Search

Social Media Addiction; What 6 months social media free (during a global pandemic) taught me.

The addictive nature of vanity metrics (likes, hearts, thumbs up, comments, shares) can not be underestimated. Social media addiction is one of the fastest growing addictions on the planet (particularly among 18-35yo) and yet so few of us can admit we do it.

.

Social media addiction may soon take its rightful place in the ‘spectrum of addictive disorders’ characterised within the ‘bible’ of psychology the DSM (diagnostic and statistical manual).

.

Psychology has given us an amazing taxonomy of symptoms. Psychologists have in fact become so good at identifying the issues (disorders), they are often spectacularly awful at helping with practical solutions!

.

I believe there is no greater teacher than a good story, so I thought I’d provide an anecdotal account. A social experiment with myself as the guinea pig. As someone who identifies as an addict (of many and varied forms), I was the perfect candidate. I was able to notice the subtle neurochemical high my ‘likes’ were giving me. But also abundantly aware that social media aint real life. The people that like my posts are a mix of friends and admirers at best... stalkers, at worst. I know this language is harsh but we need to get real about what this is and call a thing a thing.

.

I knew all of this intellectually, I am an educated woman with 37 years on this planet, but the feeling was irrefutable, there it was there. The addictive payoff for my latest selfie. My thesis was simple, I removed myself from all social media for 6 months.

.

The results surprised me. I had several people contact me to ask if I was okay? Others who were bothered that I had ‘deleted’ them or that I was ‘ignoring’ them. My virtual self had become both a victim and a villain and all because I’d decided to conduct my relationships outside of the abstract echo chamber we call social media.

.

I was able to be more present. When I was with people I was fully with them. There in body and mind. Not constantly checking my phone or thinking about how awesome our girls trip to Scotland in the summer would look as an insta post (you all know you’ve done it!!). Now I’m not saying I’m never going to post those photos, but what I am saying is that there is a healthy way of relating to myself and to others online - and then there’s not. This is where the work is. It is up to me (as it is up to each of us) to define what this ‘digitally healthy’ is for ourselves.

.

And if you want my unsolicited advice, whatever you decide for yourself turn of f*ckin notifications. Game changer!