Social Media Grind

Sometimes social media is a bit of a grind

For the most part, I enjoy having time with my screens. I always like having something to read and I get that with Twitter and Facebook. I keep up-to-date with what’s happening in the world. I have the latest information on areas of interest I follow. I know what’s happening with all of the big stuff in world politics. I think it’s important not to be ignorant of basic world events. It doesn’t seem to be a good idea though, to be too well informed on all of the bad stuff going on. Following all the bad news too closely can be bad for your mental health. I often wish the news outlets of the world would spread more good information about what’s going on in the world rather than focusing on the awful. There could be more in the news about how technology is improving the world. However, a lot of the news seems to be about death and war. Sadly, too much airtime is given to religion and religious influence. That’s just the way that the BBC works, it seems.

Keeping up with the family news

One of the reasons we follow things in social media is to see what our families are getting up to. I like to hear what’s going on with my son George and his bicycle shop. I feel like I’m supporting him by commenting and sharing his posts about cycling. One of my nephews and his wife put up quite a few posts featuring their children. It’s great to see the kids growing up even though I haven’t met them in person yet. I’m not sure I agree with children being exposed too much on social media because they can’t give their permission. It is possible that the sharing can be kept within the family, so long as the parents of the children know how to restrict the permissions. I still think it’s better to have something more direct like a photo album, only shared directly with specific people and outside of social media. Something like a shared photo album in iCloud or Google photos is better than putting everything onto Facebook.

It’s never-ending – It just keeps coming

Sometimes you can feel like you are chained to social media. I like to keep an inbox zero with my email. When I open up the email application I delete, archive and even reply so the inbox is kept empty. If I don’t have time to deal with the contents of one of the emails directly I will snooze it until a moment when I’ll have time later. The email will pop back into the inbox and hopefully I will be able to deal with it when I next look at it. Sometimes snoozing an email is a chance ,to have second thoughts and leads me to make a decision to only ignore and delete.

Constant Stream of Junk

Same thing with Facebook. There is a constant stream of mostly junk. It seemed most of the rubbish is American information – sport and politics, of which I have no interest. If someone I’m connected to keeps putting stuff up like that, I just unfollow them. I don’t need to see whatever they think is important about some stupid American football game. I usually leave them as friends, but take their stream of consciousness out of my eyesight on the Facebook wall.

On Twitter I will unfollow people if I see too much rubbish I’m not interested in. If they are following me then sometimes what I will do instead, is to just mute or muffle their output so I don’t see it. I can always tap on the muted tweet and have a look to see something I might be interested in. It’s the fear of missing something that keeps me hooked and looking? There are some mornings when I can’t be bothered to look at the couple of hundred tweets since I last looked. I just tap the button at the top to get to the end and leave it at that. Sometimes it feels like that story in the TV series ‘Lost’ and the character had to keep watching a counter and press a button to stop the world from blowing up. He was imprisoned by this activity. Is social media becoming like this?

How to deal with this problem

In the latest version of the operating system for iOS devices there’s an option to limit your screen time. I don’t like the idea of cutting myself off from using my iPhone or iPad. On the other hand, I’m starting to think it would be a good idea to limit myself to having to one hour at some point in time during the day. Not a limit to access the whole of the phone but just a limit to social media. This would allow me to concentrate my efforts more on creating digital content rather than being a receiver of digital content. Instead of wasting time looking at videos on YouTube, reading tweets or posts on Facebook, I could be working on my next book, creating my latest podcast or making a video. I also consider spending time reading books as more worthwhile than reading short tweets et cetera. Even though it is still me consuming content, it is more valuable to me because I’m learning about writing as well as enjoying a story.

During my time off over the winter I could just simply say I have to begin creating at 9 o’clock in the morning. So even if I’ve been looking at social media before that while having breakfast or doing whatever at 9 o’clock I begin work. The idea would then be to disallow myself from looking at social media until I’ve finished my creativity for the day. Only when I’ve written a sufficient number of words for the day can I allow myself time to do non-important stuff.

For this to work I might have to turn off notifications coming in from my email application and the socials. It could be necessary for me to use the new system of regulating access to social media on my iOS devices. It’s possible for me to set specific times and also to limit the amount of time for this activity. I could create for myself a good habit. I would expect to give myself an opportunity to override my settings. It will be annoying to be locked out at a time when I have a good reason to be jumping into social media.

You have to have a good reason to restrict yourself

My reason for wanting to do this is to give me more time for being creative. It’s to stop me from wasting time going down a rabbit hole of looking at one video after another. Save myself from getting to a point in time two hours down the rabbit hole and feeling I’ve just wasted some valuable time. I don’t think it’s a good idea just to do this for the sake of it. Just because you have read somewhere that too much screen time is bad for you. If spending time on social media interacting with other people is what you like to do, then why not do it. It’s your life.

Setting up Screen Time

The first possibility is Downtime. This is to schedule a time away from the screen. I don’t want to do that. This is where you allow only certain apps and phone calls during a specific time period. The default setting is from 10 o’clock at night until 7 o’clock in the morning. I’m going to be asleep for most of this time so that’s not going to work for me. I could set a period during the daytime where I was only allowed to use productivity applications. That’s something I might try later.

The second possibility is app limits. I have set this one up to limit social networking to 2 hours per day. Two hours is probably too much. One hour would probably be better, but let’s try two hours first of all. There are other groups of applications you can also set. You could restrict the amount of time you spend on games, entertainment, creativity, education, reading or All Apps and Categories. It’s also possible to create combinations of these groups. So you could allow yourself one hour for games type applications and two hours for social network.

Another section within this Screen Time part of settings for your device lets you to choose apps which are always allowed. By default you get Messages and FaceTime included with the phone. Maps is also in the included list. I have added my password manager, Airmail, PlugShare, Waze, WhatsApp, TwistedWave, Anylist, Books, Day One, Drafts and few other applications which I don’t want to have any restrictions applied to. I could add more applications to this if at any time I’ve been told by the phone I can’t use a certain application due to the settings I’ve put in the Screen Time settings within iOS 12.

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Bypassing the settings is possible by setting a Screen Time pass code. I don’t want to have to go into the settings to mess about with things just to be able to use an application. For this reason I’ve set up the pass code which will allow me to momentarily get past the blockage.

Content and privacy restrictions – This doesn’t really affect me in the slightest because I’m the only person who uses my phone. I won’t be switching this on because it’s not necessary. Within this area you can create your own restrictions to allowed applications, content restrictions, various privacy restrictions and decide if you want to allow changes to certain other settings. I see the iPhone as a totally personal device and I would never share my phone with anybody else. I find it weird and probably silly for these parents who allow their children to use their expensive personal mobile computer devices. Give them a toy to play with or buy them their own phone, but don’t give them yours to mess with.

Let’s see how we get on

So I set up these basic restrictions on my iPhone which will also look at how I’m using my iPad. I’m not sure if it includes what I’m doing with my Mac. Right now I’m wondering if it also includes what I do with my Apple watch. I’m guessing it could be a bit of an eye-opener to show me how much time I spend with my Apple personal computer devices. I don’t expect it to be a big surprise. I know already I spend a lot of time looking at the screens. It’s for this reason I thought it worthwhile spending so much money on buying the latest iPhone XS Max. It’ll be interesting to see if I can be more productive by limiting the amount of time I spend on social media.