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Taking Back Time
How Internet Companies Steal Your Life

How much time are you wasting online?
How much time are you wasting online?

Time is the most precious thing you have. How you use it can mean the difference between sickness or health, happiness or depression. It can even mean the difference between life and death.

Many of you are having that priceless resource stolen, and you don't even know it.

In the early years of computing, companies made money by selling hardware or software. Hardware is the physical stuff like computers, printers, monitors and scanners. Software is what makes a computer usable. Things like spreadsheets, word processors and graphics programs. Companies made money when they sold the product, when they upgraded their product and when you needed tech support.

Then came the internet. Suddenly there were companies giving things away without charging you a penny. Search engines like Google could comb through hundreds of millions of web pages in a second to give you a link to exactly what you were trying to find. Facebook helped you connect with friends, family and people you hadn't heard from in years. Youtube became a place where anybody could upload their videos and share them with the world.

Incredibly, all these services were free, or at least that's how they appeared. The reality is, those companies make money by showing you ads.

To maximize their revenue, internet companies need to do two things. First, they have to collect a lot of information about you. The more information they have, the more effective those ads are. Second, they need to keep you online. The longer you stare at that screen, the more ads they can feed you. Here's how that works.

Early companies like Google used things called “cookies” to track what you did. They recorded what websites you visited, how long you stayed on those sites and what you did while you were there. They used that information to build a profile of you. They figured out your sex, marital status, income, political preferences and secret desires.

Then they sold advertisers access to you.

But guessing at your information wasn't enough. Social media companies like Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Tik Tok took it even further. You tell them upfront your personal details, and then you give them more. They watch and learn what you like, who you agree and disagree with and what you do every day. They know if you're happy or sad. They know what you want to buy. They have so much data; they can even anticipate what you're going to do a few hours or days from now.

Now they need to keep you online.

The changes in how programs work are subtle. For example, on Youtube, once you finish watching a video, they automatically load up a new one based on your history. If you do nothing, after a few seconds, that new video starts playing. Now they get to show another ad or series of ads and keep your eyeballs right where they want them.

Facebook added the “like” button. Suddenly people were competing for how many “likes” their posts got. People began posting more frequently, and Facebook started showing just the things that were most engaging to you, with a heavy dose of targeted advertising mixed in.

Tik Tok utilizes something called an “endless feed.” You can like, comment or follow someone while you're watching their video. At any time, you can swipe up to get the next one. Tik Tok watches how long you stay on a video and how you interact with it. The fun never stops. Every time you swipe up, another video is waiting to entertain.

All those little tricks work. In 2008 adult users spent about 2.7 hours per day on digital media. Google sold 21.8 billion dollars in advertising, and Facebook sold 272 million in ads.

By 2019, the average user spent 6 hours and 42 minutes online daily. Americans check their phones an average of 96 times a day, or once every 10 minutes! Google sold 160.7 BILLION dollars in advertising and Facebook sold 70.7 billion dollars in ads. All that time online is wildly profitable for internet companies, but it costs you dearly.

Instead of cooking a healthy meal, it's easier to grab fast food and watch videos. Instead of going to the gym, it's easier to post pictures of the things you want on Pinterest. We've become a nation of voyeurs and critics, sitting on our butts while life passes us by.

Take that time back. If you're using a computer, set a timer before you sit down.

Smartphone users can set limits on each and every app. iPhone users running iOS 12 or higher can use the App Limits feature. Go to Settings, then Screen Time and finally App Limits to restrict how long you can use any program on any day. Android users can download the Digital Well Being App from the Google Play store and do the same thing.

Don't let those companies sell your life away. Rejoin the real world. Go for a walk, ride a bike or lift some weights. Plan and prepare healthier meals. Start putting a priority on things that help rather than harm your health.

Call for a FREE Consultation (305) 296-3434
CAUTION: Check with your doctor before
beginning any diet or exercise program.