We need to talk about this game-changing new tool on Facebook and Instagram

Posted by
Hannah-Rose Yee
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This new addition to the platforms will either boost your productivity or terrify you. Or both

We’ve all been there.

In the middle of the afternoon slump, at a loss as to how to progress with the particular task we’re working on, so we absent-mindedly reach for our phones. Before we know it, either Instagram or Facebook has launched and we’re powerless against the pull of the scroll.

But just how much time we’re spending – wasting? – on social media is about to be laid bare, with Facebook and Instagram launching a new feature today that allows users to discover their own personal bests on the platform.

A new activity dashboard will tell you the average time and the – deep breaths – daily time period you’ve spent on each app over the past seven days. You can set yourself limits for daily app consumption and install a reminder for when you’ve exceeded that limit. 

The dashboard will look a little something like this, and will tell you with terrifying accuracy how much time you’re spending on the platform. 

You can also now mute your notifications for a period of time if you want to stop the barrage of information about your best friend’s cousin’s school mate’s summer holiday in Mallorca.

Great! Fantastic. This is good news for our productivity, our sanity and our reliance on social media.

But… It’s also just a tiny bit terrifying. I’m not sure about you, but I don’t want to find out how long I spend on Instagram every day. I don’t need to know that I’m spending, say, a fifth of my day on social media. I’d rather not know that I’m whiling away hours and hours on Facebook watching videos of Nicole Kidman’s best red carpet moments, quite frankly. It might shock me to my core.

The idea behind these productivity tools, according to Michelle Napchan, the head of public policy at Instagram, is to put power back into the user’s hands. Having data about your usage will empower you to craft a user experience that works best for you. You can tell yourself when enough is enough, for example, whereas before we were all scrolling away in blissful ignorance.

A notification telling you that you have exceeded your daily activity level on Instagram

You can now tell Instagram when you need a reminder to stop scrolling. 

It makes sense, and still, I don’t want to find out. 

It’s enough for me that there’ll be a dashboard that knows exactly how much time I’m spending looking at Gary Janetti’s hilarious Instagram account dedicated to memes about Prince George.

Just knowing that there’s a dashboard will force me to self-regulate. I think. Now let me open up Instagram to see if it’s there yet. 

Images: Unsplash, Supplied