Is the posting calendar updated? How many likes did we get on the latest post? What can we post that would stop people in their scrolling to see our page? We, in so many ways, are attempting to keep users on our pages for as long as possible to, eventually, get more business. What’s so wrong with that?

If you haven’t watched yet, The Social Dilemma is a documentary recently released on Netflix that has been a popular topic of discussion on, well, social media. The film takes a deep dive into the algorithms behind the most popular social media outlets, with interviews from former employees of Facebook, Google, Twitter, and more.

I would highly recommend you take the time to watch this film, as it was eye-opening for almost everyone on our team. It dissects some shocking statistics surrounding the effect social media has on our mental health, politics, and biases. Here are just a few from the website…

“A 5000 person study found that higher social media use correlated with self-reported declines in mental and physical health and life satisfaction.”

(American Journal of Epidemiology

“The # of countries with political disinformation campaigns on social media doubled in the past 2 years.”

(New York Times)

64% of the people who joined extremist groups on Facebook did so because the algorithms steered them there.”

(Internal Facebook Report)

These stats are just the tip of the iceberg. The film explores just how much we are being “steered” to view certain content based on our preferences, beliefs, and internet usage. I write this blog not to discourage you, but to encourage you to take control of what you consume! 

Being among businesses that work heavily in/with social media, here are some tips from our team on how to stay sharp and aware despite this somewhat necessary evil. 

Set Limits + Be Intentional.

We set limits for our children on certain apps, why don’t we do that for ourselves? Decide how long you have to realistically spend on these outlets on a daily basis, and update your settings. Obviously, you will have the power to surpass those time limits fairly easily, but you’ll find that the “Time Limit Reached” pop up can snap you back into the reality of how long you’ve actually been scrolling that day. 

You’ve probably heard the tip to just delete social media apps from your phone. While this is a sure fire way to “get rid of” the problem, if you have social media accounts for your business, you either don’t have that luxury, or the problem might lie more so on your laptop or desktop vs. your phone. We recently discovered a plugin* that replaces your Facebook news feed with 1 inspirational quote/day. That way, if you have to log on for something specific, you avoid the temptation of starting to scroll through your feed. You might not realize how much time goes towards this each day. This also gives you the control to check in on people you want to, using the search tool, vs. being bombarded with updates from people you barely know. 

*This plugin is specifically for Google Chrome, but there are alternatives for other browsers as well.

Be in the habit of unfollowing or “muting” accounts or people that are notoriously negative on social media. If you are feeling bogged down and discouraged every time you get off Facebook or Instagram, pinpoint where those feelings are beginning and get rid of the source. The unfollow and mute features allow you to remain friends, but take a break from seeing their posts in your feed. They are not notified and you are able to re-follow/unmute without notifying them as well.

On the flip side of that, be purposeful about following people and accounts that are encouraging! Accounts that post things like outdoor photography, inspirational quotes, or recipes are good options to keep it light in a time when so much of our time online can feel heavy.

I hope this blog has opened your eyes to how social media can be a negative thing, but we have the power to turn it around.  

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  1. JP O'Grady Canary Gold 4:56