Breaking up with social media
I recently noticed that something has felt awry. I felt out of balance but couldn’t quite put my finger on it.
After a period of general “busy-ness” at work, I would come home at night feeling drained. My evenings were consumed with trashy TV or Netflix… and my mobile phone.
I was feeling more and more frustrated. I wasn’t writing. I wasn’t reading anything of substance. I’m embarrassed to admit that my nights were being filled with endless scrolling.
Conscious consumption: it was a thought that randomly entered my mind the other day.
Perhaps my feeling drained was a result of over consumption and not taking time to chill, create, relax… or simply just be.
Social media risks giving us the attention span of a goldfish. Website taking too long to load? Chances are you’ve opened Facebook before you have even realised. Waiting for a friend? Perfect opportunity to refresh Instagram.
I started to worry that I was too caught up. I wasn’t taking the time to be in the moment. And the more I look around, the more I realise that it’s not just me.
A 2015 study found that adults are using their phones for five hours a day, on 85 separate occasions. I can’t help but wonder if, at the end of 2017, this number might have increased. I also can’t help but wonder if we will all wake up one day and regret how addicted we are to our devices?
Is there such a thing as too many cute puppy videos?
I was thinking about what conscious consumption means for me, when I read the following passage from Seth Godin:
When TV first was adopted, it was a magical gift. The shows united our culture and the ads fuelled a seemingly endless consumer boom.
Today, though, marketers have turned television into an instrument of dissatisfaction … ads remind just about everyone that their lives are incomplete and unhappy--unless they buy what's on offer. Social media can amplify all of these downward cycles. It's TV times 1,000.
Hence a middle class, millions of people who would be as rich in kings in any other time or place, that's angry and disappointed and feeling left behind. Victims of a media regime where they are both the user and the product.
Every time TV and social media become significant time sinks in a household, pleasure goes up and happiness goes down.
The deeper I dug, the more information and discussion I found about our over reliance on our mobile phones… and the potential this has to correlate to increased anxiety, unhappiness and disconnection.
How can we be more connected than ever, yet feel so distant from those around us?
Creation > Consumption
Instead of unconscious scrolling, it’s time to consciously create.
What does this mean? Instead of being reactive, distracted by notifications and mindless updates, I’m going to take the time over the Christmas break to be present with my loved ones. I’m now on leave for a month before starting a new job, and I want to use this time to focus on slowing down and being in the moment.
I’m also committing to putting the phone away and get back into my creative projects. And right now, the prospect of taking my time back and making space to create is really exciting... much more exciting than whatever quick hit social media has to offer.
Are you ready to kick the habit too?
PS. If you are also interested in cutting back and finding the right balance of technology for you, you might find the article “I Used to Be a Human Being” by Andrew Sullivan interesting. In this article for the New Yorker, Andrew talks about his “distraction sickness” – perhaps a more extreme example, but a worthy read.