Nir Eyal released his book Intractable: Control your Attention, Choose Your Life!In August 2019, the world appeared to be relatively stable. Mid- to late summer saw the economy roaring (the GDP rose by 2.1%), unemployment rates had fallen to 3.5 percent and major wars weren’t raging across the globe.
Eyal was an author and speaker. He has also taught courses at universities and worked as a consultant for major corporations like Google and Microsoft. Eyal was a vocal critic of the way apps such as Instagram and Facebook use methods that were not dissimilar to how a Las Vegas casino slot machine operates. He wanted us to keep scrolling, clicking, liking and sharing. Tristan Harris (another expert) uses the same analogy for the slot machine.
Eyal used an acronym to explain how users of social media tend to develop unhealthy habits and get obsessed. This he called “The Obsession.” Scroll infinitely. (I like the expression). Doom scroll.) Imagine a full-grown adult standing in the line at Starbucks flipping through countless photos of people celebrating birthdays and posing in front of beaches, and you’ll know exactly what it’s like. Even if the photos are of babies with cute hair and teens showing off new styles, our brains constantly seek these microrewards. Eyal talked about the way these apps can hook users. He suggested that we develop routines and habits to help us be more disciplined with our app use.
Everything changed when everything was reported to be COVID-19 in Wuhan, China, January 2020. Everyone was shocked when the first cases of COVID-19 were reported in Wuhan (China). Many of us, myself included, thought it was minor. It would eventually recede. It wouldn’t make an impact on the world.Our mistake. The result was a pandemic. The unemployment rate in America soared to more than 11 percent, which meant that approximately 23 million Americans were without work by August 2020. According to Bureau of Economic Analysis, the economy plunged by almost 40 percent.
You can easily see, it created new levels of stress. Eyal told me by phone that he noticed a quick spike in book sales during this time period, surprising everyone involved—especially his publisher.
“We all started searching for some form of escape,” he told me, explaining how the normal methods of managing our time, controlling our tech urges, and even scheduling our time tend to blow up during periods when our mental well-being is under attack from all angles. These times are difficult for us to maintain consistency, so we turn to social media as our last resort. “We all have internal triggers,” he says. “When we’re suffering and more anxious, we turn to social media to relieve the pain.”
This was something I observed in my own body. The United States saw a rise in coronavirus infections in Texas, California, Florida and the Midwest while I was writing my book. My youngest daughter Katherine was planning her wedding. I had to change roles and we were having problems with our home. . . Writing a book. There are quick solutions for stress, just like it happens every time. Just move your finger just a little bit across the screen to find quick relief. Eyal explained to me that distraction begins within us. It starts in our hearts when we seek quick relief. Sometimes we feel minor discomfort, and then click on Instagram.
Sometimes my thoughts were negative. I wasn’t alone. A study showed that six thousand people worldwide send out tweets each second. It is interesting to note that the tweets become less positive as they get older. Our ability to cope with stress and distractions increases as we get older.
Angela Duckworth, author and researcher has spoken out about the virus-like nature of negativity. This virus spreads faster than positive thoughts and infects many more people. We can’t seem to help it. We’re prone to be negative.
My story of constant social media use
Many of us had to move away from home when the pandemic began in spring 2020. Zoom Meetings are an ineffective substitute for real human contact and have become a waste of time.
If we feel disappointed, it is easy to find a way to satisfy our needs with technology. The void caused by unproductivity is filled with endless scrolling and clicking on social media and websites. What we call scrolling on Facebook The Facebook feed because that’s exactly what it does. It provides food for us.
Eyal explained this to me and it is covered in his book. IndistractableDistraction is another type of procrastination. While we know that we have work to complete, we get distracted and lose sight of the task at hand. When our work begins to fall, we feel more stressed. We rush to complete tasks faster, and this makes it easier for us find quick solutions. It continues. This is what Eyal says Learned helplessness. It’s a vicious circle of tech obsessiveness.
But what if the cycle was broken? To stop constant scrolling and limit the time we spend on social media, I suggest setting limits of seven minutes.
You can only use a productivity tip for as long as it takes. One way to get rid of notifications is to disable the notification on your phone. Another option is to delete some apps and do a fast social media post. They are all great things. They only last for a short time. Let’s say you turn notifications off for a month. Great! You haven’t really set parameters on how you use social media. You haven’t determined why you are using social media in the first place. The obsession was delayed.
Setting time limits for social media means that you can’t just check your tweets and follow the Kardashians, or read about political crises, but instead deal with distracting distractions head-on. Similar approach is used in my seven minute social media routine. It is important to set limits on how frequently you use social media apps like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and what you are able to achieve.
There’s no reason to completely abandon social media, since these apps help us connect with one another. You must understand the purpose and control your impulses to use them.
Measure Your Use
One reason we use social media so often is that we don’t know how to relax and take breaks. We get on Facebook. We get instant, brief-term satisfaction with bits and bytes when we refresh our screen to check if there are more likes. The social media companies know what we’re seeing has to be random, because then it’s elusive and unpredictable. We keep chasing our tails, but we don’t even know we have a tail.
You might not realize the extent of these dangers. One example is from World War II when Adolf Hitler used similar techniques of throttling information and propaganda to foster allegiance. John Mark Comer in his book notes that. Hurry is a waste of time, the Nazi propaganda machine centered on wants and fears—a double-edged sword. In order to keep interest alive, it was important to lure, entice and hold.
My son-in-law is Austrian, and he’s told me stories about people who lived during that era. Locals tried to help escapees from concentration camps by ignoring them. This is why? They believed the fear-mongering machine of need and fear. The only way for citizens to purchase groceries was to follow the want. All deviations from Nazi ideology were subject to immediate punishment or imprisonment. It was dangerous to aid and abet an escapee in a concentration camp. One time, I was in Mauthausen (Austria) and heard the sounds of abuse and torture echoing through the barred windows and stone walls. Hitler focused on want and fear because that’s what worked.
According to Jonathan Haidt, social psychologist Jonathan Haidt has seen a 150 percent increase in teen suicides over the past few years. According to Jonathan Haidt, social media plays a role in this. The reasons for the rise seem to reflect the Hitler propaganda machine.
The first is the need. The attention teens crave. They feel satiated when there are likes and comments on social media. It is also true for adults. Second, fear. Tristan Harris (human rights advocate) recorded a podcast called You deserve your undivided attentionHaidt explained that social media isn’t optional. Haidt explained that even though a teenager decides to delete his or her account, all other users still participate. You are an outcast if you don’t use social media apps such as Instagram or TikTok. Nielson Group says that we use our smartphones an average of ninety-six hours per day. Our phones are our lifeline, and we scroll to the bitter end.
What’s the answer to this dire situation? As with any obsession, it’s in controlling our behavior and setting limits.
Excerpts from my book The 7-Minute Productivity Solutions.