Often times we find ourselves doom-scrolling through our social media streams, searching endlessly for something to keep us pre-occupied in the moment. This is not a plea suggesting people curb their addictions or distractions, but more so to suggest aligning their social streams to better serve their own interests. In order to fully understand how to alter your current subconscious behavior towards social media, think of social media as parts of three categories: people, events, and topics.
Its not as if these three categories are unrelated, they are certainly connected since all media is shared by people and related to a specified topic or event. So if we think of these categories as webs and levers, you can start weighing where you’d like to focus in on your stream.
Say you want to hone in on specific topics as an example. And that you’d like your streams to be more about… lets say… therapy, nutrition, and mental health.
This is where we enter into and utilize the natural exploration features inherent to most modern social applications. Facebook has “Groups” while Instagram has “Explore” or “Hashtags” and a variety of other access points. Regardless, these social apps have search tools giving you quick access to any topics and the ability to add them to your feed. The social algorithm will start populating these interests and mix them into your existing feed in between updates that your connections and friends may be posting.
Now think about the influencer and their chosen medium of sharing their content. Do you like seeing photos, long blocks of texts, live experiences, or short video clips? Perhaps a combination of a variety of different kinds of mediums is your preference… find the consumption style that fits your natural capacity to feed your curiosity.
Consider the potential of realizing your favorite interests and topics within different social mediums and platforms. What this effectively does to the algorithm is that it starts adapting and making space for your topics while adjusting for the connected web of people within your inner and outer social circles. The algorithm will still include updates from people in relation to you, but just not as frequently in between other topical and event-related posts you’ve now entered into your social streams. This is a method of utilizing the algorithm to your advantage by adding a variety of your favorite interests to your ongoing experience.
What this strategy of social media alteration helps us realize is that people can start working towards and/or maintain a healthy relationship with social media and benefit by understanding how to use different instruments to manage their social tools. The reason why studies are done showing negative and positive outcomes of social media is because of the many unknowns produced by what we all know as the “algorithm”. A mathematical equation that serves up content to you based on whatever levers and variables are set by these companies and their underlying motives or goals.
Another natural way to consciously approach your time spent on social media is by incorporating productivity related topics into each of your social mediums. Again, you can empower your feeds with influencers or topics that specialize in productivity, and have this take up a percentage of your total web of interests. This can help you guide your inclinations towards more fruitful results in terms of activating your motivation towards a means of production.
Issues with misinformation, mental health, as well as social and cultural dynamics on social media are going to continue to be a major problem in today’s society for the near foreseeable future. This has been occurring since the internet was popularized in the 90s and 2000s. The reason for this is because social media companies haven’t caught on to the importance of giving users deeper visual controls and levers over their algorithms (than what currently exists). Quite simply, most if not all social media platforms allow for the ability to follow a specific person, brand or topic. But they fail to take it a step further. Once sub-controls are integrated into these types of functions, not only will you be able to follow ideas, but you’ll be able to further control that experience to sub-ideas within that same topic for literally anything (example: not just being able to view what Bob is sharing, but specifically only wanting to view Bob’s carpentry works that he shares within his posts and profile). This creates a gateway to an experience that aligns more closely with what is currently important to you.
As for the issue of misinformation and the falsifications of media, the technology for grading and reputation need to advance without being manipulated. We see this rampant on sites like Amazon or eBay, but it is possible. News can be moderated as products, similar to how Amazon provides reviews on their listings as well. Once these news sources are graded on accuracy, reliability, and other relevant standards, and are visually branded and integrated into social technologies, then we’ll start seeing more reliable sources of information out there. If food, restaurants, movies, and products can be reviewed, why can’t news?
It may make sense to restrict your social media usage, but the reality is that it is increasingly beneficial to develop networks and have access to online communities within the age of technology that we happen to live in. Starting to leverage these tools better and understanding the capabilities can be difficult, since the coded algorithms are hidden from the public. The key is to leverage what you can and align the social experience with your goals to bring you a net benefit for what you are seeking. Conditioning your experiences through these strategies can help your subconscious shift gears.