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Stop Me Before I Facebook Again

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Stop Me Before I Facebook Again

Digital Life

Stop Me Before I Facebook Again

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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If you find yourself spending a lot of time, maybe too much time checking Facebook, updating your Twitter feed or watching YouTube videos at work, this next story is for you.

Vanessa Romo reports on software to help social media addicts kick the habit.

VANESSA ROMO: Yes, the Web helps us do our jobs, but it can also distract us from them. What with all the...

(Soundbite of YouTube videos)

Mr. PAUL VASQUEZ: Double rainbow all the way across the sky.

Mr. ANTOINE DODSON: (Singing) Hide your kids. Hide your wife. Hide your kids. Hide your wife.


Mr. DODSON: (Singing) Hide your husband 'cause they're rapin' everybody out here.

Mr. VASQUEZ: Oh my god, it's so intense.

ROMO: It is intense.

Professor KATHY GILL (University of Washington): We get a serotonin hit from this.

ROMO: Kathy Gill teaches about the intersection of digital media technologies and social institutions at the University of Washington.

Prof. GILL: So those of us who are susceptible to that high keep getting these little Pavlovian dog responses. It's new, it's shiny - whee.

ROMO: The Nielsen Company, a media research firm, calculated that one in every 4.5 minutes online is spent on blogs and social networking sites. So, Fred Stutzman, a software developer, created an application to combat all of this time wasting. It's called´┐ŻAnti-Social. The idea came to him after he fell into the Wikipedia trap.

Mr. FRED STUTZMAN (Software Developer, Anti-Social): One page on Wikipedia turns into to two to five to 10, and then you've spent an hour learning about things but not necessarily getting work done. So I think by actually having this very simple barrier to keeping yourself offline, it's very effective in terms of productivity.

ROMO: Stutzman's productivity application is for Macs. Sorry, PC-loving time-wasters.

Enable Anti-Social and it's impossible to access Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and any other site you specify - without rebooting your computer.

One person who found the application useful is Pankaj Prasad. He's a business developer in San Francisco.

Mr. PANKAJ PRASAD (Business Developer): I believe I saw a tweet on it, which is kind of ironic because I was wasting time when I came across it.

ROMO: Prasad installed Anti-Social on his work computer two weeks ago. Before installing it, he would take...

Mr. PRASAD: Ten-minute breaks every 20 to 30 minutes.

ROMO: That means Prasad spent an average of 2.5 hours a day doing anything but work before Anti-Social. He says on a scale of one to 10...

Mr. PRASAD: I would give it a six because when I'm in front of my computer I won't flip to, like, Facebook or Twitter. I would give myself an F because I still lean back in my chair and check it on my phone.

ROMO: Anti-Social is just one of many applications that aim to keep digital distractions at bay. A program called LeechBlock lets users choose specific sites to block. Turn on Isolator and you can cover up your desktop and all the icons on it. And if you want to get really hardcore about it, Fred Stutzman also developed Freedom, an application for Macs and PCs that completely blocks the Internet.

Are you feeling the double rainbow withdrawals already?

(Soundbite of music)

ROMO: Not to worry, your smartphone is always there if you need that hit of serotonin.

(Soundbite of YouTube video)

Mr. VASQUEZ: (Singing) Double rainbow all the way across the sky.

ROMO: For NPR News, I'm Vanessa Romo.

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