This week I’m delving into the god-awful whirlpool our society has found themselves caught in with no chance of escaping anytime soon; this is our addiction to our social media, apps, and constant need to be available through our devices. This epidemic is prevalent wherever you look. No matter what your age, gender, or socioeconomic status, you are not exempt. First let me start by saying these handheld devices have been a complete blessing while driving on unknown routes, saving me from continuing in the wrong direction or being able to get in instant contact with a loved one at a time of need. My issue is not that we have become dependent on these remarkable objects of technology, it’s we are losing out on precious moments and they are preventing us from creating memories because we are glued to the screen. It’s painful when I see a couple out to dinner & they haven’t looked up from their phones to engage in a conversation, or a child tugging on his mother to show her something his inquisitive mind just discovered and she pays no attention to him.
The commitment we have to our phones, the excessive checking we do throughout the day and even in the middle of the night, is unreal. My awareness of these habits made me realize that every time I would wake during the night, I would routinely check my phone. I think the healthiest way to a happy medium is setting aside times to do this. If you are a business owner, you know the importance of being available or having constant content on your pages, but we owe it to ourselves to unplug and really start living. I made a few rules for myself. I didn’t wake up, eyes still half closed, and reach for my phone to start reading emails or scrolling through the gram. Instead, I would allow myself to indulge in a much more relaxing and beneficial start to my day. My email, social media, and phone now had a designated timeframe and it led me to be much more productive. I also applied this to the hour before I went to sleep. I need time to unwind, digest the day, and read a chapter of my current book. Arianna Huffington, the co-founder and editor-in chief for The Huffington Post, has made it a nightly practice to not bring her phone into the bedroom after collapsing from exhaustion while reading work emails. She even created an app with Samsung which tells people who try to contact you that you are unable to be reached because you are “thriving”. How cool is that? And if those trying to reach you don’t respect the time you need in order for yourself to live a healthy and fulfilled life, then I think you already know what you need to do with those people.
Lastly, I challenge you to have a Social Media Detox at least one day a month, but I prefer to do it every so often for longer periods of time to flush out the negativity we don’t even realize is affecting us. The constant images of fitness models or those trying to depict a “perfect” relationship is all a façade that certainly fucks with your mental state. We post something and vigorously check to see how many “likes” we have because it raises the dopamine levels, and somehow, we use that as validation. Or how many times have you started on one page and ended up on your coworker’s boyfriend’s sister’s page with 2 hours lost? Not to mention the unhealthy cyberstalking that can instantly take you out of your positive mood. The first time I did a digital detox, I would click on my IG icon out of complete habit - I wasn’t even thinking. So, I deleted the app from my iPhone to prevent that from happening. You don’t have to delete your account, but taking away the app will allow you to be successful in your detox. When you are not talking up hours of your day by looking at mindless pictures and memes, you are freed up to do many more soul satisfying activities; reading a hardcover book, relishing in the beauty of nature, or having a deep and interactive conversation with a loved one, and that’s all I really am trying to convey in this post. If staying off your phone raises your anxiety levels and you don’t even want to think about it, you are no different than the smoker that needs their first cigarette minutes after waking up. Our phones and social media are wonderful when used properly, but we have to know when it’s time to disconnect and live IRL.