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Social Media Micro-Blogging is a Mindhack Drug That Must Be Stopped

Updated on August 22, 2012

The Social Network... Someone is Making Money off your Friendships!

So, if you could monetize anything in the world - and technology lets us do all sorts of zany things - wouldn't it be lovely to monetize love? Hate has been monetized for a long time. They make guns. They make it a defended constitutional right in this country to carry them. (Unlike civilized nations all over, like my beloved home country, the UK!) Weapons and martial arts training and all that has monetized hate for quite some time. How do you monetize love?

Telephones have managed a way, through long-distance phone calls, to monetize love by providing a service that connects you, at will, with people you love all over the world. Postal services managed a similar service. I don't necessarily think it's evil, you see. In this case, I choose to pick up the phone and pay the cost for the long-distance bill. I choose a plan that lets me seek out providers that don't charge me extra for long-distance, because I do spend time on the phone with my father still in Britain, and my wife calls her parents and her college friends and all that. Anyway, I pay for the service. I get the service.

Data and marketing is not involved.

No one is sitting there, scouring my browser history and comparing it the browser histories of my friends and relations, looking for ways to entice me to buy things I don't need or want. I am not surrounded by "click on me!" links all over my interactions with friends and family.

I can see how some people think it is valuable to maintain so deeply connected to everyone in their life, but I am not seeing it as anything but a way to monetize love, convert it into marketing fodder. That's really evil. That's grade AAA+ brand Evil.

They're Hacking Your Brain

Ever heard of TV Tropes Syndrome? Wikiclick Syndrome? It's where you are sent to a site with links, and it traps you into a tornado of clicking links until hours have passed and you're no closer to actual work or productivity than before, and you can't even remember, really, what happened and where you went and why. It's like information has become a narcotic that stupefies you into submission. Slack-jawed, you gaze upon the screen, and follow the points of interest. This is the effect of a primal part of our brain seeking easy outlets to spurts of dopamine.

What this means is that these social networking sites have taken your love of other people and used tools like timeline and the constant, effervescent NOW of Twitter, to connect you to people and their links and their pages with links. You are caught in a web of information, and the primitive part of your brain clicks things until your willpower kicks in and drags you away from the drug before it's too late.

The addictive nature of these sites is widely documented and discussed. People, they're hacking your brain. They're doing it to make money by foisting advertisements upon you. It's evil. Get out while you still can.

If you knew how much time you lost to such sites, you addicts, you might burst with shame.

How do you escape?

Cold turkey is the only method that has proven effective. Making a public exit will only bring in the comments from other addicts stuck in their addiction that might sway you back. There's no point in returning, even to delete your account, for now. First, just change your password to something very alpha-numeric and strange and obscure that you could never figure out twice, and that you do not write down. Now, you have locked yourself out of your account.

Second, look for an app in your Chrome browser, or Firefox Browser, that will let you control your addiction by setting up an automatic redirect to a site you actually use for work - for instance, I do a lot of my game writing work in Shared Google Docs, and use an on-line task-tracker for my daily "to do" list- because your muscles will remember how to get the dopamine, and they will jump to it. Nanny for Google Chrome is my preferred blocker in my preferred browser.

The reason I recommend both a password change and a blocker is because it will keep your primitive, addicted brain from using a different browser to log in, you know, just to check up on your dear Aunt Griselda real quick, or something.

After the back of your addiction is broken for good, six months from now, you can quietly return just to delete the account. This way, no one will even notice that you're gone and you won't have to explain yourself to a bunch of ridiculous addicts.

Break your dopamine fix on social sites, where love is the drug that rules you.

Also, I suggest blocking most common news sites during the work day, and setting a limit on how much news you can consume. Dopamine addicts will go from one to the other like candy. Cracked is right out, too. So, too, is BoingBoing. Sites like these will not help you break your addiction. They will only redirect it.

I developed this method for my students with the help of SWITCH, by Chip and Dan Heath.It has worked for them, and I recommend the book to others as a tool for change. It is focused on a simple solutions to breaking the pattern.

If this doesn't break your addiction to mindless dopamine fixes, I suggest cancelling your internet at home, and relying only on free wifi that is available from cafes and libraries and such, once a week. I promise there is no e-mail so important it cannot wait until Saturday Morning, particularly when people have your phone number and they can call you on the phone and talk to you like a normal, rational person should.


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