404: Intention Not Found

I have depressive episodes pretty frequently.  When this happens, my internet use skyrockets. I’m filled with a vague anxiety I want to not think about and no motivation to be intentional about my actions, so I distract myself for hours. Our imperfect behavior doesn’t need to be considered a personal failing, sometimes there’s something deeper under the surface.

Digital Health

Studies have observed a correlation between passive social media and depression. There’s no clear evidence of passive social media causing depression but a reasonable hypothesis is that depressed or vulnerable individuals are more likely to spend more time passively engaging in social media and that in turn reinforces their negative outlook by fostering envy and FOMO. Additionally, mindless internet is a way to zone out and avoid your feelings, creating a perfect maladaptive coping mechanism in depressed individuals. 

If you’ve been attempting to embrace digital minimalism but find yourself “relapsing” consistently, it may be time to speak to a professional. 

Mental health conditions aside, most people use their devices as distractions. When you check twitter for the 7th time today, what exactly are you looking for? If you take a moment to pause here, you might be surprised by the results. This Medium article further expands on what I’m getting at. We use our phones to distract from emotional pain. 

Want to stop wasting time mindlessly checking and tapping? I use Action Dash to set up a system that makes me more cognizant of my intentions when I’m using my phone. I set it to soft block all non-essential apps every 15 minutes, and I can turn the block off after about 20 seconds. This adds a layer of friction that keeps me aware of what I’m doing. Another thing you can do is set your lock screen to a background that says “Why’d you pick me up?” or even add an obnoxious phone charm to your case. Any of these things will increase your awareness of your phone use and help you make better digital hygiene decisions. 

In the News

Why an internet that never forgets is especially bad for young people

Being a teenager is supposed to be a time where young people can explore their identities. Increasingly, however, there has been an unnerving shift in culture. Now that embarrassing photos and tweets from middle school or high school can affect job opportunities and social standing as an adult, young people are in danger of becoming increasingly anxious about making mistakes. Additionally, their identities might be solidifying earlier, making teens less likely to grow and evolve from the edgy extreme views a lot of young people discuss online.

How social media misinformation wins — even if you don't believe it

The problem with fake news may lie less in people believing it and more in insidious ways it changes online discourse. For instance, twitter bots promote extreme ideas that have little social support. However, as these bots proliferate, it creates social proof which can make people think the idea is more legitimate. Then, when the other side sees this content trending, they’ll hold more straw man arguments to be what the opposing side actually believes en masse.

-Madi