I have an account on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Reddit, and many more, but I don’t use them actively or passively. Maybe the occasional browsing.
On facebook I made it a point to unfollow all friends so that my newsfeed is blank at any point of time. When I did this initially around 2013, I felt.. weird. But I got used to it and now I visit once in a while for the facebook groups. After that I don’t end up spending time on FB. For quora after I blocked a majority of tags/topics, the feed was cleaner, but it got boring to be a passive consumer. Similarly for Twitter, I blocked a lot of topics/tags/people and followed a certain few which has made it easier to scroll twitter once in a while.
I have an app (StayFree) on android which calculates the time spent on each app. When I see it now for the last 7 months, I see I have used it for 185 hours, of which 40 hours are on reddit. With whatsapp at 11 hours, the rest of the apps are below 8 hours of usage. I also have trackercontrol which blocks the trackers in my phone. In my browser I have ActivityWatch which shows HN is my most visited apart from the occasional reddit.
For me, the benefits from being part of these social media sites comes after investing the time to filter and refine my experience. That does take time. Overall I feel my experience with social media has been better, I’m able to interact with people around the world and learn and ask questions. I don’t know if I’ve turned these evil entities into productive tools.
Having said that, I do wonder whether having an account on these social media sites / apps on phone is harmful in any way if I don’t consume it? If yes then what sort of harm does it have? What sort of evil happens if tracking my account gives these companies nothing but close to 0 activity?
One challenge I face with many different websites/platforms is fragmentation of communities and discussions. Losing context and/or keeping in touch with communities across sites is something that I am yet to figure out.
Overall, I feel my usage has reduced over the years, except for HN and Reddit. Hopefully it stays that way further down my life as well. 😊