Lately, it feels like all of us have developed a more uneasy relationship with social media; our natural (and proper) inclinations towards free speech and free expression of views have been tempered by stories about former Facebook managers describing just how they designed the site to be addictive, or, even worse, Facebook's inadvertent but clear role in facilitating violence against ethnic or social groups, most notably in Myanmar. On Twitter, "doomscrolling" has become a popular term to describe the feeling of constantly searching through feeds, looking for that next hit of information.
Buried somewhere in there are the things that are truly important to us, whether that's connecting with friends and family, exchanging ideas, pursuing hobbies, and even organizing positive social change. As a software engineer, I can point out that there are better platforms out there, but the commercial social networks have democratized access for people whose lives don't revolve around computers. If I want to get the latest from my local bakery or band, the odds are good that I'll find them on Facebook, not on their own website.
And none of these problems are new; I have been dealing with my own insatiable desire for information for a long time. RSS feeds and email newsletters have been a daily part of my life for fifteen years or more now. That's why I'm surprised that among the many articles of late that rightfully express concern about the role these products play in our lives, I have seen little that provides specific, actionable advice on how to help yourself moderate them. Below, I'll offer some practices that I follow. All the tools I mention are free and shouldn't take more than a few minutes to set up.