Your Notifications Lie to You

Ding! It needs your attention right now , as the notifications say. Boeing! There may be an emergency . Or just as often: Boop! Someone you love might want to talk to you. We receive hundreds of notifications every day, and almost all of them are lies.

Notifications are for the app, phone and social network. They rarely benefit you.

The problem with notifications goes beyond interrupts or the fact that they deliver randomized dopamine hits like an over-addictive slot machine. Notifications help apps distort your worldview. They make you think that your phone is important and necessary.

How often do you really need to interrupt your day when your pants are buzzing and forcing you to quit what you do, be it work or play, and rush to other activities? Maybe once or twice a day, right? So why are you bothering with notifications all the time?

The goal is only to get you back to your phone

Your phone absorbs you perfectly. The channels are endless, the video plays automatically. The notification is meant for you to pick up your phone and spend time on it . Do not give you the news of an emergency or communicate with your loved ones. Notifications are for Apple, Samsung, Google, Facebook, or Twitter. Not yours.

All of these companies benefit from the use of their products. Google wants your eyes and your data. Apple wants you to be so addicted to your iPhone that you are thrilled every time they launch a new one. If you just leave your phone in your pocket all the time, what good is it to them?

While writing this article, I took a look at the notification center to see what has been pinging me lately. I try to trim my notifications, but there was Reddit telling me about some hot topic. I have to turn this off, I told myself, and then spent the next ten minutes browsing Reddit.

Notification is not really something that a friend interacts with you

The engineer who invented the Facebook Like button described its effects as “vibrant sounds of pseudo-pleasure.” We like the idea that a friend likes us or that he likes what we decided to create or share.

The dark side of this is loneliness and FOMO . You keep checking your phone, notifications or not because you are afraid of missing something. Maybe a loved one just wrote. Maybe some important news has just come out. Maybe your coworkers are discussing something funny on Slack and you’re missing out .

Even when we hit the jack – pot-yeah friend loved what I posted! -It often does n’t really mean that.

Former Google design ethicist Tristan Harris notes that social media companies design their products to look like your friends are interacting with you when in reality they just click the button that appears in front of them when they scratching their own itching. social approval. They upload a photo, and Facebook prompts you to tag you. They’re scrolling through Twitter and they love your tweet because it’s right in front of them.

They weren’t looking for you. They don’t really interact with you as a person. They just clicked something, although they were vaguely reminded of your presence.

Would you go out and buy a device that randomly grabs your attention throughout the day, just to tell you that Instagram computers made your name scroll across the screen of someone on the other side of the country? Well, you did it.

Apps combine what you care about with what makes someone else money

Not every notification is bullshit. I really want to know when my boss calls my name on Slack, when a friend on the Internet tweets me, when my calendar says it’s time to go to the dentist. But it’s so hard to separate what matters from everything that doesn’t matter.

I told my Twitter app not to send notifications when someone likes a tweet, retweets me, or follows me; it is not urgent. (Although I love seeing the answers, so I allow them.) But when I use the app or, there is always an icon on the little bell icon telling me that there is something here if you click on it . These are almost always likes and retweets, although I said on Twitter that I didn’t care. They just want me to notice the little icon and click. The little thing that worries me has to do with a lot of things that I don’t need.

This bundle is not beneficial to me; it benefits Twitter because it keeps me chatting about the app. Social media companies make money from advertising , adding ads, and promoted posts to your feed. Their business model is pretty obvious: you’ll see their ads because they combine them with the things you care about.

Facebook is especially bad at this. I want to see if anyone has answered what I posted and that’s pretty much it. But right now, I have 11 Facebook notifications, and only two of them relate to comments from conversations I participate in. The rest are things on the level of “hey, a friend liked the post in the group in which both of you. … “The Notification Badge Slot Machine is a game that ultimately makes Facebook money, but the information you and I get is hardly helpful and definitely not urgent.

How to get out of the notification hole

Tired of being manipulated? This is America of 2018, so every step you take is monetized. I cannot put an end to this. But I can show you how to get fewer garbage notifications.

First, you need to come to terms with which of your notifications are junk. The real answer is almost all of them , but I know that when you start turning them off, you will be thinking about the dopamine release that you get when you see some favorite app’s notifications. Stop! Don’t base your judgment on how the notification makes you feel when you see it; base it on what you think of your damn life knowing that this app bothers you 100 times a day.

I recommend this:

  1. Allow text and text messages from real people . For me, this includes Signal, Facebook Messenger, Twitter DM, and more.
  2. If you check the app frequently, you don’t need its notifications at all . You will see your Instagram Likes the next time you open the app. You will see your emails the next time you check your email.
  3. Nobody needs news notifications . IPhone users, do you realize that many of your Android friends never got news alerts by default? They survived, and so can you. Most likely, you learned about the news in some other way (see Rule # 2). If you’re worried about missing the hottest topic of the day, use Nuzzel to notify you when 15 of your friends share the same link.
  4. Disable all icons . In your settings, prevent applications from placing a small icon with a red number on their icons. If there are one or two apps that you want to use more , only allow these icons .
  5. Get in the habit of saying no . When you install a new app, it wants to send you notifications. Say no. Chances are, most of these notifications will simply say, “You haven’t used this app lately!” If there is a task that you really want to be reminded of, such as exercising or recording what you ate, set yourself a reminder . Don’t trust the app. You know it’s not in your best interest.
  6. Use websites, not desktop apps . Installing an app on the desktop often gives you direct access to system-level notifications. If you are using (say) Slack in a browser tab, you can close that tab whenever you want to focus. You can also create home screen shortcuts for mobile websites instead of installing apps.
  7. Schedule a time without notifications . If you’re using Slack for work, tell him to snooze notifications from the minute you leave the office until the latest you can arrive. (Waking up early sometimes? See Rule # 2).

It will take some tweaking to keep the number of notifications to a minimum. For example, you will need to go to the Twitter app to allow him access to the DM and nothing else. Email is even more complicated; you may need to tweak some filters in Gmail to ensure that the contents of your “priority mailbox” are really prioritized. I’ve gotten to setting up a new email address for only really important emails, and now my regular email accounts forward certain messages to that address. Now I have notifications enabled for this account only and disabled for everything else.

But if possible, it’s best to block notifications at the system level so that the app doesn’t surprise you with a new type of notification the next time a developer decides it needs more of your attention. On both Android and iPhone, you can block app notifications right from the notification itself.

If notifications are turned off, you may feel lonely. You can start opening apps to see if there are new replies or likes. When you notice yourself doing this, stop! Ask yourself, what do I really want right now? Is this human contact? Hug the kids or text a true real-life friend. Entertainment? Pick a book or movie before picking up your phone. With practice and intent, you can struggle with app design and use your phone for your own purposes.

If you have a healthy relationship with your phone, you may even be able to ditch it from time to time. I’m not there, but I’m getting closer.

For example, I pick up my phone when I’m running or kayaking, but I switch it to airplane mode so as not to be distracted by notifications – just reading texts at home doesn’t mean that I want them to ping me when I’m in the middle of a lake. …

The other day I was solving puzzles with my daughter when my husband left the house with our other children. I set my phone up to charge in another room, but I thought: what if he needs to contact me in case of emergency? I dug into the fog of childhood memories to remember what we did before the notifications, before we wrote the text messages. I told him to call me back if anything important came up, and I put the phone on do not disturb, knowing that my settings would always allow his calls to go through. As in the old days, I left the phone plugged into the wall and turned on the ringer.


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