“I’m reclaiming my time!” has to be my favorite quote of 2017 and I am as serious as Auntie Maxine with its usage.
Last month, I met a fellow blogger, was introduced to her blog then read a post that changed my life. For those that aren’t ready to face the man in the mirror, the gist of the post is the sad reality that companies are spending BIG money and great effort to get and keep us addicted to our devices. Shocking! And, like everything else that feels good, we’re falling for it. I guess television, Big Pharma, the food industry and constant encouragement to buy buy BUY aren’t cuttin’ it, uh? We’re quickly becoming (if we’re not already there), a zoned out nation of drones getting high off likes instead of life.
The linked article states that we check our phones, on average, 46 times a day. Let’s say you get a blissful eight hours of sleep; that means in the 16 hours you’re up and at ’em, you’re checking your email, texts, like count, new subscriber count and your friends’ latest posts, etc about three times an hour! That’s e v e r y 20 m i n u t e s, y’all! And you know you’re not logging in for just two minutes! I mean when you break it down like that, it’s pretty gross, right? And it never fails, every time I’m on the highway, someone is swerving, braking in light traffic or driving way under the speed limit; most of the time when I give them a looksie, a phone is in their hand! You’re telling me whatever is on your phone is more important than focusing on operating a two ton vehicle??! Come on!
When did we get here? And how do you know if you’re addicted to social media? I mean I guess if you have to ask yourself if you fit the bill, then most likely you..
After reading this article, I can shamefully say that I am a functioning phone and laptop addict and a part-time social media addict. (It’s a thing.) But why? Unless it’s for advertising, why do we stage photos solely for the gram? Why do we get mad on vacation, or even at the coffeeshop, when there’s no wi-fi? Why are women posting pics of themselves turned around taking booty pics in the bathroom? Why, sis? Whatchu sellin’? I have a few theories:
- Lack of self-worth/confidence booster. I know it’s easy to believe, but somehow I became one of the cool girls in high school. I’m pretty sure it was by association, but still. I realize that what I experienced half my lifetime ago, people are just now getting thanks to social media. (Sidenote: This is a big reason why I’m grateful social media wasn’t a thing when I was in school; At 13, I got my sister’s hand me down Nokia that was solely used to call my parents to pick me up.) They’re racking up cool points and carrying conversations that they never got from their classmates or boyfriends or friends by simply posting a foreign sunset or relatable meme. A thousand
strangersfriends agree with you or they’re telling you you look great, and dammit, it feels great. I would say it’s harmless and natural to want to be seen, heard and praised by your peers, but it can have the opposite effect if your like count is “low.” (See #4 on the linked article.)
- Boredom. Social media is the other battery operated boyfriend (or girlfriend). The wormhole can go pretty deep as you click away and discover, experiencing the entire spectrum of emotions for just a few seconds each. You can be very enlightened, inspired, angered or simply distracted to pass time.
- Fear of missing out (also known as fomo) and not fitting in. Some people get a little smug about reporting the “news” first. Your account has turned into a mini newsfeed, and just like action news, you want be first on the scene. If it happened this morning, it’s old news. If you haven’t heard about it, you’re out of the loop. If you’re not (re)posting the article or photo, you are ignorant and surely know nothing about blank blank blank. All your “friends” went to this event and tagged each other..Didn’t you see my post, girl? My psychology teacher said we love to be included and simultaneously exclude others, which I find to be true at Social Media High School. But really, with all of this incoming information, what percentage of it affects you directly? How does having this knowledge feel? Do you feel obligated to (re)post to prove yourself? Is there some prize to knowing a tiny fraction of everything? If so, I need in.
Life is too short to worry about what people who exist in a free app in your phone think of you. – Debra Lynne
- Vicarious living.
Let’s face it: some people don’t have a life.Social media allows us to be super nosey without being called a creep. I may be one of those people sometimes, or maybe I just take pleasure in seeing seemingly positive people seemingly enjoying themselves? Social media can be like an all-emcompassing, free digital magazine. I’ve definitely been inspired to try a new restaurant or add a country to my bucket list due to social media.
- Habit. I think habit is my biggest reason for my so-called addiction. I don’t even think about it when I pick up my phone. I realize I haven’t logged in today or in a few hours, so I just do it, even if I’m not inspiration hunting or intending to post.
Meeting the author and reading Smartphones are the New Smoking (and me basically questioning my entire adult existence) took place just TWO DAYS after I called my girl Tash for her birthday; neither of us do facebook and she said she loves when people call her with birthday wishes; that means facebook didn’t prompt them. C’mon, y’all! If that ain’t a sign!
She also said she’s trying to maintain better connections outside of the screen. This gem! Who says that? People (I’m talking about GROWN folks, y’all–with debt and kids and 401k’s!) are so quick to say lemme follow you on _____________ instead of exchanging numbers to have tea or lunch–or even just check in sometime. Why??! If I want to connect with your online representative, I should want to connect with you in the physical world first, right?
It’s a virtual reality, my friends. You can be and say whatever you want in social media land. No one has to see your dark, unlikeable side. I know I don’t want social media to get weirder and more intrusive before I get myself together. I’m currently on the no-phone-for-one-day-a-week-challenge and doing more constructive things with all my newfound free time! It’s sad that I didn’t even consider this an option. And it’s sadder that I consider this a challenge, but it’s gotten easier since it’s become more of a habit. Plus now I won’t take it personally when I don’t get a text or call back before yo behind is posting on social media, you know, cuz I won’t be on there.
In closing, I want to offer a few suggestions to those of you who–like me–want to alter their social media + gadget habits for the better. Along with Antres’s suggestions, I recommend we rest our thumbs and:
- Call a friend instead of scrolling through his feed to see what he’s up to.
- By the looks of some of the selfies I see taken inside living quarters, it’s always a good time to clean house. No shade, I’m just sayin.
- Go for a phone-free walk.
- Make a meal or prep your meals for the week.
- Read a book.
I thank the sisters I mentioned for this enlightenment + encouragement. And I thank you all for making blogging much cooler than all other social media platforms combined.
Are you honest enough to say you’re an addict? Maybe you used to be?
Maybe you’re becoming one?!
photo source; no copyright infringement intended