Social Media without Attention Incentives · Amr Eldib 

Social Media without Attention Incentives

I was watching the first episode of Black Mirror season 3 couple of nights ago titled ‘Nosedive’. Don’t worry, I’m not gonna give any spoilers. But it’s about a world where ranking on social media determines social status. There’s a score associated with everyone.

Scene from Black Mirror episode 'Nosedive'
Our distant future

Guess what? we’re somewhat already there. On Twitter, how we deal with popular tweets/people is different from anyone else. Every person has a number next to their name to indicate their popularity and, indirectly, their worth. Every tweet has numbers next to it indicating its worth: favorites, retweets, replies.
You’re notified when people like and retweet what you say. It’s a small hit of dopamine to make you happy for a moment.
But you end up getting addicted. You change what you say (even just slightly) to get more likes and more retweets. You make sure to mention and reply to popular people to get their attention, and have them retweet your tweet hoping it’ll go viral.
I know this, because I do this.
There’s a quote from the show:

I’m just gonna play the numbers game, that’s how the world works.

But, I don’t want to do this anymore. No more numbers.
I wrote a userstyle that hides all the attention numbers from Twitter. Tweets will no longer have retweet/likes/reply counts.

Tweet with numbers removed
Tweets will no longer have retweet/likes/reply counts

Profile pages will no longer show tweet/likes/media counts.

Profile with numbers removed
Profile pages will no longer show tweet/likes/media counts

Notifications page will no longer tell that you’ve been retweeted, liked, or other attention activities. Only replies will show up.
Removing this attention incentive will hopefully make us saner, and only seek meaningful interactions. If you like something, say something nice. If I write something, I’m hoping it’s to be right, not to be popular.
I named the userstyle no-attention. To install it, use Stylish for Firefox or Stylish for Chrome, then install the style. Addons for other browsers and more info available on userstyles home page.
I hope you find this useful. If you do, pass it on to your friends.


Share