Developers of platforms such as Facebook have admitted that they were designed to be addictive. Should we be following the executives’ example and going cold turkey – and is it even possible for mere mortals?
I used to look at the heads of the social networks and get annoyed that they didn’t understand their own sites. Regular users encounter bugs, abuse or bad design decisions that the executives could never understand without using the sites themselves. How, I would wonder, could they build the best service possible if they didn’t use their networks like normal people? Now, I wonder something else: what do they know that we don’t?
Hern shares his efforts to remove himself:
That is certainly how I feel about Twitter. I have tried to cut back, after realising how much of my time was spent staring at a scrolling feed of aphorisms ranging from mildly amusing to vaguely traumatic. I deleted 133,000 tweets, in an effort to reduce the feeling that I couldn’t give up on something into which I had sunk so much time. I removed the apps from my phone and my computer, forcing any interaction through the web browser. I have taken repeated breaks. But I keep coming back.
He also highlights what we are up against:
It is one thing to be a child with a protective parent keeping technology away from you. It is quite another to live like a technology executive yourself, defeating the combined effort of thousands of the world’s smartest people to instil a craving to open their app every day. I am not alone in struggling.
Along with Mozilla’s podcast on overload, they provide a useful provocation to go further on the topic.