Deleting social media creates (welcome) barriers to returning

Like many people, I am troubled by my relationship with screens, particularly my phone’s. I am trying three remedies. First, I use my phone in grayscale, like Lorde. Second, I avoid screens from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown.1 Third, I deactivated my Facebook and Instagram accounts, logged out of LinkedIn and Twitter, and deleted Reddit from my phone. For LinkedIn and Twitter, I deleted my passwords so I’d have to go through a recovery process to log in again.

Nothing radical here: we all recognize that infinity scroll is bad for our brains. But today I’m noticing how social media companies have made it easier, once you’ve decided to log off, to stay off by making it harder to browse when not logged in. Scrolling becomes an ordeal, and an ordeal is a fine commitment device. I actively want to be kept out of the kingdom, like a compulsive gambler self-excluding from a casino, and for whatever reason, the dopamine cartel helps by lowering the portcullis behind me.

I doubt a social planner would have designed things this way, but as a solution, it has the nice properties of being organic and voluntary.

  1. This has sometimes made making plans difficult, and I’ve been cheating to text and stuff; unfortunately once I pick up my phone, in my mind, all bets are off. What I really need is a dumb phone I can put my SIM card into on such occasions.↩︎