What happened yesterday?! Facebook headquarters seemed to be having major issues with their services including Facebook.com, Instagram, WhatsApp and others. But what happened when people realized they had gone offline indefinitely was indicative of a growing problem with social media overuse. In this episode Clément talks about what the social media giant’s shutdown, what happened to people emotionally and psychologically, if it’s possible to avoid social media, how to limit the usage and how to make it work for you in a productive way.
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[00:00:00] Good morning from where I am at least good morning from MedellÃn and welcome to another episode of unleash love. My name is ClÃ©ment Yeung, and I’m your host and I’m in a different setup today. This is a different type of podcast episode. I’m going to be recording this by myself, no guests today. And the thing that I wanted to talk to you about is really all about social media addiction and why it’s something that I think we need to spend some time talking about.
[00:00:34] I know that it’s already an important topic, but we’ve never really talked about it on unleash love before and yesterday, which prompted all of this, the Facebook servers experienced some issues. I don’t know exactly what those issues were, I think is really technical, but we couldn’t get access to any of the Facebook’s suite of products.
[00:01:00] Because if you don’t know this already, Facebook owns Instagram and WhatsApp, which is a messaging service and a bunch of other stuff too. And they all went down yesterday because the Facebook servers were having problems.
[00:01:16] Uh, and it really hit me hard, you know, because I was sitting there trying to get back into Instagram and I couldn’t do it. And I felt really uncomfortable knowing that I didn’t have access to these platforms. And I didn’t know when I was going to get access again and all of that kickstarted, this entire thought process of, I probably have a really bad addiction to this.
[00:01:46] I’ve seen programs before about social media addiction. I’ve seen the social dilemma for example, which is a really great documentary. I think it’s still a Netflix, it’s a Netflix, um, exclusive documentary. And so the social dilemma is kind of part fiction part, uh, documentary because there’s actors and actresses.
[00:02:12] That kind of helped outline some of the points that the engineers like they’re interviewing people who helped to build the platforms that we use today. Like Facebook, uh, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Google, all those big tech platforms are making these points and they kind of make it very, the documentary uses actors and actresses and make it very entertaining and engaging.
[00:02:37] And I think it’s groundbreaking to watch something that has been created with the help of the people who made the platforms in the first place. Right. And get it from the horse’s mouth. So to speak as to what is actually going on. When we use email, for example. Okay. I’ll give you a little example as to why is so important and why people might not be taking it as seriously as they should be when we use email.
[00:03:06] Right? You think email is just such a harmless thing. You open your inbox, you check what kind of messages you’ve got. If there’s anything you need to respond to, and then you go and write some emails and that’s it, it’s done wrong. Email is not like that. It’s evolved over time. It used to be like that one day, a long time ago, when Yahoo for example, was one of the first ones that offered, uh, email. There was Microsoft Hotmail, and it was pretty boring. Like there was nothing really to do there. Now with email it’s evolved over time and it’s so. Clever at keeping you in your inbox.
[00:03:43] There’s always something else to look at. There’s always something else to do. There’s always something else to see. And the real goal I think, and I’m going to get into this later of these platforms is to make sure that they’re soaking up as much of your time and your activity and engagement as possible before they let you go.
[00:04:03] They don’t ever want to let you go to be honest, right? I mean, their goal is really just to keep you using their platforms because as long as you’re using their platforms, they’re benefiting, they’re either getting you to subscribe or they’re making some advertisement revenue from you, or they’re just mining your data, which is always really important and powerful for them.
[00:04:23] And I’m going to get to those points later. But again, what happened yesterday? Everything went down from Facebook HQ, which means all of those platforms that Facebook owns went down. I couldn’t communicate with anyone on WhatsApp. I couldn’t talk to my girlfriend who, uh, I got into a relationship with relatively recently.
[00:04:41] I’m here in Columbia. So really we communicate exclusively on WhatsApp and I had to email her to get her to download telegram and signal, which are two really cool messaging platforms. Actually, if you haven’t used them, you should probably check into them. Okay. Pretty well encrypted. They are definitely, uh, outside of Facebook’s realm and reach an ownership.
[00:05:08] And so, you know, they’re not spying on you is what their main benefit is. They’re not recording your voice. They’re not recording what you type to later sell it to you as advertisements. So I had to get her to download those apps so that we could start talking with each other because my current SIM card doesn’t let me call out at the moment.
[00:05:28] Anyway, I just, I felt like I was cut off from the world, which is really weird. Just because. One company isn’t functioning properly. All of a sudden you feel like you’ve had your capacity to communicate with the outside world taken away from you.
[00:05:44] Isn’t that scary? What did I do to cope? I, I immediately went to other platforms. Oh my God, this is a real revelation. I went to LinkedIn and Twitter. I’ve never used Twitter for like years. I mean, I use LinkedIn sometimes, but I don’t use it anywhere near as much.
[00:06:01] Probably should be, cause it’s a really good platform for professional networking and for getting, you know, new leads and new business and just getting your professional life, you know, to grow. Um, and I went to LinkedIn. I, and I, I just felt like I needed to do something I needed to publish something.
[00:06:20] Right. Um, maybe you don’t feel that way, but I think a lot of. Who do create content like I’m doing right now for you. We feel the need to keep creating every day. Now, if I lose my audience because Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp disappear, then obviously I’m going to start looking for other avenues to promote my business and to start reaching people.
[00:06:43] But the reality is that it wasn’t just professional. I felt a deep need, I felt an addiction that was rising to the service of withdrawal symptoms. And I literally created a video on LinkedIn for the first time yesterday, sharing my thoughts about what I’m experiencing right now, what I’m talking to you about, which was as good and excuses as any to actually use it.
[00:07:05] Um, but it did highlight to me how really addicted I am now what happens with these platforms again, which is detailed in the social dilemma, which is that documentary I mentioned. Is that they’ve been engineered over time and this wasn’t overnight. It was something that happened over the course of, you know, decades, right?
[00:07:26] Um, they’ve been engineered over time to really mine you for your information. How do they get you to give them all of your information? They got to get you to use the platforms every day, over and over for hours and they’re tracking everything. And then kind of using that to build a picture of who you are as a person and who people are, what makes people tick.
[00:07:49] Now they can sell advertisements and things easier. And the only reason we keep giving our time to these platforms, isn’t because we’re connected. There’s a lot of apps and tools and platforms out there that can connect us to people. The reason why we do it is because they’ve gotten good at making us feel good.
[00:08:09] They’ve gotten good at getting our brains, our bodies to release. Endorphins dopamine. Dopamine is the reward, uh, endorphin. Right? So if you can give someone an experience that is rewarding, they’re going to get that dopamine release when they finally, you know, Expedia. Experienced, excuse me, everything you do on social media, everything you do with Facebook, think about it.
[00:08:39] It’s like, um, you’ve got the notifications alerts that pop up. You’ve got the push notifications. You’ve got who’s online right now with the green light and everything is engineered and designed in a way that kind of makes you feel good about using the platform makes you feel connected. It makes you feel like you’re, you’re actually doing something productive.
[00:08:59] You’re actually in demand. You’re actually wanted, even if no one’s messaging you, the platform is going to give you notifications. It’s going to tell you, oh, Hey, this person’s online right now, or this person celebrating a birthday or there’s this event happening right now? Or have you tried doing this lately?
[00:09:16] There’s so many different ways that they keep you engaged. Uh, and it just really came through like the whole thing when these platforms stopped or when let’s just say, let’s just say, if we stopped using social media, even for just the. Which happened yet today? EV no one could use those platforms. We have to go to some other platform, but let’s just say everyone chose to do it for a day.
[00:09:40] They would see how addicted they actually are to their social media. And it’s not healthy. It’s not good. Uh, and I’m going to get to my thoughts about what we can do about this. Like what’s the practical things we can actually do to take back control of our lives and become sober again. Um, and you know, what’s practical.
[00:10:07] What’s going to work because obviously we’re kind of stuck with social media. I think, I don’t know about you, but I’ve tried not using social media before. I’ve tried to distance myself in the past. I’ve tried to just cut it out entirely and it’s not worked for me because I have ambitions. Really do benefit from me using social media.
[00:10:32] It’s a platform to advertise and to get engagement. So with that said, well, I just, uh, I think that we have to be clever about this. So let’s just think about what the current situation is with social media in general, because we’ve heard statistics before, but I was really curious about, well, what’s happening in 2021.
[00:10:52] What’s the situation now? And it just goes to show how pervasive they’ve become when we see statistics such as the following. Facebook has 2.8, five, 3 billion, monthly active users in 2021. That’s more than some countries, uh, right. Combined, you know, like that’s a, a huge amount of the world’s population using social media.
[00:11:26] I mean, think about it. It’s like monthly. That’s not even just in total users. That’s a monthly usage. That means that people are actually active on the platform. That’s still number one. YouTube is potentially reaching 2.291 billion. I mean, you get it right. I don’t have to read this out to you. WhatsApp’s next?
[00:11:45] Instagram’s next. We, we understand it’s basically almost everyone on the planet that can actually own a device is using these platforms. And what Facebook does is it goes to these developing countries, right? And it makes deals with the network providers there to give phones that already have Facebook installed on them for free.
[00:12:11] And Facebook are basically subsidizing the costs of the internet, right. Is what they call it. So. Rather than you buying a phone, like imagine that you’re living in these developing countries and you don’t have the purchasing power to get like a really great phone with a great, um, terrier and you basically settle for what the network provides for free kind of right.
[00:12:41] And you get access to Facebook. You don’t get free data unless you’re using Facebook, which means the internet comes through Facebook, which isn’t really the internet. You and I know that, right. I mean, if you’re listening to this from many of the developed nations, um, or users in a situation where, you know, you’re, you’re not like limited to that degree, you know, that the internet isn’t really just Facebook, it’s everything, um, online.
[00:13:06] Uh, but for people who are just getting you, you know, introduced. They’re introduced to it through Facebook. So that’s how they’re able to get such big numbers and maintain such big numbers. Because even if people are leaving from the developed countries, like I I’ve known people, I have personally done this before and I’ve seen are, I’ve heard of people doing it.
[00:13:26] Um, they just, you know, deactivate their accounts and they move somewhere else. Or they just stop using social media altogether. I have friends who don’t use social media. I’m like, why, what do you even do in your life? Um, but they are, uh, the going to these developing nations and they’re getting new subscribers without even really having them opt in.
[00:13:51] It’s just part of the deal. And now that’s how they see the world through Facebook and they’re mining their data, just like every other user. It’s a crazy machine. I don’t really know what to do about it. Um, I’m, I’m a little bit concerned about. About the trajectory that we’re on here. I’m not really entirely confident that this is having a positive effect on humanity.
[00:14:13] I think if I was going to be even less polite, I would say that social media, as it is today is incredibly damaging for the development of our race. Um, and it’s incredibly damaging for potentially the rest of the world because of the impact that will have on our behavior. Um, so yeah, that’s why I’m making an entire episode out of this.
[00:14:41] It’s such a, um, it’s such an important topic to actually open up for discussion and to make people aware of, um, is it possible to live without social media? Let’s just think about this for a second for adults. I’m already talked about it. I think if I was going to go into more detail, when I cut out social media, I found that I lasted for about a month maximum.
[00:15:10] That was no Facebook, no Instagram. I did keep using email, which you could argue is a kind of form of social media now because you’ve got the chat function in it, the Hangouts function in it in Google, Google, and Gmail. Um, I did use WhatsApp, so that’s kind of not really cutting down social media. Um, but I’d looked at well, what would you need to do to actually get rid of these corporations from your life?
[00:15:40] These data mining corporations, there are platforms out there that you can subscribe to like signal. There are cloud storage platform. Um, an email platforms that are fully encrypted that promise not to monitor your activity and steal your data. So they live out there, but they’re not integrated, meaning they’re not as compatible with each other.
[00:16:09] It will be a little challenging to get them to, to get, to use them in a way that’s productive, but it’s possible. Um, however, the major issue that we have if were trying to leave social media is not that we’re going to be. Or we’re just going to have, um, issues, trying to get something that feels comfortable to use.
[00:16:32] You know, when we want to communicate with friends or family or anyone else for that matter, the issue is really all about, are you using social media to do business? Is there some aspect of your business that requires social media usage? And the majority of people will say, yeah, there is actually, I mean, I use it for paying for advertising so that I can get my product in front of people or my offer in front of people.
[00:16:57] Or I use it to, for my personal brand or I use it to market my, my business, my blog organically I’d post things on there. Right? So you’re using it, whether you, whether you want to or not, that’s where the audiences, this is the problem that most people have with social media. It’s where the audience is.
[00:17:17] Most people are using these platforms. So it’s really difficult to move away from that because by moving away from it, you have to find. Another way to reach your audience. Now you can do that with email. I don’t want to make this a marketing thing. I know many of you might not know this, but I also run, um, in marketing agency, a digital marketing agency.
[00:17:37] So I have so many thoughts about this that come from the marketing and advertising perspective. And if you’re interested in hearing those, you can always reach out to me. But, um, let’s just leave it at that. I think it’s so hard to move away from it as an adult. If you’re actually doing business on this, now that’s not to say kids don’t use it for business either.
[00:17:57] And there’s a lot of influencers out there that are making more money than you and I, and they’re less than 16 years old. Okay. It’s a different world we live in today. Um, you know, kids can do a lot with social media and the problem that I think kids have is it’s like a social status. So if you’re not using social and if you don’t have.
[00:18:21] IPhone. And if you’re not up to date with technology, you’re not cool. You’re just not cool. And remember what it feels like, right. If you’re listening to this and you’re over a 25, remember what it feels like to be in school and to want to be part of the cool kids, gang or group it’s everything. It means everything because that’s your currency at school.
[00:18:46] So taking social media away from your children, or just trying to craft a world in which social media is an important for kids is fruitless. It’s not going to work because it really is important for kids. So how do you manage this? It gets to the point of management to, how do you manage your life with social media?
[00:19:11] How do you mean. So that you don’t have to let go of it, but you don’t have to let it take over your life. You don’t have to let it trigger your dopamine and activate your, uh, your addiction behavior and, you know, manipulate your behavior. Right. Just in general. Um, and that’s the golden question right there.
[00:19:31] Uh, I got some studies here that show what someone who wrote an article for the Harvard business review actually did to limit their social media usage and to become, I guess, more autonomous emotionally. So that is to say not influenced, uh, in an indicative, uh, fashion. And basically what they did was they had a.
[00:20:07] Fast, they took a break from social media initially, like to start the, um, the whole experiment. I think it was a week. So they took a week off of social media, which if you think about it is a long time, especially if you’re a heavy user of social media. And in that week, they were able to reset their brain.
[00:20:35] And to remember what else there is to focus on, because remember these social platforms are taking our focus away from us because that’s what they prey on. That’s what feeds them. That’s what powers these social platforms is your focus. And when your focus is taken away from you, for one thing, it’s not available for other things.
[00:20:55] So you stopped. Noticing what’s going on around you stop noticing. Maybe you spend less time in nature. Maybe you spend less time talking to people in real life. Maybe you spend less time, um, you know, with your partner or with your family. I don’t know what it is, but it would be any of those important things that are essential for human social, uh, activity.
[00:21:18] So they did that. It might even have been longer. It could have even been 30 days. I think it says here 30 days, can you imagine 30 days without social media icon? So, you know, that’s exactly, uh, what they put themselves through, but just like any addiction, you know, I, I used to be an alcoholic, right. And to go 30 days without alcohol at the beginning of my realization that I was an addict was terrifying.
[00:21:46] Like, I couldn’t even imagine it, but like I said, with any other addiction, it all starts with one step. So. You don’t have to do a 30 day fast. You could do a one day fast and see how that feels. You could do a, uh, a three-day fast and see how that feels. Really. You could progressively build it up over time.
[00:22:06] I don’t know what you want to do. All I’m saying is there’s no one way to do this, but the most important thing this person is saying, who says it actually worked for them, was to disconnect and reset at the beginning, which means taking a break. And as long as it takes, it could take 30 days. It could take 60 days.
[00:22:24] It could take 90 days who knows. But as long as you feel like you’re no longer owned by your addiction, that’s when you know it might be okay to, you know, not artificially, keep yourself away from it anymore. Like I had a drink the other night. I mean, I’ve had drinks since I stopped drinking. Right. But I had, it always surprises me.
[00:22:49] I don’t know. I mean, there’s because I have such a. That’s probably not the best word to use. I have such a rich experience in history with alcohol, that it always surprises me when I’m able to have a drink and not need to have another, because I’m so used to it from my past. Um, but it shows me that I’ve overcome my addiction.
[00:23:09] And so that’s what this is doing here. So you reset yourself until you feel like you’re no longer owned by it. And then maybe when you go back and use it, which you might have to because like with alcohol, okay. I don’t have to drink alcohol, but in a social situation where people are ordering alcoholic drinks, it’s kind of like just courtesy sometimes to also drink alcohol, be part of the group, be accepted, be one of them.
[00:23:34] It’s a social human cultural thing. So I see alcohol as being a necessary, uh, addition to networking. And I see social media as being a necessary addition to. You know, modern human life, not just for professional, but also for personal purposes as well. Number two, they carved out daily blocks so that they could use, uh, their social platforms during those times.
[00:24:08] And this is called, um, giving yourself the, uh, the allocation or allotment of time for, for, for things that are not maybe as productive as others. And you can see this with, I mean, I do this, or I’ve tried to do that. I don’t do this all the time, but I try to do this with procrastination in general, rather than procrastinating throughout the day.
[00:24:32] I try to procrastinate in the morning and it works for me because as soon as I’ve gotten it out of my system, like I can focus on my work. So when I, when I wake up until let’s say around about, I mean, I usually wake up around about. Nowadays, I’m waking up earlier, but let’s say I woke up at eight. I get to work by nine and then from nine till 12, I just not only procrastinate, but I also do things that are kind of more relaxed.
[00:25:02] That means by 12, I have done everything that I know I was going to do, which isn’t super productive or is potentially just entertainment. And now I can focus on everything from 12 until whatever time I want to finish work. And I’m more or less pretty focused. It might not work for you, but I’m just saying, there’s just ways that you can factor these things into your life, where you don’t have to worry about it getting out of control.
[00:25:28] So that was like number two. And you know, I could go on, there’s more here from the, uh, from the experiment, but it’s like being smart about it, you know, making time to use them being disciplined and. And making sure that you’re actually breaking free from your emotional attachment to it. That’s the key.
[00:25:54] You gotta make sure you break your emotional attachment to these also, I personally think why, why do you want to use social media in the first place? If you can know, and you’ve heard this before from people like Simon Sinek, if you know your why then everything else makes sense until you know your, why you don’t know what you’re doing or why you’re doing it.
[00:26:15] Right. You don’t know, you don’t know what’s driving you. And so you’re just going to do things that feel good or feel right. But if your, why is I like to keep in touch with my friends and family, then. You know, craft your social media around that. Stop following people that you don’t know, stop following a new sources, stop following things that are going to distract you from your why, which is to stay in touch with your friends and family only follow friends and family, right?
[00:26:48] That’s probably not going to be realistic. Realistically, it might be something like I want to promote my business. I want to reach more people. In which case, again, craft your social media usage around that. Don’t subscribe to your friends and family, you know, follow them. There’s a way that you can deactivate their notifications or hide them from your feed.
[00:27:12] Be really disciplined about this because look, if you’re using social media so that you can actually promote your business properly and effectively and efficiently, then there’s no real reason why you should be doing anything else with it. Right. That’s what I’m trying to say. This is one of the ways to get out of that addiction, that emotional attachment to it.
[00:27:34] So my final thoughts are this, and this is where I’m going to finish this, uh, episode. I’ve had a great time doing this, by the way. It’s the first time, like I said, I’m doing these kinds of, uh, monologues. Um, we’re not going to be able to get rid of social media stuck. We’re stuck with it. Um, and to try to get rid of it from your life.
[00:27:56] I mean, go for it, all the power to you. I’m not trying to say you shouldn’t do that, but if you can actually keep social media, but not feel like you’re attached to it or that it owns you, you’re in a much better position. To actually be successful in terms of marketing or selling offers and products online, because it’s such a powerful medium to do that.
[00:28:22] And not only that, if you’re building a personal brand and you’re interested in things like I’m interested in, for example, just making the world a better place, educating people, helping grow like personal growth relationships, all that kind of thing. You can use these platforms to your advantage, to generate an audience and get the word out.
[00:28:44] That’s why people like Russell brand, Joe Rogan, and many others who have big platforms on social media, use those platforms to talk about the disadvantages and the failures of social media. Do you know what I’m trying to say? So it’s. You might want to demonize social media. There are many great things by the way, which I think social media brings into our lives.
[00:29:11] I had this conversation with Alex from a previous episode recently, Alex event. And we talked about, well, what is it really true? Is social media really bad? Is that true? And I’m sticking to my guns here and saying, you know, I actually think overall the net impact of social media is as it currently stands right now today with the platforms of the choices we have today and their ethics and goals, I think it’s probably net pretty bad.
[00:29:42] Um, but that’s not to say that there’s a lot of good that can happen with these social platforms. Yes. You can use them to your advantage. So that’s that. Um, and then balancing, following kind of like the experiment that I outlined from the, uh, person who did that for the Harvard business review, um, that’s.
[00:30:03] Really key. So managing the way that you use social, I don’t do this anywhere near as much as I should do so I’m not trying to be a hypocrite here, but if it matters enough to you, you will carve out time to use it and you will be disciplined and you will engineer the experience you get. Now that’s something I’ve gotten really good at.
[00:30:26] So I unfollowed all of the sources that I thought were shit. I unfollowed all the toxic messaging, you know, cause there’s a lot on social media is lot of noise. There’s a lot of people who are upset and angry and just very polarized who want to pump out their frequent. And if you’re not on their frequency, it’s going to be jarring.
[00:30:49] You’re going to see messaging that you just don’t understand and don’t agree with. And don’t like, and makes you feel awful news outlets. Like, so if you don’t, if you can’t disassociate yourself from that, and if you can’t see them from a different perspective, then you might get drawn into that whole, um, uh, you know, narrative.
[00:31:08] So I think just being really smart about how you engineer your experience and if anyone needs any advice, they can reach out to me, message us on Instagram messages, ironically messages on Instagram, hopefully the platforms stay up, right? So they actually see the message, or you can get through to us on our website contact form, regardless of how you do it.
[00:31:31] I’m happy to talk to you about any of what I’ve just discussed. And I am so happy that you came and listened to this today. Thank you so much for listening to me. It makes all the difference and it helps me make more content. So looking forward to the next one in the meantime, have an amazing. And we’ll see you soon.
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