Updated: Sep 24
The veil on social media addiction has been lifted and what has been revealed, we cannot unsee.
Last week after reading much commentary on the interwebs about the new documentary feature The Social Dilemma, Joaquin and I sat down to watch. I had a feeling this film was in some way connected to the work of Tristan Harris, co-founder of Center for Humane Technology, an organization dedicated to sounding the alarm on the harmful effects of social media and a decade plus of its skyrocketing growth. As founders of a wellness app that lives solely on your mobile device, we've always considered the adverse effects of cellphone use and how our own app plays a role in what is now being called "the attention economy".
After I first saw Tristan Harris speak in 2017 at the Wisdom 2.0 conference in San Francisco, I breathed an audible sigh of relief -- the apps he referred to as
dangerous did not include ones like my own. A good way of measuring this is to ask questions like "Is this app's overarching purpose in my best interest?" and "Is this app improving my health, my wellbeing? Is this app improving my life?"
What makes The Social Dilemma and its message so compelling is the source. The people sounding the alarm, which include engineers, marketing professionals and executives, are the very individuals responsible for what we are seeing today. They have all experienced their own reckoning. This film is their way of righting their wrongs and hopefully, steering this ship that is us, humanity, back on course. It's an excellent, albeit jaw-dropping critique on social media and digital marketing, which mostly includes Facebook,, Instagram, and Google.
Upon watching the film, we spent some time reflecting on it and below is what we have learned. We felt compelled to share these tips with you, our community, in hopes that they offer up some kind of support.
1. Consider deleting your most distracting apps from your mobile device.
For me, this included News, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. I also did an audit on my notifications, turning off all except ones needed for work, or of course, Yoga Wake Up, which make sure the alarm functions optimally.
Waking up the following morning without feeling slave to my social media and notifications allowed me to relax and fully experience my morning yoga and meditation practice. I then designated desktop-only social media minutes throughout my workday, a schedule I hope to adhere to for good!
2. While using social media, seek to understand opposing views instead of challenging them.
The Social Dilemma confirmed the worst - social media apps serve us content we like or show interest in, thus guiding us deeper down dangerous rabbit holes and creating a deeper divide among those of us that feel differently.
Next time you see a post you don't agree with, seek to understand from a place of compassion. Reach out to that person in a positive way. You don't have to agree with them but they have those views for a reason, and just the fact that you reached out will boost those kinds of differing posts in your feed, as well as theirs.
3. The dopamine response you feel when you "Like" a post is based on science. Get your fix another way.
The harsh reality brought to light in The Social Dilemma is that platforms like Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram leverage the very same neural circuitry used by slot machines and cocaine to keep us using their products as much as possible. When we feel the desire to scroll down for new possible social interactions and solicit "likes", the chemical dopamine is at play.
Linked to happiness and motivation, dopamine rewards us for beneficial behaviors and motivates us to repeat them. So in the case of social media or similarly, gambling, we perceive a reward to be delivered at random, and if checking for the reward comes at little cost, we end up checking habitually.
Addiction is real, so the first step is recognizing that you've succumbed to this behavior...chances are we all have, and instead, replace this dopamine hit with other healthier ones.
This week in an effort to use Facebook for something positive, we created an ad that aggregated a list by YOU of things that make us smile. The list is LONG! Below are a handful of the most popularly listed!
See the hundreds of other positive dopamine-eliciting ideas and add your own! Here's a link to our community and the post is pinned to the top!
While there is nothing inherently addictive about smartphones themselves, we must be aware of the negative effects of abusing social media and other addictive apps. Pay attention to your behavior around using these apps. Are you using them right when you wake up? Scrolling in bed? Are you distraught when you forget your phone at home? If any of this is true, you may benefit from taking a social media hiatus.
Let us know if you try any of the above and how it works out for you! Got another helpful solution not listed here? We'd love to hear from you in the comments!