In a great essay at The Atlantic, Alexis C. Madrigal compared browsing Facebook to gambling addiction, showing how the site sucks you into “The Machine Zone”— mindlessly shuffling through pictures.
Below, we’ve highlighted five apps that you can check instead of Facebook, actually reading or learning something the next time you need a digital fix. Here’s more from the article:
What Facebook and slot machines share is the ability to provide fast feedback to simple actions; they deliver tiny rewards on an imperfectly predictable “payout” schedule. These are coercive loops, distorting whatever the original intention of the user was. What began as “See a picture of person X” becomes “keep seeing more pictures.” The mechanism itself becomes the point.
5 Apps To Replace Mindless Facebook or Twitter Browsing
1. Kindle, Nook or iBooks App: You should ALWAYS have a book open in one of these apps on your device, working your way through a good book instead of reading addictive status updates.
2. Pocket app: Save stories you started online and finish them on your smartphone.
3. Alien Blue: This simple app lets you browse Reddit on your smartphone or tablet. An easy way to check news, world news or technology news whenever you want in the same addictive format as Facebook or Twitter.
4. Dragon Dictation: Instead of mindlessly shuffling, try dictating a story, blog post or letter to a friend using this app. It will transcribe your speech into digital text you can save.
5. Start a diary: Using one of these 50 apps, you can keep a diary on your device, saving your life stories instead of wasting time.
(Image via Mihail Kozuharov)