Zia Hassan

Youre All Caught Up

This is the message we sometimes get when we’ve reached the end of our latest updates on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. When I first saw this in my feed, I thought that the creators of these networks were trying to do some good. To let me know that it’s okay to stop scrolling and to close the browser window the play in the physical world for a while.

But after my social media fast last month, I’ve realized that it’s quite the opposite. And the way in which this is actually a manipulation tactic is clear from the words I use to explain it above: “they let me know it’s okay to stop scrolling…”

In other words, these kinds of notifications are there to grant me permission to stop scrolling. How terrifying that we have become so hypnotized by our social media apps that we defer permission to them in order to know when it’s time to stop.

Here’s how to know when it’s time to stop. It’s not when you’re “all caught up” on your social media. It’s when you’re “all caught up” on everything else that is important to you. The kids, the dishes, sex with your partner, enjoying a summer breeze and a whiskey, traveling through time in an immersive video game… whatever provides joy, and is an intentional choice, compared to the mindless slot machine that is social media.

Of course, the secret is that once you’re all caught up on everything else, you don’t need digital slot machines.

You’ve already hit the jackpot.