Because you were bored, you decided to visit the app store. After a minute of browsing, you find this brand new productivity app that you absolutely need! Or you find this very simple, easy to play and short game everybody’s talking about. Anyway, you download this new app. When you open it, you see this message about allowing push notifications. But you don’t really read it. You just accept, all you really want to do at the moment is to use your new downloaded app! But here it is, without even realising it, in less than a second, you’ve just accepted to receive absolutely pointless notifications that are going to waste your future attention and that are going to make you waste hours of productivity.
Notifications make you waste hours!
How come this little action can have such a dramatic outcome, you may be asking. Well, because notifications are awful. Notifications are what gets you lost in distraction. Notifications are what makes you hooked to an app. That’s exactly why apps want you to enable them. That’s why the first thing an app will ask you is wether or not you want to enable notifications. Because that’s how it makes sure you’ll get back to this app.
How many times a day do you look at your phone because you received a notification? How many times do you end up unlocking your phone after hearing this ringtone or after feeling this vibration in your pocket because ‘Well… My phone is in my hand now, let’s see if there is anything else I need to check’? And how many times do you end up pointlessly scrolling on social media because… Well, you don’t exactly know why anymore, all you know is that it started with a notification, then your phone was unlocked, then you’ve spotted that little ‘1’ red bubble on the Facebook App icon to remind you that some of your friends are interested about a random event in your area, and then you saw this cat video your friend shared and then you replied to this annoying political status your not-so-friend shared and so on…
Notifications trigger our Fear Of Missing Out
Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) is so real. It is so real that it is used by most companies to make sure that we’re hooked about everything they produce. That’s how Facebook came up with, what I call, fake notifications. Facebook sends you notifications even when you don’t have any. Regular notifications involve replies to your comments or some people liking your new awesome profile picture. But when you use Facebook like me, ie. only for messaging and letting people know that you’re alive, you wouldn’t normally get a lot of notifications. Actually, the only kind of notification I receive are usually related to messenger. But guess what? I usually receive, like you, around 10 notifications a day. Facebook just notifies me for things that don’t exist. Facebook reminds me twice a day that it’s the birthday of a Facebook friend I don’t care about, it reminds me that some friends are going to an event that is not even in the area I currently live in, it reminds me that my last post on my page performed better than 95% of my other publications and so on…
Facebook knows that if they send you a push notification, there is a good chance that you’ll end up opening their app and spend time on your newsfeed. That means that there’s a chance you’ll make Facebook earn money when you find an ad on your newsfeed. It’s totally in their interest to make you spend time on their platform.
We’ve learned to love notifications
Notifications were used to let us know what was happening in our network of friends. And because we got used to it so much and because a notification meant that someone liked our picture or replied to a comment we’ve made or whatever, we liked them. We liked them so much because a notification basically meant that someone have thought of us. A notification was basically a small hit of consideration and a positive boost of self-esteem. A notification was basically acting like an actual drug. It was creating this little rush of dopamine in our brains. And during those early years of social media, we slowly and silently got used to notifications, and we totally got hooked.
Nowadays, companies are using this addiction of ours to make us come back to their app several times a day, every day of the week. We’ve associated notifications with a dopamine rush. And now we’re hooked. And we all know that! I keep hearing all day people that keep saying that they’re tired of their non sense Facebook notifications, I keep hearing people that complain about their phone vibrating all the time.
Is there anything we can do about it?
The drastic solution would be to turn off all notifications and to get rid of some toxic apps such as Facebook. Does it work? Yes. It does and I thought that it would drive me insane and that it would make me super anxious all that time. I thought my FOMO would make me go crazy. But it really didn’t. And it had the exact opposite effect. I’m sure you’ve read tons of content about turning off notifications already. If you are like me, you don’t believe that it’s a practical and effective solution.
But believe me, it really is and all the benefits these authors describe are true.
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