Social networks work because they form habit loops. You visit, and get a boost of dopamine, fueled by novelty. It’s always new, and randomly rewards. Even if you’re disappointed with what you see, it’s too late. But, what if you do get value from them, and just want to be in control?
- Remove social apps from your phone that have become the default filler to stillness.
- Remove the default feeds with an ad blocker.
Here’s my Facebook homepage:
The main feed, the sidebar recommendations, and the notification badge are gone. I can still tell I have unread notifications because the icon is white, but it doesn’t elicit the same compulsive response to clear it.
I use uBlock Origin, but this works with most major adblockers. Create a custom block list, and add these rules:
www.facebook.com###stories_pagelet_below_composer www.facebook.com###stream_pagelet div[id^=topnews_main_stream] www.facebook.com##.home_right_column www.facebook.com###notificationsCountValue www.facebook.com###pagelet_rhc_footer
www.linkedin.com##.scaffold-layout__main .feed-shared-update-v2 www.linkedin.com##div.community-panel-interest-package--expanded www.linkedin.com##.mb2.artdeco-card.community-panel www.linkedin.com##.news-module
(Also, install this extension.)
##div[aria-label="Timeline: Your Home Timeline"]
This short circuits the reward mechanism about blindly checking these sites, and leaves functionality of the rest of the site untouched. On Facebook, Events, Groups, and Messages continue to work fine. On LinkedIn, I can still look up profiles. On Twitter, profiles and lists work just fine. If you tweak the default experience, habits are easy to change.