October 16, 2021

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We’re All Working Longer Hours. Social Media Isn’t Helping

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, SEO, Wordpress Support & Insurance, Mortgage, Loans, Legal, Etc Blogs
, SEO, Wordpress Support & Insurance, Mortgage, Loans, Legal, Etc Blogs
, SEO, Wordpress Support & Insurance, Mortgage, Loans, Legal, Etc Blogs

I had a long conversation with an editor over LinkedIn the other day.

It was productive and enlightening, full of insights into my workflow and helpful in terms of knowing some of the upcoming topics that make sense for me to cover. I enjoyed sharing a few comments about my upcoming book, and how that labor of love is debuting soon. We even chatted about his kids and their soccer games coming up.

There was only one problem.

It was later at night, long after supper and during a football match I really wanted to watch. I don’t regret having the conversation, but I do regret when it took place.

According to a new study by Microsoft, it turns out I’m not the only one working harder than I ever imagined, especially during this strange remote work period. Because we have easy access to technology, phones, online tools, and laptops it means we tend to use them even more.

The study found that we’re working about 10% more on average. That means, in my case, I’m clocking in after hours and during football games.

The allure of social media is partly to blame. I’m a major fan of LinkedIn. Of all the social media platforms, it seems the least addictive. I like all of the talking head videos as much as anyone else, but this network caters to a more serious crowd. And it caters to a crowd that is hopefully logged out a bit more and not posting birthday parties photos all day.

Still, the chat is always a click away. I have the LinkedIn app installed on my phone, but I have been considering whether that is really the smartest idea in the world.

Allure is an interesting word. As someone who likes to fish, I’ve noticed part of that word includes “lure” (which means to attract). Alluring technically means finding fascination. Are we really finding it though? Obsessive social media use is alluring because we never obtain anything. The “lure” keeps moving suspiciously out of range. We can’t quite ever obtain it, which is the entire point. What is alluring is always elusive. As the lure shifts away from us we keep pursuing it.

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To take the analogy further: Companies like Facebook are fishing for you, but they never want to catch you. Catching means providing a final product. The goal is always to attract and hold the prize just inches away at all times.

From a scientific standpoint, social media companies also know things that are alluring play on a portion of the brain called the salience network that helps us determine what is worth focusing on. Of course, we think the LinkedIn chat is important, especially if it’s a boss or coworker.

We attune to what is alluring, and we tune out the things that seem trivial. At night, we are not as equipped to throttle our attention, and social media plays into that dynamic.

That chat tool is easy to find and use, and we’re convinced it can lead to good productivity, but it’s an illusion of work.

Part of the issue is that it might not be real work at all. It might be a waste of time, or at least so time-consuming that there would be a much better way to communicate (say, by making a phone call or emailing someone).

We crave accomplishment, though. We work more because we want to accomplish more. That extra 10% we’re working? It might actually slow us down and make us achieve less in the day, not more. At least, we might miss out on the best type of work.

The secret, as always, is to use these incredible digital tools in a way that is productive and is intentional.

We can win this battle. We just need the salience network to work in our favor. And maybe a more radical approach like deleting a few of the apps.

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