Last week I took a break from social media.
I don’t know why I never have before. It was nice, and I wasn’t as tempted to check as much as I thought I would be. I didn’t miss anything noteworthy, either. A week isn’t a long time, but it was long enough for me to break my dependence on my phone.
This technology is crazy. I really enjoyed the purge. Yet when I opened one of my social apps up again, which I wasn’t even in a rush to do, all the anxieties and the urges to refresh and get new content that felt so distant during my time away came flooding back immediately.
I’ve put some barriers on my usage before.
Throughout high school, I had a strict policy that if it didn’t happen on my page, it didn’t happen. But I eventually gave into scrolling my timeline and news feed and whatever because I felt like I was being too self-centered.
I turned off all push notifications over a year ago. It was a huge help, but over time the addictive nature of my personality found some other way to obsess and constantly refresh the page when I opened my apps.
Aimless scrolling and obsessive refreshing. I hate it. It’s like checking the fridge every twenty minutes knowing damn-well there’s nothing in there you want. And the past week was the wake up call I needed to actively fight against this crap. I felt so much better not worrying about anything going on that wasn’t directly in front of me. I want to continue being more present in my own life. Y’all don’t need to know half the stuff I usually post about my life online. And I definitely don’t need to know who’s watching, liking, or commenting all the time when I do post content.
So I’ve decided to change three things.
1.) I’m leaving my phone across my room when I sleep so social media isn’t the first thing I engage with when I wake up.
2.) I’m not going to look at who’s viewed my stories on IG and Snapchat, or scroll through who liked my posts. I’ll only concern myself with comments and real engagement.
3.) I’m limiting myself to checking my notifications and scrolling a little bit three times a day for no longer than 30 minutes.
I’m not saying all of this to be profound or anything. I’m not doing anything new or noteworthy. But I think we could all use a sociality check. Sociality, get it? Cause it’s not IRL? Does that work for everyone, or should I stop? I don’t know, but we’re rocking with it for now. By that I mean we should all take a look at our relationship with this technology every so often. If your habits on social media aren’t making you happy, reevaluate how you use it. And there’s no cut and dry answer. A healthier relationship with my socials was taking better control of my time and not letting it run me. It’s difficult, because old habits die hard and I’ve been droning out looking at screens for I guess a decade now.
The psychological effects of this stuff are serious business. The developers of these advancements don’t use them or let their children use them. That’s scary. We’re just guinea pigs, and there’s nothing in the history of humanity that can help us anticipate what’s to come. And what has come so far has been children committing suicide and mental illness skyrocketing with new media-based diseases being coined every year. I don’t know what the answer is. I don’t know what’s being done or what could be done for the mass public to practice better habits around social technology. So until then, the responsibility rests with individuals. And this individual is trying, at the very least. This is a topic that really interests me. I went to and am going back to school for Emergent Media Studies and Production. If you’ve made changes in how you navigate the web and the socials, let me know and let’s exchange notes and stories.