All posts by Emily Binder

Emily Binder is a marketer who likes good copy, technology, and progress. Hobbies include chess, cooking, and rollerblading. University of Michigan alumna.

Unfriend Energy Drainers: Social Media Self-Care

Two parts:
1) The story of my non-friend Matt, the annoying Facebook power-user (energy drainer).
2) Your to-do: unfriend your Matt. Healthy social media boundaries that may seem rude are digital survival.

1. Background story

I have an acquaintance we’ll call Matt. I met Matt about seven years ago through a mutual friend whom I no longer know. Matt friended me on Facebook the day after we met. We’ve met in person twice, the last time over five years ago. We live in different cities.
man holding phone looking at facebook login screen
Matt seems to watch my (very infrequent) Facebook posts like a hawk, as he comments on nearly every one. For several years, I averaged about three posts per year. This year I’ve been posting more often because I started a YouTube channel about career advice and Facebook is one of the most effective ways to share this content. I feel a little gross every time I post on Facebook, but it’s the easiest way to let more friends know about my videos, and many have come out of the woodwork with kind support. Yes, there is some good on FB.
I don’t trust Facebook. I’ve been effusive in this blog and on podcasts about its ill effects on society. This sums up my feelings.
 I don’t like to feed the Zuckerberg money-printing machine with my thoughts and likes and keywords, let alone my conversations. I think people who spend a great deal of time on Facebook and post a lot, who use Facebook Messenger in place of text or email, are often ignorant about the precious personal information they’re giving away.
Facebook is an addictive product that we should view like we do nicotine, alcohol, and fast food – it’s produced by a young, entitled, insanely wealthy company that has always asked forgiveness, not permission. Facebook is a drug: the dopamine it produces is addictive. The lifestyle and apparent happiness level comparisons it invites damage users. The research is clear. We seek to limit our intake of all other drugs. Make the connection.

2. Unfriend your Matt

You probably have at least one Matt in your Facebook network. He seems to spend an inordinate amount of time on Facebook, noticing your every post. He comments on almost everything. He wants to incite debate and further comments. He is addicted to notifications. He posts lengthy comments, sharing his opinions, seeming to invite controversy. He is a time suck at best and a pollutant at worst.
 man looking at phone screen with facebook logo in background
Matt wants to be seen and and heard. Matt’s dopamine production is attuned to Facebook notifications in the purest Pavlovian sense.
He’s hooked, and you’ll pay.
A couple times a year, I will share an Instagram video from PETA or Jacked Animals. I don’t push my mostly plants diet beliefs on anyone, but sometimes I just want to remind my friends that if we all ate less animal, our health and planet would be better off. The way I share it, it’s a simple, undeniable, and short message. No vitriol and not there to incite and host a debate about veganism.
Frankly, you can’t refute the fact that factory farming is animal abuse that’s awful for the environment; and that the standard American diet (SAD) causes disease and rising healthcare costs. I am past the point of being a 16 year-old interested in debating meat eaters on any of this. I know the facts, and that’s enough for me. Unfollow me if you don’t want to see the occasional post saying something like this:
screenshot of facebook post sharing PETA video
Matt posted a three-paragraph comment on this asking about the minutiae of my diet and asking me if oysters are sentient and where I draw the line. It’s a boring debate in which the aggressor tries to poke holes in the argument that advocates for animals or the planet by changing the subject to speciesism. I’m tired of the defensiveness when I simply shared facts. I realize that things like diet are tied up in a whole mess of identity, family, and politics. But I didn’t say everyone should be vegan. I’m not black and white on it. I just said brutal murder of these intelligent animals isn’t necessary; there is a real arbitrariness in our choices of pets vs food.
The point:
This isn’t the first time he has written an unwelcome essay on my wall. I have no interest in being connected to Matt. We aren’t real friends. (Do you realize that Facebook is so powerful that it has redefined “friend”?) I have no interest in passively acquiescing to host Matt’s contentious, speciously academic/curious comments on my bare bones wall.
Of all walls, mine is the least of a free-for-all comment spree inviting debate. It’s not my duty to let Matt post whatever he wants for all my network to see because I’m afraid that deleting his comments or unfriending him might hurt his feelings. His feelings are not my concern because see point A: we’re not friends. My precious mental energy is my concern.

I unfriended Matt.

Unsurprisingly, within three minutes, he realized I had and sent me this message:
facebook message
Garbage in, garbage out:

Many of us put up with the unwelcome presence of others who lack etiquette, who seek attention, who abuse social media, who overshare, who depress us, who drain us.

We host them in our social feeds and our lives for the sake of appearances or politeness. We need to filter our inputs better.
Information and energy that we absorb from those around us impacts our moods, ideas, and creativity. Facebook has been proven to depress users. Sometimes Facebook even experiments on users to see how tweaking the algorithm will affect our depression levels. It’s sick stuff. Protect yourself.

If something is a time suck without clear benefit, just unfriend the sucker.

Don’t toe-dip with Facebook’s “take a break” feature. (Kudos to the FB product development team: this fence-sitting middle ground between following somebody and unfriending them is a great way to keep up the average size of users’ networks and ultimately increase engagement).
social media icons on iphone screen

Facebook. Is. A. Business.

It doesn’t exist to help the world or create connection.
It can do good and it does connect us. But good is a chance by-product, while certain results include wasted time, news from one’s own echo chamber, and proven depression due to competition and jealousy.
After ten years on and off it, when I use Facebook, I unapologetically prioritize my experience over the perceived etiquette of the Matts who don’t deserve my energy.

BeanCast 483: Flushing Hamsters

Had fun debating Super Bowl ad reviews and Elon Musk’s Starman stunt.

Listen here

My favorite parts:

  1. Ram Trucks co-opting MLK is a bigger problem than most realize. Check out the re-done ad with the other part of his sermon.
  2. The greater meaning behind the epic SpaceX/Tesla launch (it’s much more than a stellar car ad).


Super Bowl Winners

Sources: VarietyAd AgeAdweekHBSGlobe and Mail

Super Bowl Losers

Sources: Ad AgeAd Age opinionDodge Ram backlash

Assessing Overall Effectiveness

Sources: BI on low ratingsAdweek on most effectiveAdweek’s experimentMediapost reports

Elon Musk’s Stunt

Sources: Ad Age reportsAdweek reports

–Aired February 12, 2018

Adapted from original post by Bob Knorpp on

“Work Hard Play Hard” – Clue to a Bad Startup Job

When you see the phrase “Work hard play hard” in a job description, run the other way.

It’s common in startup recruiting and it’s usually bad news for candidates and employees in regards to company culture, work life balance, and compensation. Startups often want cheap labor and with phrases like this, they’ll promote their fast paced, fun work environment where employees are often overworked and underpaid.

Now, there are plenty of great startups out there (I loved working at one). This is not a sweeping indictment, it’s just one insight to help you read between the lines about unhealthy startup culture.

Subscribe to my channel for more videos about career, money, and health.

Kenrick et al. update to Maslow’s pyramid of needs (AKA hierarchy of needs). Learn more about the legacy and leisure drives related to the “work hard play hard” tendency:

1) The ‘Big Four’ Human Drives
2) Maslow’s Pyramid Gets a Makeover

Salary Negotiation Tips – Why Your Current Salary is Like Your Weight

“So, where are you now in terms of salary?”

Never answer this question in a job interview. Treat it like “How much do you weigh?” Because it’s equally personal and inappropriate. It just happens to be incredibly common – but that is already changing. Salary history questions are discriminatory and harmful to candidates, especially women. Here’s why:

Don’t let your past dictate your future.

Avoid answering this probing interview question, which has already been outlawed in several states and cities. This is the most important tip to earn a higher income when you change jobs. Everything else, all the other advice you’ll hear about negotiation, is tactical on top of the foundation you either build or destroy based on how you handle this query.

I know it’s hard to dodge a question or play hardball when you really want a job. Ladies, it’s especially hard for us because we’ve been trained to be “nice” and accommodating all our lives. Screw that. Don’t apologize. Now, you don’t want to appear uncooperative or difficult. Just be willing to deftly sidestep a question that no one should be asking you in the first place. Here’s how you can dodge the salary history question while maintaining a friendly, professional demeanor – and actually impressing the hiring manager with your savvy:

Women are still paid 77 cents to every man’s dollar. Carrying the burden of your last salary into your next role will keep you from achieving your potential.

Don’t let being underpaid at your last job stop you from earning the salary you deserve!

Subscribe to my YouTube channel so you’ll never miss a video about making your life richer. I’ll be sharing tried and true advice on career, personal finance, and health (which you need to optimize in order to enjoy anything else you’ve earned once you have a 500k Chase Ultimate Rewards points and excellent credit – which you can within two years with my tips).
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Caveat: I do believe in salary transparency after you’re hired.

Namely amongst coworkers and peers, friends, and family. A rising tide lifts all boats. If we’d stop shrouding our salaries from our friends because we feel awkward about money and want to be “polite”, we’d all make more money. If you knew how much you parents made throughout your life, this would give you greater perspective on market rates for various roles, and what a given salary range could afford in terms of lifestyle. Do you have any idea what your parents made? It’s nebulous for most. Americans are so uncomfortable about money and sex but we bathe in violence.

Salary transparency post-hire and within companies is a good thing. And providing your desired salary can be okay – though I recommend forcing the employer to be first to talk numbers. More on this next week. Click here to get an email when I post a new blog (usually 1-2 times a month).

Four Most Useful Alexa Skills

I have an Amazon Echo in my bedroom and an Echo Show in my kitchen. I use both daily. They have more than paid for themselves in helping me get hands-free information or assistance quickly.

Echo is far from perfect but she beats Siri to a pulp and Echo will only get better with time. Also, yes – Amazon is spying on us. So are Facebook and Google. You can accept it and reap the benefits of the products while taking privacy precautions, or live in the woods (nothing wrong with the latter). But if you think not owning an Echo will make you safer from tech companies watching you, you’re kidding yourself. So, enjoy!

These are the four skills I use the most. If you’re on the fence about buying an Echo, these are the ones from which you could most easily and quickly benefit. (The Echo Dot is only $29.99 right now, so that’s just a no-brainer. It’s the cost of an alarm clock and does a lot more, while also saving your eyes and brain from that stressful visual of the time around 3:42AM.)
  1. Find your lost phone.

    There are a few skills for this but the cleanest, easiest to set up, and easiest trigger words to remember are from this IFTTT recipe. It’s ideal for when your phone is lost within hearing range (like in your couch).

    You say: “Alexa, trigger find my phone.”

    And your phone will ring. Bluetooth does not need to be on, as it does with the Trackr skill that Amazon advertises for finding your phone. The IFTTT recipe doesn’t require installing any additional apps. Plus, just for fun, you can have that 415 number leave any voice message you want. The default is a machine-read, “Hey, it’s your phone. You found me.”

    IFTTT Alexa trigger informationNote: Available in the U.S. only. I like the simplicity of this skill. However, if your phone is lost outside hearing range, the Trackr skill is more detailed and can tell you where it was last seen (address included). That’s nice for finding a truly lost phone.

  2. Find out what time it is.

    You say: “Alexa, time.”

    Use this anytime, especially while you’re in bed. It prevents you from having to move, which can awaken your body. Most importantly, it removes the need to open your eyes and look at your phone or a clock, which wakes up your brain due to the light. Studies have shown that seeing the time on alarm clock or phone can worsen insomnia and anxiety about getting adequate sleep.

    Your phone’s blue light actually makes your brain think it’s morning. Looking at your phone is awful for your circadian rhythm. This simple skill can help. I don’t recommend a jolting alarm wake-up either, which increases heart rate and stress, but instead use a gentle smart wake over thirty minutes with the Sleep Cycle app. I also keep my phone on Airplane mode all night to prevent EMFs from harming my brain and body during sleep.

  3. Get help falling asleep or relaxing.

    You say: “Alexa, help me fall asleep.”

    You’ll hear ambient nature sounds. It’s relaxing. Good to play when getting ready for bed. Further, if you have Spotify, I recommend this skill for yoga, meditation, stretching before bed, or general soothing sounds:

    You say: “Alexa, play meditation music from Spotify.”

    Echo Show on kitchen counter with tomatoes
    Because I can’t remember anything for myself and neither can you.
  4. Set reminders for anything.

    From leaving the house to calling someone back to packing a lunch to putting clothes in the dryer to soaking black beans – sky’s the limit.

    You say: “Alexa, remind me to ___________ at 2:15PM.”

    The reminder will be audible from your Echo and also can appear on your phone if you’ve turned on notifications. I like this feature in case I’m not home.

I’m a fan of Amazon’s voice assistant, obviously. If you’re going to buy an Echo, please click through one of my links in this post. It chips in a few dimes to pay for my web hosting and my valuable hours spent arguing with Bluehost. Thanks 🙂