Oh, boy. This has been a long time coming. As with anything worth focus and scrutiny — it’s been on my mind for months. Years. It felt serious but now…maybe it isn’t serious in the way I thought initially. Because what I thought initially was that leaving social media would deprive me of connecting to the outside world. Now, I am convinced that staying will have that exact effect instead.
Like many of you, I watched the Social Dilemna last year. My reaction was very focused outside of myself. I was angry. Mostly that big social media businesses were manipulating the masses - including myself. The result was a few “can you believe it,” conversations with friends and family, a few weeks of avoiding social media altogether and then…a gradual return.
It wasn’t until learning about my own addiction to social media that I came to see social media as more than just an ingenious marketing scheme. Learning about the addictive properties of social media, and my choices along the way, has given me the motivation I needed to take responsibility for myself and seek recovery through abstaining.
And that is where you find me today. According to my “Streaks” App, I am on day 17 without social media. Mostly, I have found my mind to be more free. I have recognized my self destructive tendency to replace one addiction with another (which is why I am also abstaining from all News - apps, podcasts, websites - everything.) I am less tied to my phone. More present. More aware of all the many times I used social media to fill the spare moments of my life to avoid boredom at any cost.
I cannot offer anything but a middle of the road report. No shiny life improvements or new goals met or revolutionary realizations. All I can offer is a confession. After years of using social media in my job and progressively, as a drug, I am drying out.
I’ve wracked my brain for ideas regarding how to stay in touch with people and the best I can say is that I will probably use direct methods with more enthusiasm: text, email, written letters (time to gather addresses!) and maybe blogging without the after publishing flurry of posting to various social channels.
And…that’s it. It may seem a shallow vice. If it does, I am glad for you. It means you do not find yourself ensnared by the algorithms both online and embedded in your own human brain. But…if like me, you find yourself fighting an addiction to social media online, take it seriously. Take a pause.
If you are interested in the science of addiction and the way in which our society encourages addictions, I highly recommend the work of Dr. Anna Lempke and Dopamine Nation.
All the best,