I was at a 40th birthday party this weekend at a lovely restaurant and I looked up from the menu and saw half the guests including the birthday girl on their phones. I can understand when you are alone waiting for the bus, lunch companion, or for an appointment to be on your phone checking various social media sites or holding simultaneous text message conversations but at a celebratory event where we all know each other, why would we resort to engaging in social media rather than with each other? I not only said this to myself but I asked this question out loud to my companions. The dialogue when something like this:
Me: Why in a room full of people would we rather be on Facebook rather than conversing with each other?
Friend #1: Easy FOMO!
Me: Pardon me?
Friend #1 Fear Of Missing Out
Friend #2 But what about the stuff you are missing right now in your real life while you are checking into the virtual world?
Friend #1 Doesn’t count!
The absurdity of that statement hit me like a ton bricks. Missing out on the moment in real time no long counts, its all about what you are posting, liking, and sharing and what the social media worlds sees you posting, liking and sharing.
The sad part in all of this is, that for those who suffer from an addictive personality disorder the need to check in becomes all consuming , hindering ones ability to lead a balanced, heathy and productive life. Studies have shown that for some, checking into any type of social media releases endorphins not unlike those released when drinking, eating, taking drugs or even having sex. More often than not, those who have become addicted to social media (in the true sense of the word) usually suffer from other secondary addictions. Addiction to social media is relatively new, and suggestions on how to deal with this addiction range from scheduling for social media time to unplugging from the medium entirely. In fact, there is one site called 99 Days of Freedom an “online study on how life without Facebook impacts user happiness” as of 5 minutes ago 45356 people were trying to overcome their Facebook addiction.
Have we come to the point where social media (and I use the term in the broadest sense) has become a necessity like food? Can we be expected to just disconnect and still be viable in this technological age of ours? In order to help the social media addict do we have to create a therapy that includes the consumption of social media in limited measured quantities in addition to, addressing the psychological and physiological stressors?
We’ve put together some strategies which may help to lessen your dependency on social media:
- Create a schedule and time limit, follow it faithfully. By setting a specific time to check your email and social media sites you will eventually become less preoccupied with what’s being sent liked and shared. Use an alarm clock to time your session and DO NOT USE THE SNOOZE BUTTON.
- Take small social media sabbaticals. Unplug yourself from your social media for a 24hour period once every two weeks, this will serve as a mental detox of sorts.
- Do not engage in mindless social media. Make sure when you are checking in you’re are not being sucked onto other sites, wandering aimlessly on the internet for hours watching frolicking puppies. Mindful social media practises like mindful eating, will let you enjoy the best social media has to offer without the added calories.
- Post with intent. Before you post or share the meme which claims you’ve achieved a zen like state of happiness for the twentieth time, first think to yourself am I doing this to show everyone I am really happy and do I need to tell them this 20 times?
Social media has become part of our lives whether we like it or not, and some of us have chosen to fight back and not engage in this medium, they are like those people when I was growing up who never owned TV’s. The truth is social media can be a good thing easily keeping us connected to family, friends, etc., but engaging in this medium can be all consuming. “If one oversteps the bounds of moderation, the greatest pleasures cease to please” – Epictetus 135 ACE, just as relevant in 2016 as in Ancient Greece.