Tech has become a huge part of most people’s lives. The combination of tech and social media (and other websites) means the potential for a lot of notifications. How do you manage them to keep them from getting overwhelming?
Push vs pull
A lot of sites and apps try to send you push notifications, shoving them in your face. There are so many different ways they want to notify you! You’ve got browser tab and app badge notifications, and more aggressive jump out and slap you in the face notifications.
But just because they want you to (because more eyeball time means more advertiser dollars) doesn’t mean you have to. They can try to tap into your FOMO, but that doesn’t mean you have to let them. Pull notifications, where you go fetch them when you’re so inclined, mean you don’t get notified of something as it happens, but maybe that’s better for our sanity. I like pull notifications; I don’t want to know things as they happen.
In more general terms, I’m good with doing things myself. I don’t want everything in my home to be “smart.” I don’t want an Alexa listening to everything I do. Sure, I know my laptop and phone can listen to everything I do, but I like to pretend that because I’ve turned “hey Siri” off, someone would have to actually take an extra step to listen in, and why bother in the sea of all the devices that already have “hey Siri” turned on.
Given how buggy WP is, or the fact that the megalith that is Facebook/Meta came to a grinding halt, I certainly don’t want my ability to get into my home to be dependent on tech working. But I digress.
I do not want social media pushing notifications on me. I’ve turned them off everywhere I possibly can, including badge notifications, so that I only see them when I’m looking at the app or site.
I can’t stop them from showing me the number of notifications in browser tabs, but Pinterest is the only social site I leave a tab open, and Pinterest doesn’t notify me of anything particularly interesting, so seeing a number there doesn’t entice me to pop over and look at the site. Speaking of Pinterest notifications, they seem to have pretty much stopped altogether over the past week. Their notification system has never made sense, and I doubt it ever will.
Turning off all of the notifications takes some effort, especially on mobile, but I think it’s worth putting in that little bit of effort. A constant barrage of social notifications seems like the kind of thing that could really mess up your head. Stay away, social media, stay away!
I get all my WordPress notifications within the Reader. I don’t want to get emails notifying me of blogging-related things. That would very quickly clog up my inbox, and I don’t want that. I see there are new notifications when the little dot shows up on the little bell icon. That’s as in-my-face as I want it to be, and I like it that way.
I like the notification system within the Reader. My current setup is that I don’t get notifications of most people’s posts, but there are a few people whose posts regularly weren’t showing up in my Reader feed, so I’ve set up Reader notifications of new posts for those specific sites. I find it quick and easy to navigate through my notifications in the Reader, and I prefer that system over the various social media platforms I’m on.
I finally clued in recently on muting conversations in Twitter notifications. It’s all very nice of people to include me in Follow Fridays and all that jazz, but the explosion of notifications was overwhelming for my brain
I have three different email accounts I use—a blog Gmail account, a personal Gmail account, and a Hotmail account for mailing lists and junky stuff. For my blog Gmail account, I rely on the tab notification to show me if I have any new emails. My personal Gmail account I access through Safari rather than Chrome to keep the two separate, and it’s the only thing I have set up to send me push notifications on my laptop (but not my phone).
On a side note, I’m getting quite a bit less spam on my blog Gmail since I asked Feedspot to take me off their top mental health blogs list. Their whole top blogs system is based on building up lists of blog contacts on various topics, and they sell those lists to marketers. It took me quite a while to clue into that.
Less is more
The only things my phone notifies me of are phone calls or text messages, which I rarely get, so overall, I live a pretty low-notification life.
I think tech and social media can be a good or a bad thing, and a lot comes down to how we choose to use them. I’m inclined to think that being exposed to all the default notifications vying for people’s attention isn’t very healthy. It would be nice if that wasn’t the default, but since it is, it’s up to us as individuals to push back against the behavioural patterns that tech companies are trying to get us to engage in.
How do you manage notifications? Have you taken any steps to try to cut down on how many you get?