Everyone’s social media “Frenemy,” Facebook, recently made waves when co-founder — and the man made famous for changing the way musicians didn’t get paid — Sean Parker claimed that Facebook was built to exploit human vulnerability.
But before everyone starts throwing dislikes at Facebook for its potentially “addictive” qualities, I think we might want to consider tossing them a blue “thumbs up” instead.
It can be a bit short-sighted to criticize the platform, in this case, Facebook, because the platform and its positive (and potentially addictive) qualities are not the problem. Simply put, we are.
My generation, are, to put it gently, a generation of people who need to be handled gently. We want the work/life balance that allows us to be away from our desks and out of the office, but this means more time on the move.
We want the ability to handle a problem at the tap of a finger tip, but also get annoyed when we’re expected to tap that finger the second a problem arises.
We like our entertainment to be in the palm of our hand and easier than ever, and although spending eight hours binging a Netflix series on your couch can be an amazingly fulfilling quarter of a day of unfulfillment, when it comes to instantaneous gratification and entertainment, we still turn to our apps, our social media, our handheld friend that is always there with the tap of a fingertip — Facebook.
Just because Facebook has made it their mission to make this process as seamless and enjoyable as possible, does not mean that they are to blame for those of us who simply can’t handle how good of a job they have done.
Facebook is a business that generates income by keeping its users engaged on the platform, and viewing ads, for as long as possible. It’s found a way to constantly update its algorithms, making users crave the likes, comments and notifications their newsfeeds are flooded with.
I’m guilty of it. I have gotten so used to their reward system that the other day I drove by a few hitchhikers with their thumbs out and I thought they were “liking” my ability to signal while switching lanes.
Similar to early TV, Facebook has a super-engaging product and they have essentially cracked the code of consumers’ minds in knowing how to keep users on the platform. From implementing more video content and targeted ads to the increased focus on groups and their welcome posts and polls, Facebook understands what its users want, down to the individual.
They have come quite a long way from trying to sell you a shirt with your name, birth month and occupation on it in an effort to feed our fix for customization. They have evolved to customizing and cultivating the entire user experience, from start to finish. It’s all you, all day, all the time.
Consumers want to be entertained, and Facebook is doing its job in that category. But this doesn’t mean that we aren’t responsible for our own self-control. The company shouldn’t be to blame in this case. Don’t dislike the game, in this case…dislike the player.
To put it another way, no one is blaming Anheuser-Busch InBev for their alcohol addiction, or Seamless for making sure no one ever cooks a homemade dinner in New York City again (sorry, Blue Apron). So why are Facebook users claiming the social media platform should be to blame for continuing to innovate and improve the product so we want to keep wanting more?
So for anyone looking down the barrel of step one in what could be a 12- step program, before you go checking into Social Media Addicts Anonymous to begin keeping your Facebook usage time in check, here are some tips to stay balanced:
For those of you who are more ambitious, try going an entire week without checking your Facebook account. First, turn off your notifications on your phone, so that you’re less likely to check in each time you hear a ping. The first day will be the hardest, but the longer you go without logging on to Facebook, you’ll most likely find how unnecessary it is to go on each day.
Set a bedtime
For Facebook, that is. This will also help you unwind at night. Set a time to stop checking your Facebook account, whether it be 6 p.m. or 9 p.m. Putting a time restriction on Facebook time will help put an end to all of those times when you go online to see who liked your new profile picture, only to spend hours scrolling through your newsfeed and getting lost in animal videos…
Try an app
If you don’t think you can do it on your own, and no judgement here, there’s an app for that. There are several apps out there that can block time spent on Facebook to help limit access to the site. Apps such as Self Control, ColdTurkey, and Facebook Limiter all make it easy for you to block the social media site for any amount of time you choose.
Despite the calls for action against Facebook and its highly addictive qualities, there’s no denying that the brand will continue to be a part of many people’s lives. Social media and entertainment are continually integrated into our everyday lives and it just keeps getting sleeker, smarter, easier, faster and better suited for our individual needs.
Facebook is that cool friend you want to hang out with every single moment of every day of the week. The problem is just that your funny co-worker and your old camp friends are getting pissed. It’s time to spread the love.
These companies shouldn’t hurt their own business models to keep people away; it’s increasingly important for users to learn how to manage their own addictions. Think of Facebook like carbs. Each click is a piece of cereal, each “like” is a piece of bread, and each “wonder what my ex-girlfriend from high school is up to these days” deep dive into a photo album is a plate full of pasta.
Try not to consume too much in a day, or a week. You’ll be healthier for it. The key is acknowledging that you have a problem. That is step one. I know I do. You are not alone. We can do this together. First thing’s first, friend me on Facebook.
Ian Wishingrad is an award-winning creative director and millennial trend expert specializing in branding, advertising, social media and digital development. He is the founder and creative director of BigEyedWish, whose clients include telecom giant AT&T, Diageo, Nestlé, Macy’s, FuboTV, Terra Origin, ParmCrisps, IGY Marinas, and many other businesses and brands.
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