Not so long ago I talked about being addicted to social media. I'd like to say my addiction is something I have managed to knock on the head and I am now scrolling at acceptable levels - but nope, the addiction is as strong as ever, if not worse. From eye strain to 'texters neck', I continue to find myself scrolling aimlessly through Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, opening and closing them one after the other, rinse and repeat. By aimlessly, I mean I'm not even interacting with what I'm seeing, I'm not engaging with any of it, no likes, no comments. It's not just aimless - it's pointless! So here I am once again, trying to figure out how to break this evil social media ball and chain and come out the other end with my eyeballs still in my head and my thumb not in a sling.
Recently, I went on one of my most hardcore social media detoxes to date. And I was buzzing. It's sad to think you can get to 30 years of age and be proud of not spending time on your phone. But that's what happened. For 4.5 days my phone became nothing but a camera and a restaurant finder, and occasionally, a map, as I spent a week wandering around the Lake District. I'd intentionally not scheduled any blog posts or tweets, so there was nothing to check, and I muted all of my group chats, only popping in if some tagged me or messaged me one on one. I didn't watch any YouTube (that's another addiction for another time!) or upload a single snap to Insta until well after we got home. It was so refreshing. Reading books, talking to my family, watching a film with my phone nowhere near my hands, it might not sound like much but think about the last time you did any of those things without your phone in sight.
The problems started when I got home. Bags unpacked, post-holiday wash on, take away ordered, I sat down on the couch and thought ok, let's have a 'quick' look at what I've missed. Quick. Yeah right. Queue a couple of hours later and I was still in the same position on the couch, take away devoured around me, it was like the detox had never happened. And in the weeks since coming home? It's gotten so much worse. My eyes are sore, I'm getting headaches, I'm reaching for my phone from the minute I wake up to the minutes before I go to sleep. I've fallen face first right back into my old habits and even added a bit on for good measure. Urgh.
So here I am again. Hi there. My name is Sarah and I am addicted to scrolling through my phone for no reason.
Like that moment of realisation in every Black Mirror episode when it suddenly dawns on the protagonist that technology has in-fact taken over and ruined their life. They race to find a way to break free before it's too late - that's how I'm feeling right now. Hear that creaking and straining folks? That's the cogs turning in my head. They do that sometimes!
The daily social media detox.
Wanting to break this damn habit for good, I've come up with a couple of rules I'm going to start to apply daily. Sure, a week here or a weekend there of detoxing is good for everyone, and I can't encourage people enough to do just that. But when scrolling and social media habits start to become the be all and end all of your day, it's time to find way to hit the kill switch and take a step back.
1. No social media before lunch!
This one is easy enough to do in the week when I'm at work, but weekends will be difficult. Usually when I wake up, I do a quick check through my WhatsApps and my social feeds, I don't necessarily reply to anything, but I look none the less. I'll check in a couple of time before work, then again on my morning break. Well, that all (hopefully) ends here. I'm going to try and restrict myself to not opening up a single social media app, or WhatsApp unless someone has tagged me or messaged me one on one until my lunch break. As for weekends, I might just have to chuck my phone in the bread bin until lunch time.
2. No phones at meal times!
This sounds like something you'd read on a 'house rules for unruly teenagers' printable, but it's true. Whether I'm at home or out, no more phones out at meal times. YES, I will allow myself a quick snap, once a blogger, always a blogger, but once the photo's have been taken then the phone gets put out of sight, out of mind. There's nothing more distracting than when you're putting down the fork and picking up the phone in-between mouthfuls of food - and even worse when you're dining with someone doing just that!
3. 9pm and out!
I usually go to bed around 11pm-ish, and they say you should avoid anything with a backlight for at least 2 hours before going to bed. So that's what I'm going to try and do. It doesn't help that 9pm seems to be the best time for me to update my Insta during the week, but I think the hardest thing to avoid after 9pm will be the WhatsApp chats! So I'm going to say this is a Sunday - Thursday rule, after all, if you can't break the rules for the weekend, when can you?
4. Scroll with purpose!
My thinking here is that I should only be scrolling as and when I’m posting. So when I post to Insta, I give my feed a little scroll, have some meaningful interaction with those I follow and the hashtags I’m using, and have a quick look for some new accounts to follow. If I do pop on with no intention of posting, I will still make a point of commenting/interacting instead of just letting my eyes glaze over as my thumb goes ten to the dozen!
5. Download a monitoring app!
You know those apps that tell you how much time you’ve been spending on different apps on your phone? I had one ages ago and it actually stopped me from opening certain apps as much but for some reason, I deleted it. Was it making me feel guilty? Holding me accountable for my random app abuse? I’m going to download it again - so watch this space because I’ll be giving it a write up in the future too (because did it really happen if it didn’t make it into a blog post?).
Could you do with a break from looking down and start looking up more for a change? Or are you someone who has somehow mastered the art of hardly picking up their phone (tell me your secrets!)?
Until next time,
Header Image: @robman
2nd Image: @rawpixel
3rd Image: @elijahsad