Sat. Nov 26th, 2022

About a month ago, I spent a few hours self-assessing my life. I didn’t sleep well, which was a huge problem since I didn’t get much sleep anyway. Usually I can overcome a lack of quantity by improving quality, but when both are bad, I find myself in a very difficult position.

It seemed to me that I have sooooo many things to do and I have a lot of time for this. Something had to give. Surviving it for a few days is one thing (like a week before a Kickstarter launch), but I’ve been in this situation for a few months now. It was not good for my family, or for my mind, or for my health.

But when I appreciated everything, I realized that in fact it is not a problem of time. The time was there. It was a problem with energy and attention.

My time was well spent. Like there was a hole in my watch.

The great algorithm gods in the sky must have known about my struggle as YouTube started recommending a lot of videos related to this issue. Writers, biologists, psychologists, professors, and former Facebook employees have all posted content with a central message: the current state of social media is a problem.

Platforms that were originally meant to keep people connected have become much better at keeping us apart. The algorithms that used to show us what we care about the most have been changed to show us what holds our attention the longest.

Companies have spent billions of dollars figuring out how to get us to spend as much time as possible watching their news feeds. The more time we spend scrolling, the more money they make and the less time we spend on the really valuable stuff.

After carefully studying my time, I realized that I was wasting a ridiculous part of it scrolling. I sat down for food and scrolled. I rocked my son on a swing and scrolled. I waited for my wife to get ready for the date and scrolled through. I was editing the podcast and scrolling. I took a “two minute” break from working on something worthwhile, and after thirty minutes I realized that I had been scrolling all this time. I sat on the toilet and scrolled until my legs were numb.

It had to stop.

Not that scrolling improved my life in any way, and one could easily argue that it made things worse.

And while I didn’t waste time getting into useless political debates or jumping aboard the latest outrage train, I watched them unfold. And I think there are many of us. Several studies have shown that the vast majority of social media posts come from a very small minority of users. It’s like a car accident on the side of a highway. Most of us have enough common sense to drive around it, but we certainly spend a lot of time looking at the carnage as we drive by.

And in the same way that a rubber neck slows us down on the highway, scrolling through the news feed reduces our productivity to near zero.

Realizing how much of my attention was spent on scrolling, I unlocked my phone and started deleting social media apps from my phone. But when I started the process and watched the app icons dance across the screen, I hesitated.

I wasn’t sure if I could do it. What were the consequences of removing these things from my life? Did I really want to? If I remove the scapegoat for wasting my time, am I prepared to take the blame on myself in the future?

First I uninstalled the Twitter app. It wasn’t a particularly difficult decision because I hate Twitter and I didn’t spend much time on it anyway. But when my finger hovered over Facebook, I paused for a moment.

I thought about all the good things about Facebook and especially the BGDL Facebook community. It’s basically the only place I write and comment on, and it’s full of almost 9,000 people trying to do what I do – making great games that people love.

I closed the phone. I needed a plan.

I didn’t need to remove Facebook from my life. I needed to control it and make it work for me.

I made a few notes:

-Remove the Facebook app from my phone.
-Watch what is happening in the BGDL group 2-3 times a day, but only from my laptop.
– Avoid scrolling through the news feed at all costs.

And about a month ago, I started doing just that, and life certainly didn’t get worse.

Instead of scrolling through the page, I now spend more time talking to the people I care about. My productivity has skyrocketed and I get more done in less time. My kids don’t have to pull on my shirt for me to take my eyes off the phone and pay attention to them. I am more active in the BGDL group because my time is more focused and focused. I read more. I write more. I sleep better.

Will something like this work for you? May be. I’m not advocating any “correct” lifestyle here, and your mileage may vary. But it definitely worked for me.

Looking for a better way

A little over a year ago, I started brainstorming what it would look like to create a website that the BGDL community could live on. The Facebook group was gaining momentum, but even then I was well aware of the limitations and shortcomings of the platform.

I wanted a site with all the best parts of the Facebook community, while stripping away the worst.

I wanted a hangout for game designers that was created for us and by us.

I needed a platform that would help designers create great games that people love.

I wanted courses to help people grow as designers.

I wanted the forums to ask questions.

I wanted a calendar to organize Kickstarter launches, conventions, and testing events.

I wanted to create a message board for freelancers to find opportunities and for publishers to find great people to work with.

I wanted a blog where people could post articles and design diaries.

I wanted people to be able to create groups and subgroups around activities and their projects.

I wanted to find a way to keep track of game development time.

I wanted a random game idea generator.

I wanted monthly design tasks.

I wanted an incredible mobile experience.

And I wanted the news feed to work for us, not against us.

No algorithms. No collecting data and selling it to the highest bidder. No drunk guys.

And after a year of huge work, BGDL+ is almost ready.

Is this the ideal solution? No. But I hope you will join me in looking for a platform that offers a better way.

Even with all these features, this is just the first floor and I’m very excited about what’s ahead.

Thanks for the great community and I can’t wait to share BGDL+ with you soon!

The post “Why did I delete social networks from my phone” first appeared in the Board Game Design Lab.