Tag Archives: instagram

Fixing my Social Media Problems

September 14, 2020

Culture and Society / Roque Recommends

In a recent post, I discussed a few of the struggles I am having with social media. In addition to the dystopian data-mining that global conglomerates like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram carry out, they take up valuable time from my life and important mental space in my brain that all need to go toward bigger priorities. I’ve had time to think about what to do about all of this, and now, I have a plan.

My first impulse was to quit all social media completely. The two primary reasons against this are the connections I keep with dear friends and family all over the world through social media and the free promotion I can utilize for my films, music, and other creative projects.

So if quitting them entirely is not an option, I did some research, and I’ve devised a plan that I am calling Social Media Subterfuge (SMS). It is a strategy that allows me to utilize the benefits of social media that suite my needs while avoiding their addictive and negative impacts on my time and mental/emotional wellbeing.

Here’s my plan:

SMS Tactic #1: Advanced Post Scheduling

It is actually not sustainable to post on social media in real time. You have to break from whatever you are doing and active posting keeps you inside the walls of the social media ecosystem (which keeps the powers that be in control). Through the use of a service I’ve found called Planoly, I will be scheduling my posts in large batches far in advance as much as possible on all social media. (There are actually many services to choose from now depending on your personal and business needs. Find one that works for you.) Eventually, I will go about my day while this service does all of my posting for me.

SMS Tactic #2: Remove or log out of Social Media apps on my mobile phone.

I have removed Facebook from my phone. The only social media app that I have left is Instagram, and I stay logged out when not in use. Most of the engagement now happens on my laptop at a specific time.

SMS Tactic #3: Leave my phone in another room at all times.

When my phone is near me, it feels like an appendage of my body and the inclination to fire it up becomes second nature. I cannot allow this to continue. It wastes time and keeps me distracted from the many other tasks that need attention. My phone sits and gets charged in separate and distant areas away from where I do my work.

SMS Tactic #4: I stay on social media on my laptop computer for a half hour in the mornings and do not look again for the rest of the day.

After my morning walk, I spend time checking Facebook and Instagram. I go through as quickly as possible and check in with specific people to see how they are doing. I may respond to their posts with a “like” or a comment and then move on. After all of this, I am done with social media for the day.

SMS Tactic #5: Disable all notifications.

I do not need to know how many people liked my posts and who they were at all times. That little red badge with the number is designed to give you a small but not inconsequential dopamine fix. The sense of affirmation that one gets from likes is so alluring and addictive. I am learning how to live without getting this fix. Resisting the pull of social media in any way possible is a good start.

I’ve carried out all of these tactics now for the better part of the last three weeks, and I am loving the results. Here are some of the benefits I’ve found:

  • I literally have more time for everything else. It’s kind of shocking how much time I have freed up when my default activity for every spare moment does not involve staring at my phone. I’ve finished reading 6 books in the last 4 weeks, and I’ve been consistently getting exercise every day. Cool huh?

  • My days are calmer and more free flowing. Social media tends to be a negative space fraught with posts in which people air out their frustrations and anxieties. I have been able to free up mental space in my head for my creative work and the actual needs in my daily life without dealing with all of that.

  • I’ve been able to take more control over my life. With more time and space in my head, I’ve been able to organize other aspects of my life such as my workflow with my films, my musical pursuits, and self-care. Social media has often thrown a wrench into my plans and taken me off course. Instead of practicing on my ukulele for example, I’d waste an hour scrolling on my IG feed. That will happen no more.

  • I have the satisfaction of knowing that a corporation is not taking over my life.
    Peace of mind is such a rich and delicate gift. I cannot let the powers that be at Facebook get the better of me. They want me to patronize their advertisers. They want to know what I like and sell that information to advertisers. They want to control what I see on my feed. They want to take up as much of my time as they can get. Well, no thank you. I want the peace of mind that autonomy can give.

I cannot say, dear reader, that I will be perfect in these SMS pursuits, but so far so good. I will still get what I need out of social media while safeguarding my time and mental wellbeing. The greatest challenge has been getting used to not constantly looking at my phone and firing up IG or FB. When I feel that inclination (which is more often than I care to admit), I simply put my hands down, sit still, and let my mind wander toward something else.

I will keep you all posted on how I am doing with this, and I may make a short film about it for my Youtube channel. If you have any experience and insights in these matters, please share them in the comments or on social media. (Just know that I may not respond immediately.)

However you are spending your time, I hope you are doing something important and meaningful to you. I hope you are fully steering your own ship and that no other encroaching and unwelcome entity has any say in the matter.

Do Not Get Your News From Social Media

February 9, 2020

Culture and Society

During the last presidential election cycle here in the United States, it has been confirmed by several reputable news sources and government agencies that Russia tampered with our election. I do not know the full extent to which they did this, but one of the more notable ways was through social media.

This sounds like it came out of an espionage novel, but the truth can be as nefarious as fiction. Russian operatives created fake news sites and blasted Facebook and Twitter with stories that were aimed to dis-inform the general public with slightly skewed or blatantly false information. These stories and headlines were often shared and discussed by users of social media, and with enough time and replication, the perspectives of millions of people were influenced.

Now in 2020, we are approaching the apex of another presidential election cycle. If we do not learn from our mistakes of the past, we are woefully doomed to repeat them.

I have taken the following simple steps to avoid reading news on social media (These apply toward whichever poison you prefer be it Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram).

  • Limit time spent on social media.

    This is the first line of defense if you know in your soul that you cannot live without being on sites like Twitter and Instagram. The less time you spend on these sites, the smaller the likelihood that you will click on the sensational headlines that your friends share. It’s not likely that your friends are vetting the sources of these stories or the websites they came from, however benign your friends may be.

    Avoiding social media as much as possible will significantly minimize the possibility of disinformation spreading to your brain. Try limiting use to a specific time of day for only an hour. Leave your phone somewhere hard to reach. Do whatever it takes. It’s also likely that you’ll find something better to do with your time.

  • Be discerning about what you click and read on social media

    It’s one thing to read and comment on a personal story or anecdote that a friend shares. It is another thing entirely to click on the news links people display. Not only can these websites provide false or misleading information, but they can also have malware that can get into your computer. (Again, this sounds crazy, but the technology exists.) You do not have to click on any news headlines at all, but if you have to, proceed with caution and a questioning disposition.

    I find it much more useful to connect with friends about their lives than to discuss political opinions and news. That is the filter that I use to navigate through my feeds.

  • Use legitimate sources outside of social media to get your news.

    As the previous election demonstrates, the algorithms and technology behind social media cannot be trusted. When I disengage from the addictive cult fashioned by Mark Zuckerburg and other powers that be, I seek out actual news sites for detailed information and varying perspectives. This sounds like more effort, but that’s a small price to pay to avoid the mind control that social media seems to be intent on weaponizing.

Incidentally, here is a list of news sites that I like to frequent. Have a look if you are curious, and to make it more convenient, create a folder on your web browser’s “Favorites” list to house them all for easy access. (If you do not like any of these, proceed with caution and skepticism to find others.)

This year’s presidential election will be fraught with drama and noisy divisiveness. It will be more important than ever to be clearheaded and focused on the platforms of different candidates and how you feel about them.

Stay engaged and informed, and please, do not get your news from social media.


My Digital Minimalism Journey

July 28, 2019

Culture and Society

Most people who know me understand that I have quite a lot of interests. I love to read books and play music (with three completely different instruments no less). I also enjoy writing (poetry, songs, short stories, screenplays, and blog posts), photography, and design. Currently, I am in college getting an undergraduate degree in Video and Film Production.

I also love cuddling with my cat, going on long walks, and riding my bicycle. As much as I can, I keep up with friends and other creative folks with whom I make lots of art. My life is full and filled with joyful geekery.

However, over the last couple of years, I’ve felt a drain on my system.

I noticed that I’ve been spending a lot of time on my phone and on my computer looking at Instagram, Youtube, and Netflix. I’ve spent so much time on these platforms that other parts of my life have been affected. I do not exercise as much or actually engage in conversations and hang-outs with the people I love as often as I used to.

Before all of this gets out of control, I have decided to do something about it.

Here, with bullet points (because I LOVE bullet points), are the steps I am taking:

  • Remove all social media and any useless apps from my cell phone (except Instagram which is only fully accessible on a smart phone, but I have moved its icon to a distant folder where it is harder to access and not visible).
  • Reducing my social media engagement by only publishing posts related to this blog and my weekly updates/reviews/reflections at my personal site www.roqueinbloom.com.
  • Reserve only 20 minutes each morning to catch up with a select number of friends on Instagram and Facebook.
  • Set up all of my IG and FB posts in advance as much as possible.
  • Cancel my Netflix subscription. Yup, this is a tough one, but since school starts back up in a month, this is an addiction I can truly do without. (I’m gonna watch a couple of movies soon before I do this as a small farewell.)
  • Remove all of my original art and content from Instagram. As long as I am decluttering, why should I let a massive, Facebook-owned, algorithm benefit from displaying my work. The app has not delivered any of the exposure that I would have liked, so no thanks. (You might notice that my photos are mysteriously disappearing lately. Enjoy them while they last.) I am focusing all of my art, films, and music on my own websites. (Facebook is a different matter altogether. I’m still figuring that out.)

What do I hope to get out of this for myself? Bullet points please . . .

  • More time to doing activities that bring me joy such as playing music, long walks by myself, and conversations with loved ones.
  • Less time watching other people living their best lives. When I scroll through Instagram, I see lots of filtered images full of people doing amazing things. They travel and eat delicious food. Smile blissfully and wear fantastic clothes. I am happy for them, but if I spend hours consuming so much of that fun, then my life evolves into being a zombie spectator. Seriously, no thanks. I have to actively live my own best life.
  • I will be more engaged with people in actual, face-to-face interactions. Pressing a “Like” button can only say so much. I often have far more to say.
  • As an artist, I want to create. Aimlessly thumbing through a feed for hours does not a creator make.

Do not get me wrong. Digital devices and social media platforms are not necessarily evil in and of themselves (sort of). I do believe that they are incredibly sophisticated in the ways that they absorb a user’s attention and become easily addictive. As such, it is my responsibility to be hyper-vigilant and massively discerning about how I traverse through our inescapable digital landscape.

I understand that cell phones and computers are part of a modern way of living now, but I ABSOLUTELY CANNOT let them control my life and call the shots.

No. Just no.

I have been gifted with this one life I have, and I will not be a slave to the nefarious corporations of the world. (I’m looking at you Facebook.)

I’m going to play my ukulele now on my front deck and hope my cat is nearby.

I will take in each moment as the gift that it is. Fully mine for the taking, free of digital distractions and free to live my own life.


BLOG BONUS: If you are interested in Digital Minimalism, I HIGHLY recommend reading the book Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World by one of my favorite writers Cal Newport. Click HERE to check it out.

Fight the Power of Social Media

June 22, 2019

Culture and Society

What I have been doing lately may be subtle or even inconsequential, but I have been taking  small steps to fight the power of social media. Earlier this week, news was released about a company called Cambridge Analytica that compromised the personal data of close to 50 million facebook users in order to influence the 2016 presidential election. This is only one egregious abuse of access that large corporations and private entities are granted by social media companies, but it is a significant one–one of possibly countless others that are occurring without our knowledge or consent.

These kinds of invasions are compounded by the use of algorithms and powerful data analysis tools that comb through millions of our posts, hashtags, and photos in order to hone in on our sensibilities, personal tastes, and behavioral patterns. This information essentially becomes valuable fodder for businesses and corporations to use to target prospective customers. These entities can design marketing campaigns based upon vast amounts of social media information that we are freely handing over to them through our daily engagement.

This feels like a subtle form of surveillance and, ultimately, mind control that influences our decisions and inclinations.

Ok then, what can be done about this? Since social media and its encroaching power are relatively new phenomena, there does not appear to be a fail-safe way to guard oneself against it without completely disengaging. This does not mean that we should not try.

Here are some simple safeguards that I have implemented that guide my social media usage:

  • NEVER post personal information such as your street address, the name of the company you work for, phone number, or any other identifying information that could be used against you.
  • LIMIT your use of social media as much as you can. I have removed facebook and facebook messenger from my cell phone. I only check facebook on my internet browser when I am on my laptop. Otherwise, just use social media less. Maybe only allow yourself one-half hour of engagement per day? The less engaged you are, the less free information about your life that you are giving to the world.
  • CHOOSE one social media site to focus your output. These days, I primarily use Instagram because I love that its engagement is centered on photos and captions. As a creative person, this interface is simple and ideal. I have my instagram account set up so that it also posts on facebook and twitter simultaneously without having to visit those other sites. If facebook or twitter suits your needs better, than go with either of those. The smaller your window to the world, the less accessible you and your information can be.
  • UNDERSTAND how addictive social media is. These sites are designed to translate your usage into a formula that engages your attention for as long and as often as possible. Be aware of this and let this knowledge inform your behavior.
  • DESIGN posts that convey your vision of the world and your values instead of giving too personal a glimpse into your life. For example, do not post a photo of the front your house. Instead, post a photo of a flower that you grew in your garden. Do not post about the gifts you received for Christmas. Instead, write about the quality time you had with family and how it made you feel. Think about the message and the energy you want to put out into the world. You should dictate your own conversation, not the other way around.
  • DO NOT USE HASHTAGS, but if you have to, use them sparingly and know that they are like little lighthouses that attract companies who want to sell you products that relate to the ideas you espouse.  Again, this relates to how you want to portray your personal life on social media. Take control of the information and proceed with caution.
  • BUILD YOUR OWN PLATFORM. What I am doing with my website roqueinbloom.com and this blog is using my own platform to share ideas about my life, my ideals, and my activities.  This personal space on the internet exists without some multi-national corporation or foreign government mining my data.  Sure, hundreds of my friends and colleagues from facebook may probably never visit my website, but the friends who will are the only ones that truly matter. (Of course, I also have the ability to post links on social media back to my blog and website every week, thereby using social media to my own personal advantage.)

This is just a small handful of steps I have been thinking about and taking toward my ongoing social media usage. These will not be the only steps I take, and I will be posting more of my ideas surrounding social media and internet usage.

At the very least, I want to invite you to think about how you engage with social media.  Understand how addictive it is and how it can use all that you post and disclose for or against you without your consent.

Either way, it’s up to you how much of your own power and privacy you want to surrender.