Happy Friday everyone!
Today I want to share some things that have helped me fight my social media addiction. I am nowhere near being ‘cured’ but I’ve found ways to lessen my time and be more productive again.
Social Media is a loophole. These tech companies hire psychologists who find out the best ways to make you addicted. We should never forget that when we feel stupid for having wasted so much time on our phones or other devices. We’re lured like dogs are lured with a stick or snack but we don’t really get that amazing sensation anymore. I think most people already experience social media fatigue. But even though we’re tired, we’re still using these social media because our brains have already been tempered with enough for us to keep reaching out to our phones and opening the same damn apps, several times a day. I am one of the first social media users before it was even a word. When I was a teenager I was already on twitter, and joined Instagram a year after it came out (didn’t have a smartphone until I was 18 or 19 years old). I’ve been using Instagram for almost ten years. That fact shocks me sometimes, but I am glad that I experienced a time in my life as a kid/teenager when social media wasn’t a thing. But it’s tiring. And it has definitely done more damage to my mental health than actually helped me. Social Media is a great way to stay in contact with people. I don’t want to deny any of the benefits from these apps. The thing is; they are a good thing and actually helpful if you know how to use them. But 99% of us don’t really know how to use them to our advantage and not disadvantage. It’s so easy to keep scrolling, wasting time, and suddenly you raise your head and realise you’re feeling numb or even sad. As with everything else in life, you need to find a balance. Now, Instagram, twitter, and co. don’t want you to find a balance. They want to sell your attention and changed behaviour through using their apps, to make more profit. You (/your attention) are the product, as they say in The Social Dilemma (A Nettflix documentary I highly recommend).
As some of you may already know, I have tried a ‘social media detox’ two times last year – and failed both times. But it wasn’t a complete failure. I learnt something. First, I can’t go without social media for a month (shocker). Second, my days are better if I don’t use social media. There’s the quandary. Like a child, I, and I am pretty sure many people need to act like our parents now to help us discipline into being more responsible adults who are not looking for the next kick all the time. Without further ado, these are the things I’ve been doing in the last weeks – and they’ve actually helped.
- Deleting all Social Media from your phone.
Yes, delete them! Smartphones have become a chain or a syringe to us. We constantly have to look at it, even if it’s just for checking the time (and we all know what happens when we ‘just want to check the time’). I did this before but then kept redownloading the apps again, but this time I won’t give in! I’ve got an iPad mini on which all my social media apps are. I only access them through my iPad! Ever since I’ve been doing that I spent significantly less time on social media.
2. Blocking all Social Media Sites on Your Laptop/Computer
I use the chrome extension ‘BlockSite’ to do this. You create your own list of webpages you want to block and when you try to open them you get a cheeky image and a notice that the page is blocked. I have to be honest; I have un-blocked pages again, frequently in fact, but I’ve put them on the blocklist again. As I said before, I try to only use social media through my apps on the iPad. It is hard as un-blocking a site is even easier than re-downloading apps but we have to start somewhere.
3. Doing More Things Offline
Yes, you can even play video games offline. But in general, doing something without staring at a monitor is good for everyone. Humans didn’t evolve to sit on their asses staring at a square space 24-7. Take more walks (without your phone), get a hobby that doesn’t involve a screen, read books, learn a new skill. The more you do things you actually enjoy the less you want to be on social media all the time. As I am a writer, I will always spend most of my time staring at a screen, but that’s okay. I will gladly sacrifice my back and great eyesight to the joy I get out of writing. BUT I’ve been doing more reading offline (not on my tablet), taking more walks, doing yoga, and going through all my things like a madwoman because I bought too many things again and want to declutter (again).
It all starts with honesty. Stop lying to yourself. ‘I am an addict!‘ Say it. Somehow Social Media addiction is benignantly ignored because companies make much money out of it, it helps us to ‘connect’, and by the way, everyone’s doing it. We’re not getting high or drunk, just more depressed, and we can blame society and capitalism for that. Well, Social Media is a product of capitalism. If you are using it right now, you are a capitalist. And you’re helping capitalists to grow in power, and contribute to their wealth. I don’t mean to shame anyone but if we really want to do something about unfairness, well, as all things of importance, it starts with us. Many people are unaware of the negative effects social media has on them. ‘I am okay with this,’ they’ll say but then compare themselves to others they see on Instagram which makes them feel inadequate and inferior, get angry at tweets, wonder why a friend doesn’t reply, like their photos, etc etc. Again, these apps are there to get us hooked. The scrolling effect is the ‘slot machine effect’. It’s like going to a casino and you can’t stop gambling, put all your coins into the machine because next time you might hit the jackpot – and watch a cat video that will make you happy (to be fair, cat videos actually make us happier but that has more to do with cats than staring at a screen. Perhaps just get a cat and be really happy?). I think by now most people have actually forgotten why they joined social media in the first place. Probably because everyone’s on these apps?! But you don’t buy a bicycle and then just let it stand in your hallway or garden. You buy it to cycle(, and it won’t mess with your brain). If we want to change our behaviour and spend more time in the real world, i.e. fight our social media addiction, we need to start seeing social media as a tool. Why am I on this app? Does it improve my life? Do I need it? Is it actually good for me to be on this app? If you find a good reason to use these apps then think about how you can effectively use them without wasting too much time. This brings me to my last advice: Read ‘Digital Minimalism’ by Cal Newport. Most of the tips I’ve just told you are from his book. This book can be a real life-changer. You just need to let it happen, and perhaps, not follow the crowd. That’s usually a good thing.
have a great weekend,