Trolls! Trolls! Everywhere! Hack Your Social Media

Written by Sean Erikson

Hi! I'm Sean and I'm SUPER excited to meet you. First off, I’m just a normal guy...I'm just like anyone else. But, I've climbed a pretty gnarly personal mountain and learned a lot along the way about health, longevity, and real personal happiness. And, although I'm still learning every day, this site is my attempt to share what I've discovered (so far) with you. "My Intrepid Journey" is my attempt to capture, in the form of short, honest, and (hopefully) meaningful patterns, what I've learned that you might be able to apply to your own awesome journey. Thanks for taking the time. I'd love to hear your thoughts!

May 15, 2020

Pattern: “Hack Your Social Media”

Pattern Category: Gratitude

Pattern Difficulty: Beginner

Before We Start

Everyone loves their social media, and I’m not unique in this regard. I’ve been on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and others, for years.

Although this pattern will contain a little tough love, note that I’m not recommending you turn your social media off.

Far from it.

I’m still on social media, and I’m thankful it continues to provide avenues to connect more and more people to My Intrepid Journey. As a result of social media, I’ve learned a great deal through my connections with others, and my life is enhanced because of those connections.

That said, there are times when my social media feed needs a little grooming and tweaking, and with a few guiding principles, I’m able to keep my social media engaging, positive and uplifting.

This pattern is about making social media work for you in your continuing journey to better fitness, nutrition, and unlimited gratitude.

See you online!


I’m a software engineer by trade, and I truly love what I do. I know it doesn’t sound exciting, but to me it is. Taking complex business problems and abstracting them to their fundamental algorithms and designing systems that meet end-user requirements, but are flexible enough to meet (and even anticipate) the requirements of tomorrow, to me is the epitome of cerebral, artistic, and cultural pursuits. In one endeavor, multiple disciplines are brought together in a gratifying, if not intoxicating, balance:

Engineer. Artist. Futurist. Badass.

I was lucky to start my engineering career during the Internet boom of the 1990s, after serving in the US Navy. Fueled by six years of grueling military work, and weeks and months spent at sea and overseas, I was convinced that going to college was a necessary next step. I was so intent on not wasting time that I enrolled in my Freshman year, at the age of 25, with a start date two full weeks before my discharge from the Navy. Given that I not only had to prepare myself mentally for college, but also relocate myself from Norfolk, VA to Grand Junction, CO, and complete all of the paperwork, health tests and screenings in preparation for transition to civilian life, I found myself more than overwhelmed.

However, at the same time, I was excited. Civilian life was a big change and I was optimistic and eager to start the next phase of my life.

That time in my life was pivotal for me, and I think back to it often. I (chronically) felt like I had catching-up to do, and I quickly settled into a new caffeine-fueled routine: learning, with wide-eyed ambition, programming languages, computer hardware architecture, the scientific method, and advanced math.

Statue of Hercules, Florence, Italy

But, I also had to fill in classes between the core engineering disciplines and I found a passion for a variety of artistic endeavors: philosophy, art history, classical mythology, ancient Greek and Roman literature, and folkloristics. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this exposure instilled in me a deep appreciation for how scientific and artistic pursuits are intertwined and balanced:

Software algorithms and beautiful user interfaces.

Technology and ethics.

The power of data and the importance of data privacy.

And this delicate balance between technology and humanity is quite starkly illuminated within the world of social media where the content we are regularly exposed to can greatly enhance or diminish our daily experience in the world and healthy, meaningful pursuits.

Your Thoughts Matter

The Greek Philosopher Epictetus, once said:

The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best.

Epictetus, Greek Stoic Philosopher, 50-135AD
Anish Kapoor Quote

Now, I’m no student of philosophy, but I do find the teachings of ancient Greek Stoicism to be a fairly practical guide for achieving balance in life: realizing that there are things you can control and not toiling over those that you cannot, and learning how to improve emotional well-being through personal experimentation.

This pattern is built on the idea that your thoughts and your ideas matter, and what you fill your mind with, in particular via your social media feeds, contributes a great deal as to whether those thoughts and ideas are positive or negative.

Consider your own personal inner narratives for a moment. What do they generally consist of? How much time do you spend focusing on the 95%? Your goals, dreams, aspirations, and what you are doing today, this very moment, to advance towards your goals?

Thoughts matter.

Ideas matter.

What you spend your time thinking about shapes your reality and defines your future, so take them seriously.

Pattern: “Hack Your Social Media”

Epidaurus Theatre, Epidavros, Greece

Thesis: Social media can be a useful tool in your journey to better health and nutrition; however, growing research shows that social media can have serious negative effects, leading people to feel more isolated, depressed, and lonely. One study found that while social media does seem to have impact to mental health, that impact can be either greatly positive or negative, depending on the content of your social media feeds:

The evidence suggests that SNS use correlates with mental illness and well-being; however, whether this effect is beneficial or detrimental depends at least partly on the quality of social factors in the SNS [Social Networking Sites] environment.

Seabrook EM, Kern ML, Rickard NS
Social Networking Sites, Depression, and Anxiety: A Systematic Review
JMIR Ment Health 2016;3(4):e50

DOI: 10.2196/mental.5842
PMID: 27881357
PMCID: 5143470

Think about it: How “tethered” to your phone, tablet, and/or computer are you? How often do you pick up your phone to check your social media feeds? If you’re like most people, likely often. According to one survey, Americans check their phones 96 times a day.

Americans now check their phones 96 times a day – that’s once every 10 minutes, according to new research by global tech care company Asurion. That’s a 20 percent daily increase from a similar survey conducted by Asurion two years ago.

Americans Check Their Phones 96 Times a Day
New Asurion Research Shows Our Smartphone Dependency Has Increased by 20% During the Past Two Years

If we are checking our phones almost 100 times per day, consider the influence the content in our social media feeds has on our well-being, either positive or negative, and consider these questions:

  1. How often are the posts you read positive and inspiring?
  2. How often do you come away from reading social media feeling like you’ve learned something or excited to try a new nutritious meal or new workout?
  3. Are you using your social media to reinforce your goals or are you allowing it to undermine your efforts and sapping your emotional energy?

Hack your social media with three simple steps:

  1. Turn off all social media notifications from your phone. Yes, turn them all off. They are completely unnecessary, distracting and frankly a bit addictive. Don’t allow yourself to be derailed just because there are new posts in your feed(s). Make social media work FOR you, on YOUR time.
  2. Unfollow or mute those that post things that are not in alignment with your goals. Note that you don’t need to “unfriend” them and they will never know you’ve muted them, just that you’ve gone quiet. If they ever ask why you don’t respond to their posts, simply tell them you’re taking a break from social media.
  3. Fill your social media feeds with people that are inspiring and positive and those that reinforce your goals. Below is a list of my “top 10”:

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

Jocko Willink

Shaun T

Tony Horton

Monica Reinagel

Vani Hari | Food Babe

“Sly” Sylvester Stallone

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Tim Ferris

Kevin Hart

Implementation Tips & Strategies

If you want to mute friends on Facebook, but still remain connected, check out this Facebook How-To article.

If you want to mute someone on Instagram, check out this Instagram How-To article.

If you want to mute someone on Twitter, check out this Twitter How-To article.

If you want to turn off notifications for certain apps on your iPhone, check out this Apple How-To article.

If you want to turn off notificiations for certain apps on your Android phone, check out this Google How-To article.

Additional Resources You Might Find Useful

The journey is on.
  • Social Networking Sites, Depression, and Anxiety: A Systematic Review – click here to read the publication
  • Americans Check Their Phones 96 Times a Day – click here to read the survey

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