Just over two weeks ago, after watching the highly contentious documentary, The Social Dilemma, I decided to conduct my own little social experiment and I switched off all social notifications on my mobile phone. EVERYTHING, including my emails. Here’s what happened.
About The Social Dilemma
This documentary explores the human impact of social networking with many experts, who were part of the creation of many of our social networks today, sounding the alarm on their own creations. With many pointing the finger of blame for increasing suicide rates amongst teens, political polarization, and increased anxiety and depression rates, squarely on social media.
Here is the official trailer for those of you who may not have seen it yet:
Some Thoughts On The Social Dilemma
While the documentary didn’t really cover anything that we didn’t already know, I did feel that it showed more of the depths of the impact that social media and how what we see on social media is controlled and can be abused. In a time when the South African mommy blogging community has been rocked by controversy, the documentary was an important reminder that our attention on social media is our currency and we should therefore be very mindful of who and what we follow, interact with, and engage with on social media because that ultimately will determine our experiences.
Turning Off Notifications
The documentary ended with all the experts being asked what their number one piece of advice would be to social media users, how we can better protect ourselves and every single one of them said the same thing: turn off your notifications that way the algorithm has a harder time seeing what it is that you react to.
So I did and here’s what happened:
First of all, when I say I turned off all notifications on my mobile device, I mean everything, including my emails. The only notifications I still receive is on WhatsApp and that’s with blue ticks turned off.
I immediately started to feel far less compelled to look at my phone or check my profiles since turning off notifications and that has had a knock-on effect in other areas of my life. I feel less anxious and pressured to respond to people in specific time frames, did you know, for example, that FaceBook favours pages that responded within rapid time frames to direct messages?
I am far more engaged in real life and spend less time on my phone. During our holiday recently, I used my mobile phone as a camera only and would upload or share highlights at night only, freeing up my days to be fully present with my children as they experienced Kruger Park and other Mpumalanga highlights for the very first time.
And most interestingly, I started seeing content from accounts and people I follow that I haven’t seen in months or years, people I have forgotten I even follow, because the algorithm was drowning them out. It’s refreshed all my social networks and I find I am enjoying my time online again.
Turning off notifications so that I am not constantly bombarded by influencer only content has reminded me of how I used to love to create and share purely for the pleasure it gave me. And not because I was obligated too or felt I had to in order to keep up some posting schedule.
Removing the pressure that came with social media notifications has meant that I have started to enjoy my time online again.
I recommend everybody tries this, turn off all your notifications and see what happens.