Using tech to break a tech addiction

Combat the social dilemma with NLP

This week’s post is a bit different. If you like it or hate it, let me know by sending me a Tweet!

Feed the machine

Like many of you, I just watched The Social Delimma and now have an overwhelming desire to run over my iPhone with a truck and replace it with a Nokia.

Not one of the new fancy Nokias, but one of these bad boys:

Nokia 3310, beloved and 'indestructible' mobile phone, 'to be reborn' |  Technology | The Guardian

Even if they’re not extreme enough to switch to brick phones, people are more concerned about their social media these days, as they should be. This technology has drastically changed the behavior of millions, and we’re still trying to adapt.

I genuinely believe social media makes me sad when I use it at the wrong time. How can you focus on your own life when you’re constantly comparing it to someone else’s?

On top of that, I’ve lost my attention span. It’s hard to concentrate on reading or writing when my brain is used to a dopamine shot every time I check Snapchat.

We now have a generation of people who are unhappy with themselves and unable to sustain focus on hard tasks. Gen-Z is shaping up to be one of the most depressed generations yet, with reports of major depression rising 52% among adolescents aged 12-17 in 2017.

We’re still in the process of adapting to this change, and we cannot let things continue as they have.

Like it or hate it, social media is still the best way to spread my ideas around. If the irony doesn’t kill you first, sharing this post would be a big help.

Share Nothing but Words

Beating the addiction without deleting your social media

There’s been a trend recently of “dopamine detox” where people are trying to limit their device time. A good thought, but not always effective.

To me, trying to use less social media is like saying “I’ll only have a little bit of meth today”. It doesn’t work, its too addictive.

So, what do we do? Just delete social media entirely? Maybe, but I think we can do better.

See, there’s a lot of benefits to social media. Let’s take Reddit for example. With a community for every possible niche you can think of, Reddit has tons of useful information. Whether I want to discuss rationalist philosophy or get relationship advice, the people of Reddit are happy to provide.

The problem is, it’s a black hole. In addition to all the “good” posts that make the platform good, there’s also a lot of garbage. Its inevitable that politics and cat memes will creep their way in to distract you, not to mention the fact that the interface itself is built to be addictive.

However, I think there might be a way around this. Maybe there’s a way that we can separate the good parts of social media from the parts that make it addictive. Get rid of the memes and keep the posts that discuss life advice (or the reverse, if you so desire). On top of that, use an interface that isn’t engineered to keep you there as long as possible.

We’ve already discussed how companies are using NLP to process social media data. Dataminr, for instance, scans Twitter for evidence of high-impact events that may be of interest to corporate entities or organizations.

Why don’t we use NLP to scan social media for high quality posts? Instead of being at whim to what “The Algorithm” serves you, lets send the information through a filter. That way, you can see the posts that you need without getting sucked in.

I’ve been looking for something like this to limit my exposure to these apps, while still allowing me to stay informed. Unfortunately, I haven’t found much.

So, what do I do? Build it myself of course.

I have something like this in the works. If I like it, I’ll announce more information later. In the meantime, if this is something you’d want access to, let me know by sending me an email (liam at or a Twitter DM. I’d love to get some opinions.