Use the Stop Rule to Break the Social Media Loop

You pick up your phone, browse Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and then browse your email. By the time you’re done with that, it’s time to see if there’s anything new on Facebook again. Then you realize that an hour has passed. Professor Natasha Dow Schull calls this a “play loop”. Eric Barker, in Barking the Wrong Tree, delves into Adam Alter’s Irresistibility for a solution.

Game Loop is best known as the mental quirk that keeps you in front of the slot machine, but it’s also what keeps you addicted to a game like Candy Crush . Basically, a play loop occurs when you lull to a near-calm state by doing the same thing over and over.

For many of us, this cycle is just a check on your smartphone that quickly turns into a cycle of checking email, Facebook, Instagram, or whatever. Adam Alter suggests using the “stopping rule,” which essentially gives you a hard ending. Here’s how Alter describes it with television:

This rule says that it is time for me to stop. It shatters dreams and makes you think of something else; it takes you out of the space you were in. It is best to use a declarative statement like, “I don’t watch more than two episodes of a show in a row, it’s just not who I am. “

So, in the case of your phone, the obvious solution is to set a timer before you go down the rabbit hole and force yourself to stop looking at your phone when the timer goes off. It still takes a little willpower and foresight – two things that are quite difficult to maintain when it comes to distracting apps on your phone, but it might be enough to break the habit.

An alternative approach to dealing with bad habits is to replace the bad habit with a better one . In the case of your social media loop, this could mean removing the most time-consuming apps altogether and then replacing them with a more productive app. For example, Barking Up the Wrong Tree invites you to read a book through the Kindle app instead of browsing social media for the millionth time.

Personally, I have a collection of stories in Pocket for the same purpose. Although I enjoy reading short stories, I always find it difficult to get me thinking about starting to read them. Those moments when I’m waiting for someone or just messing around, wasting time are the perfect time to learn about all these stories. The point is to either uninstall the apps that trigger this game loop, or at least bury them in a folder somewhere outside of your home screen. Either way, head to Barking the Wrong Tree for a few more ideas on how to break that noose.

How to Stop Checking Your Phone: 5 Research Secrets | Bark at the wrong tree via BoingBoing

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