Life Hacks, Tech, Now + Beyond

How to put your phone down, for good

It's easy enough to see how we got here, but unlearning the habit of checking your phone in the middle of an IRL conversation is a lot harder.

I am a social media addict.

No, this isn’t a quirky way of saying that I love social media, because as much as I do catch myself always on it, I learned to hate it.

Social media plays a vital role in fostering interconnectivity, making communication so much easier for us and the rest of the world. While it is effective in its fundamental purpose, the benefits are nothing compared to the drawbacks.

Excessive use of anything has negative repercussions. With the sudden rise of social media and people’s general over-reliance on it, there isn’t any surprise to discover that social media addiction is now considered as a valid, serious condition.

Just like all other types, what qualifies it as an addiction is if the social media activity constantly interferes with one’s productivity, if the urge to do it begins to feel uncontrollable.

I’ve encountered people who used it far more counter-productively than I do. People are so fond of oversharing on social media: what they just ate, where they currently are, their unfiltered opinions that no one asked for. Views and likes have become today’s social currency.

The number of followers you have defines the extent of your influence, and somehow everyone nowadays values being relevant. Attention brings forth validation.

Image description: a man saying "Yes. Well, too much is bad for you."
[Image description: a man saying “Yes. Well, too much is bad for you.”] via giphy.com
I’m not necessarily on that end of the spectrum. I don’t overshare as much as I overuse.

The routine is plain and simple.

Somewhere in between checking my notifications first thing in the morning and staying up until wee hours of the night just going through my ever-busy feed, I compare myself to others way too often than I should. I go through portfolios of established people and wondering when I’ll ever be as admired. I look at someone else’s profile and feel envious of how well they pull off the illusion that they’re all happy and content.

As a result, I find it hard to celebrate my accomplishments because I often see other people who are doing better than I do. Tiring as it is, this so-called routine has become such a hard habit to break.

Ever since before, I become fixated on one thing that would eventually grow into a means for self-destruction. That’s been the routine for so long, and now that one thing is social media. It is my personal black hole.

I reached the peak of this addiction when I began to felt uninterested in replying to personal messages that aren’t urgent, even when they’re from close friends.

It just felt like I was always connected to everyone, and this over-connection triggered my physical “asociality.” I wanted a sort of detachment from my own circles, to function as a Nick Carraway of the world. Eventually, I got just that. Not only did I like the safe distance, but I also thrived in it.

I was on social media, connected to the rest of the world except for my own. It was the perfect place for a budding writer: immersed but detached.

However, at the same time, I was losing friends at an alarming rate. What bothered me more was how indifferent I was. I often convince myself that this was a resolution to my social media problem, but the truth was that it was just an aftereffect – something that I also find hard to control.

At the beginning of 2018, I decided that I need to intervene and do something to get over this addiction. I tried to fix this by uninstalling my mobile apps. That worked out rather well, for some weeks or so. Even my therapist thought that it was a wise move. However, I realized that moderation might not be enough to correct this type of problem.

Okay, so how do you overcome social media addiction?

The ideal thing to do is to completely deactivate existing accounts.

Personally speaking, I still haven’t gotten to that part, but I intend to. Nobody tells an alcoholic to cut down on alcohol bit by bit. People who try to get over nicotine over-use by trying to smoke fewer sticks each week are less likely to succeed.

Image description: Neil Patrick Harris saying "Stop it"
[Image description: Neil Patrick Harris saying “Stop it”] via giphy.com
The thing about getting over social media is that very few will commit to helping you when you’re at the onset of relapse because social media use isn’t widely considered as harmful. We fail to recognize the magnitude of its influence. This is why we find it hard to control it, so much so it has managed to turn things upside down.

Now, we are the ones controlled by social media.

Social media can most definitely make or break us, depending on how we use it.

With excessive and prolonged use and dependence, it can undermine one’s mental well-being. Perhaps the only way to surviving it is to acknowledge how powerful of a tool it truly is and to realize that there is a need for more thoughtful criticism of such platforms.

Whether you are better off to stay online with the necessary moderation or to finally deactivate your accounts is entirely up to you.