Today, I deactivated all of my social media notifications.
No more popups notifying me someone followed me, left a comment, or liked my post.
I stopped everything. Cold-turkey.
Now, you might be wondering what made me take such drastic measures, especially since I actively use all of these platforms to publish and distribute my content.
After all, isn’t it important for me to know how my content is performing? Shouldn’t I care whether people are engaging with it?
Well, while social media can be a powerful tool for communication and marketing, it can also be an absolute deathtrap for our goals and dreams.
Today Was The Last Straw
To help you better understand my decision, I’d like to share with you a little story about my morning:
As you may know, I’m currently on a 12-week content creation challenge. For the next 12 weeks, my goal is to create and publish 5 pieces of content per day, 6 days per week:
1. One essay (for my blog and for Medium)
2. One YouTube Video
3. One Instagram Post
4. One Instagram Story
5. One Twitter Post broken up into multiple tweets.
With my content creation challenge in full swing, my days are very tightly scheduled. Writing is difficult and draining, video recording and editing has a huge learning curve, and everything ends up taking about twice as long to make as I originally thought it would. Basically, I need every minute I can get in a day in order to create and publish content at this pace.
To manage my time, I follow a set schedule each day to ensure that everything gets done on time.
Since all of my content creation starts with writing, that is the task I schedule first in the day so I can tackle it while my mind is fresh and energized.
Today, I blocked off a time to write from 10–11am.
I could feel today was going to be a tough day. I was dragging my feet, and I could feel my resistance and urge to procrastinate getting stronger.
At 9:59am, using all the willpower and discipline I could muster, I finally sat down in front of my laptop and mentally prepared to write.
And that’s when the real problem began.
To give you a better idea of what happened, allow me to take you back to this morning’s writing session:
I’m ready to go. I open my writing app, write my theme for the day, and get ready to work.
A notification pops up from Instagram. “Bob liked your photo.”
I open the app to check which of my photos Bob checked. It’s the one I posted in the morning of me meditating on the couch. I liked that one.
I go on to check who else liked it, as well as who checked my most recent stories.
Ok, things are looking good. Time to get back to writing.
I put down the phone, and return to my essay.
Hold on, wait, how is it 10:21am already? I thought I was on Instagram for like 2 minutes?
OK, never mind. Let’s get on with this writing thing. I don’t have any time to waste.
So, where was I? Ermmm… Ah, OK, I got it.
I begin to write my opening paragraph. Not too shabby…
Ding. Twitter sends me a notification: “Susan just retweeted your tweet.”
Awesome! Which one? I just posted a thread about meditation the other day. Could that be it?
I open Twitter to see what’s up.
No, turns out it was a different tweet about how motivation is often misunderstood, and how instead of relying on discipline or willpower we should change our environment to support our goals.
Nice! That was a good one!
While I’m here, let me check my messages, and quickly respond to a few DMs.
Let me also take a look at my other notifications: a few replies to my tweets. Awesome.
I quickly reply to the replies, and close the app.
OK, now it’s really time to get to work.
I check the time:
Son of a ….
What the heck?! How is it 10:52am already?
I swear I was just on Twitter for like 5 minutes! What is going on?
Was I in some kind of time vortex?!
Well, there goes my writing session… OK, that’s OK, I allocated extra time for contingencies like this. No problem, let me get some water and I’ll start fresh at 11am.
Hydrated and ready to work, I sit down at my computer once again.
I’m ready and fired up.
Let’s get to work!
But, before I get a chance to type a single word, I hear a little ding.
I reach for my phone. Slowly pick it up….
And I see…
7 new notifications.
I am never going to get any work done…
That’s it! I’ve had it!
That was the final straw.
I could not believe I wasted an hour of my day and all I got were two lousy sentences. I must have worked for exactly 3 minutes out of the whole hour.
Wow. This sucks!
To tell you the truth, this wasn’t even the first time this happened, either.
Social media can be an incredible tool, but unless we are intentional in how we use it, it can eat away at and destroy our lives and our dreams.
Remember, these platforms do not have your well-being in mind.
Their goal is to keep you on their platform for as long as possible, endlessly scrolling in a total daze, so they can profit off your time and your attention. And that means if, for some reason, you’re not browsing through their platform at any given time, their only goal is to use whatever tricks and hacks they can to hook you back in.
There is a war going on for your attention.
Each platform is fighting to capture and control as much of your time and attention as possible. Notifications are their way to reach out, capture, and hijack your attention so they can direct and control it for their own monetary gain.
It’s time to take back control
If you have any goals or ambitions in life, your time and attention are two of the most important resources you have at your disposal.
You must be intentional in managing them. You must carefully guard them against the vast number of potential distractions fighting to steal them away.
Social media is great, but it is meant to be used as a tool. If we are not intentional in how we use it, instead of us controlling it, it starts to control us.
We become slaves to our technology.
We give them total freedom and control over our attention.
The first step you must take to regain control is turning off notifications.
Stop giving them the power to reach out and hijack your attention at any time during the day. Instead, be proactive. Decide on a time that is convenient for you, when you can log in and check your notifications in peace.
After all, if social media is a tool, then you should be using it on your schedule, not on theirs.
Thank you so much for reading!
As part of my content creation challenge, I’ll be posting 6 articles per week here on Medium, as well as 6 YouTube videos and 6 IG Posts/Stories.
If you’re interested in more ideas and insights that can make our lives better, I invite you to follow me and join me on the journey!
Hope to see you tomorrow.
All the best,