For those of us who’ve subscribed to social media sites like, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram—Wait. Hold on, I need to pause this. I just got a notification, lemme check it really quickly. Just a sec.
Sorry about that.
For those of us who’ve subscribed to social media sites like, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, we’ve inadvertently made ourselves slave to hourly alerts and notifications. Social Media has become a constant, almost invisible part of our lives. That Facebook alert reminding you that it’s Bob’s birthday today, pulls you right out of an activity, whether it be homework, chores or spending time with friends/family.
As reported on the Techcrunch Website, Ximena Vengoechea explains why phone users are so quick to click on notifications, also known as “triggers” and reveals tactics used to lure users into swiping right on the small icon on our lock screen.
He then goes on to define the two types of triggers as being, external and internal. External triggers, he says, prompts you to engage in the outside environment. While this may sound positive, like something our mothers would say about shutting off our devices and playing outside, it merely requires you to engage in your environment, through your app.
Internal triggers are more so related to our personal emotions and needs, carefully tailored to provide instant gratification to our most basic emotions and through continuous use of such apps and notifications, a habit is formed.
With regards to instant gratification, Techcrunch.com evaluates of the ability of a notification to provide this and the simple response is, “Good triggers prompt action, while vague or irrelevant messages annoy users.”
So what are the social media diets of the SLA community?
When asked how much he spends on social media, per day, Mr. Todd responded, “Does Netflix count?”
Ms. Pahomov shared, “I don’t watch television, but if I do, it’s streaming television. An hour every few days, every 2-3 days, not every day.”
Sophomore Indee Phillpotts, added “I think they’re distracting, I could totally get a lot of stuff done. I could create world peace, but you know, Instagram’s calling.”
Some of us have visited the “notifications” category under “settings” to eliminate unnecessary distractions.
Mr. Todd explained his reasoning, “I think a tendency is that people become so consumed with staring at their phone that they miss opportunities to interact on a personal level. Ms. Pahomov added, “I think the danger, and I even see this with myself, is the feeling that you have to respond immediately, and that constant ringing of your attention.”
When asked if she turned her notifications off, Pahomov responded, “I never even turned them on. I’ve only had a smartphone for about a year, and when I got it, I immediately resolved not to have push notifications on my phone.” Mr. Todd explained, “I don’t like to feel bothered, I don’t like to feel tethered to my phone.” And said that his notifications are, “probably half sports related, half Facebook.”
Many SLA students have expressed contempt for the notification icon. Kia Dasilva, sophomore, said, “If I’m with my family, I’ll ignore them, but if I’m on my own, I really don’t like the little red button that shows up, so I’ll click on it to get rid of it.”
Mark Gucciardi-Kriegh, sophomore, shared a similar concern, “I don’t know if I click the notification to see what it says, or because I don’t want that red bubble thingy.” Phillpotts agreed, “Oh I hate that, too!”
Myi Harte, sophomore, offered a slightly more optimistic approach to the mass of notifications the typical smartphone user receives. “I don’t find them annoying.” He said. Without notifications, he explained, “I wouldn’t be in the know.” But Harte admitted, “It’s taking over my life. Slowly.”
Dasilva agreed, “I like to be notified when something around me is happening,” but confessed, “I subscribe to a lot more than I use.”
In our own SLA, I noticed a trend that is mirrored in our community outside of SLA, and that is, generational differences.
Ms. Pahomov and Mr. Todd, were both involved in social media as teenagers, Ms. Pahomov used Friendster and for Mr. Todd, AOL and Instant Messenger. Though, Ms. Pahomov said that if she had been exposed to social media as a teen, the ways teens are today, “I might have been less likely to set up a barrier for myself.”
Though everyone has a different social media diet, the students and teachers I spoke with all agreed that social media notifications can be a positive thing. Pahomov said, “They’re a reinforcement of the fact that you’re connected.” She also suggested an interesting idea for an educational app: “I could see a neat one, where there’s a history or culture based app, and if you went somewhere around the city it would pop up and tell you some neat fact.”
Mr. Todd offered a more general idea: “I think they engender more engagement, whether it’s knowing what’s happening globally, or interests that you have.”
On the other hand, Gucciardi-Kriegh explained how the negative influence of social media can be positive thing. “I think it’s a good thing that kids grow up around social media, because they learn not to fully invest themselves in what they have. Kids that grow up around it know how to manage what they’re doing.”
But what about the useless notifications? The ones we never click on, the buzzes that send our hopes up, only to realize it’s another advertisement for a free month trial on Pandora. It may prove useful to ask yourself why you’ve even downloaded the app, especially because according to Pandodaily, “22% of downloaded apps are only used once.”
I encourage you to assess the importance of your notifications. If CNN alerts help you stay on top of the news, keep it, but if you’re tired of being notified of Katy Perry’s most recent tweets, or you feel that it’s too distracting, the simple solution, turn them off.
image courtesy of forbes.com