Add A Little Friction

As I walked to the coffee shop, I did what I always do. I pulled my phone out and tapped the power button to see if I had any notifications. The difference this morning was that my screen was black.

Needing a complete breather from my phone, I had decided the night before to shut it off completely. What sickened me about my seemingly innocuous phone check this morning was that this practice had become so habituated within me that even though I knew my phone was off, it still happened. My brain and body were on autopilot, and the now ingrained practice I had (or have) is to…just check my phone.

Our phones have truly become extensions of us (which all tools are ultimately supposed to do). One of the habits many of us now have at the slightest hint of downtime or boredom is to check our social media accounts. Assuming this is an unhealthy practice (which I’d argue it most definitely is), what can we do to help solve this problem?

Always logout of your social media accounts when you’re done using them.

Every single app you have on your phone does everything it can to ensure that you actually getting in to the app is frictionless (some apps may make it a little more challening for security purposes, ie. 2FA on your banking app). Why do they want it to be frictionless? Because friction gets in the way of eyeballs, and in the attention economy, less eyeballs equals less money.

Checking social media accounts with intentionally isn’t bad; checking social media accounts impulsively out of a habituated response to the potential discomfort of boredom or silence is. To break this habit, you need a little more friction in the equation.

So, Log Out

Like, really log out. Don’t do Facebook’s little thing where you can tap a button and it automatically logs you back in. Really log out. Don’t let your phone remember your password, don’t do any “next time remember me buttons. Log out.

Sure, this might make it a little more of a pain when you really want to check social media in an intentional pursuit, but that’s worth it to avoid becoming a habituated cog the attention machine.

A little friction goes a long way.

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Nicholas J. Weyrens

Nicholas J. Weyrens

Husband. Dad. Pastor. I write about what interests me.