Studies have shown that 77% of employees use social media while on the job. Why is it so easy to fall down the rabbit hole of content consumption? And what does it take to pull yourself out and get back to the work you want to be doing? In this piece, the authors discuss the results of a series of studies exploring what makes people more or less likely to get sucked into endlessly watching videos or looking at posts. They identify three key factors — how much media you’ve already viewed, the similarity of the media you’ve viewed, and the manner in which you viewed it — and argue that all three have the power to influence how appealing related content is likely to feel. Based on these findings, they suggest that if you’re worried about falling into a social media rabbit hole, you should take steps to reduce the similarity, repetitiveness, and relatedness of the content you’re consuming.
Picture this: You’ve just settled into your workday and pulled up that big report you need to finish, when a friend sends you a couple of celebrity videos on Instagram. You figure you’ll just take a few minutes to watch the videos — and then the next thing you know, an hour has gone by. You’ve been sucked down the rabbit hole, watching video after video, while that big report sits, neglected, on your desk.
We all want to use our time efficiently and productively, especially while at work. And yet, studies have shown that 77% of employees use social media while on the clock, many of them for up to several hours a day. Even when we don’t have a looming assignment, we almost never sit down, turn on our phones, and intentionally decide, “I’m going to spend two hours on TikTok now!” So how does “I’ll just watch a few celebrity confessionals” spiral into hours of viewing?
To better understand why people fall into these sorts of rabbit holes (and how they can climb out and get back to work), we conducted a series of studies with a total of 6,445 U.S.-based students and working adults. Through this research, we identified three factors that influence whether people choose to continue viewing photos and videos rather than switch to another activity: …….