Time Capsule: a tool to remove the FOMO of leaving social media and raising awareness about the time wasted online!

Hi team,

Besart here. So, I’d been having this idea for a while now, and I finally found the time to throw together a few sentences about it. It’s super simple. So simple that I was surprised no one has come up with something like it before. So I thought of sharing it with your community.

  • The idea is the creation of an online platform where people can throw all their social media content before deleting their profiles – an online “Time Capsule”. And then calculate how much time the people have spent online since the very beginning (based on the uploaded logs).

  • The platform would have a simple UX/ UI that gives the users easy access to all their photos, videos, messages, posts etc, as opposed to the lame folder outlook that one gets now when using the “Download my data” option on FB.

  • Furthermore, after the user uploads all their info the website would show how many hours has the user spent on social media since their first opened the profile - as a way on increasing awareness about the insane amounts of time that people are spending online.

  • The hours can be calculated by either making some simple estimation of how long does it take to post a picture for example or type a word - OR by getting access to their logs since the beginning (in theory, the user should have access to all their data including the logs).

  • And then maybe even have an indicator that shows how much money the social media platform made out of the hours the users spent online!

  • The idea is for people to be able to throw all their data in there, form Insta, FB, Twitter, etc - and have easy access to them in a beautifully designed and simple platform.

  • This, plus the hour calculator, would

  1. be a perfect “red pill” to make people aware of the actual time (and money) they’ve spent online
  2. be able to close accounts without FOMO of losing pics/ messages/ memories

It’s something I would personally definitely use. I think it would be rather scary for many people, especially digital natives like my generation, to realize that they might’ve spent days and months worth of aimless scrolling on an empty screen … doing nothing but getting distracted by anger, envy, fear. And making money for the ad industry.

Again I’m surprised I haven’t found anything like this online. I know there is stuff like this, this, and this. But they’re not quite what I’m talking about. They’re more like paid services to save things online with a purpose of opening them later, I guess. I also know that Times magazine made a tool like the one I mentioned before about calculating the online time on FB … but shortly went defunct. To no surprise.

Let me know what you think. Honestly and shamelessly. No hard feelings.

If you think it could help peeps out there actually leave social media, do you have any ideas how I would pursue this concept (while working full time, heh!)? Maybe the Center for Humane Tech has some support/ incubator program of some sort?


Hi Besart,

it’s the first time I hear this kind of idea, here are my comments:

  • is it not too much oriented to the past of the individual? FOMO is the fear of missing out, and it mainly refers to present or future events. It will not be decreased by having this time capsule.
  • is it really a big added value to know how much time (more or less, computed through some standard / average measures) the person spent on social media? Until he/she decided to quit, social media were their mean to reach other people or get updated, so I would not consider the whole time on social media by itself as meaningful. It depends how that time was used each session on the social.
  • it would be good to have a static private repository with a nice UI where people could keep their memories, removing all hooks and addictive feature of a social media.

For people whom would benefit from such Time Capsule service, their privacy would be very important too. I would not want strangers to be able to access it. And if I would allow my friends access, then the time capsule becomes sort of a social network in its own right.

For me the time capsule would not be interesting, but maybe others will like that. I have email repositories with megabytes of information, like everyone has. But how often do you read old emails out of interest? It is only the search function that is important if you really need some info. I wonder how that works with social media. The time capsule will be like a diary.

If there are megabytes of information stored in that application (e.g. Google has megabytes of info just about you), who is going to pay for the servers and storage?

Most important point is technical in nature. All common social media platforms are so-called prorietary ‘walled gardens’. They make it intentionally hard to move away from the network. Even if you can download your complete dataset (which e.g. GDPR laws prescribe), then the data can often not be reconstructed in their original structure (e.g. LinkedIn data download consists of CSV files that do not have foreign keys to reconstruct relationships). Each network has their own data structure, and the data structures vary over time. The import functionality would have to support all of that and reconstruct a useful information model.