You don’t have to make excuses for your procrastination on a workday – we already know whose fault it is: You and your incessant need to check your Facebook News Feed. Yes, no matter how overcrowded it is by overly dramatic people, no matter how much you resent your friends for their photo upload sprees, and no matter how much Facebook is bumming you out – you just can’t help yourselves. Facebook is ingrained into your brain, almost an automatic bodily function. So much so that a couple of PhD candidates from MIT have created a device to help hopeless social networking die-hards gain control over their senses. Introducing, the Pavlov Poke:
Robert R. Morris and Dan McDuff are the creators of this nifty keyboard accessory that’s designed to shock you every time you try to check your Facebook account too many times. Named after Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov – who is famous for conditioning dogs and their responses by ringing a bell before presenting them food – the system supposedly sends out zaps that are memorable enough that people associate the discomfort with Facebook use, and they end up not wanting to check the social network altogether.
In the video above, McDuff says that the device works by monitoring application usage, and if you use a particular one too much, a shock – don’t worry, it’s not dangerous – will come. Whether it works or not, is probably a case-to-case basis. “To be truly effective, many shock exposures are probably needed,” Morris told TechCrunch. “Proper conditioning procedures should be followed. Sadly, we found the shocks so aversive, we removed the device pretty quickly after installing it. Anecdotally, however, I did notice a significant, though temporary, reduction in my Facebook usage.” They also reportedly created another device designed to curtail Facebook usage even further, this time in the form of a phone call from a stranger yelling at you to quit it.
In the same way that people often succumb to their social media addictions, you can regularly count on them to come up with extreme ways to try and kick their out-of-control online habits. But apart from scheduling occasional device-free days and temporarily disabling your online accounts, there are pretty simple solutions to minimize your social media usage.
Of course in order to be successful at this endeavor, you have to have a firm resolve: You must be 100 percent willing to limit your Facebook visitation rights. Once you’re sure, you can go ahead and do the following:
Create a second Facebook account. Yes this may seem counter-productive considering the goal you are trying to achieve, but go ahead and take a look at your current Facebook profile. Part of the reason why you’re so hopelessly hooked onto the site is because of the number of people you can stalk at once… and you’re not even that interested in all 1,000! This is definitely the quicker alternative to curating your humongous friends list, but here’s an important reminder: Don’t bring everyone over to your new Facebook life. Only tell the people you absolutely want to keep in touch with and check up on regularly onto your second account. This shouldn’t be more than 20 or so, apart from family.
On your second account, you have to be prepared to not have the liberties your first account had, like turning your wall off by changing the “Who can post on your timeline?” setting to Only Me. Another would be to lock down your account’s privacy settings by making everything Friends only. These steps will definitely help lessen your Facebook over-engagement.
Of course, one of the main points of this exercise is to unlearn your habit of oversharing, so don’t plan on posting any status updates, uploading photo albums, or sharing links. Doing so will lessen people’s desire to nag you for input.
And nag you for input, they will…which leads us to our next point: have tagged content visible only to you (in the third section, set the option to Only Me) and make sure you have “Review tags people add to your own posts before the tags appear on Facebook?” enabled.
Don’t forget to lock down your account’s privacy settings. Make sure you check your About page and have everything under the Contact Information set to Only Me. In fact, if you can get away with it, just don’t fill in any contact information. After all, the object of the game is to minimize your contact with Facebook, right?
In order to have a Facebook account, you need to associate it with an email address, so go ahead and create a new one that’s strictly for social media use only. Why? So in case you do want to check on your Facebook friends without actually logging in to the site and getting sucked into the vortex, you can set up your Notification settings to send you an email every time something important is posted on your feed. Make sure you’re not permanently logged into this email address though – this isn’t your primary inbox. Log in only during break time.
Of course, just to be absolutely sure you’ve covered all bases, go ahead and rake your settings. Be diligent and go over every tab, especially the App tab, which is the gateway to a whole slew of games and invites you do not want to get.
There you have it – the most minimal Facebook account you can have, one that will pave the way to lesser use of the site. Of course, this whole exercise is futile if you continually log into your other, overly saturated Facebook account. If you really can’t help it, then maybe you really do need mild electricity shooting up your arm.