Am I addicted to social media? I mean, I check Facebook and Instagram every morning BEFORE I meditate. That’s right. Before I spiritually reset my mind and body to conquer the day, I take a mandatory scroll through my timelines. Mainly to see how well my posts from the previous day have performed overnight. But also to find out what’s happening in the world. For example, by 7:10 this morning, I’d already seen Janet Jackson’s video announcement of her pregnancy. That’s approximately 30 minutes before my fiancé shared the news with me after his shower. I was on the cutting edge of breaking celeb news before my feet even touched the floor.
If you include social bookmarking sites like Digg and StumbleUpon, I’m a member of at least 15 social media networks. And yes, I use them ALL every day. And remarkably, I still have time for life’s simple pleasures like human interaction, binge watching, and eating.
But is it too much?
“If you include social bookmarking sites like Digg and StumbleUpon, I’m a member of at least 15 social media networks.”
I had a hunch that I might be a little more involved than the average joe when I created a social media management Excel spreadsheet complete with a 30-day planning calendar for each network. I know, that sounds absolutely insane, but it’s a tremendous part of my business model. As a writer and fledgling web entrepreneur, social media is the lifeblood of my core business. Because of my reach, I’ve been able to connect with followers, business partners, collaborators, and potential mentors that I never would’ve had access to. I’m able to share my writing all over the world. I have the ability to share all of my creative projects with an audience that trumps the immediate reach of my friends and family. It’s a lot of work. But it’s absolutely necessary for me to succeed.
Social media addiction isn’t a proven psychological problem just yet. But people are suffering from it. The average American spends close to 5 hours a day on their phone, and much of that time consists of social media use. And the problem is growing. Take for instance a piece published on Fast Company’s site back in January. The story details how the writer underwent unconventional treatment through the therapy app, Talkspace, to treat the undiagnosed affliction. In this piece, the writer reflects on how social media habits (i.e. checking in on high school friends’ Facebook pages, being attacked by trolling commenters) affect us IRL. While the writer didn’t truly have a serious problem, it’s apparent that many people do.
They build their definition of success based on what they see in their news feeds. They feel an unwavering pressure to live up to the version of their lives they’ve curated across various networks. Their everyday lives are filled with and influenced by online interactions.
“If you feel like you can’t function as a normal person because of what social media has done to you, you should probably seek help.”
By all means, if you feel like you can’t function as a normal person because of what social media has done to you, you should probably seek help. Or at least insert some phone-free time into every day so you can peacefully go off the grid.
For me, I feel the effects of my extreme social media involvement at times. When my blood boils after someone leaves a nasty comment. When I still find myself checking likes or views or impressions while laying in bed at night. I sometimes feel like I can’t focus on a TV show for a full 60 minutes without checking my phone at least a dozen times.
But my social media usage isn’t tied to my self worth. I understand that much of what happens online is a separate world from the life I live. I try my best to avoid negativity, and I most certainly know when I’ve reached my full capacity for the day. I can fully grasp that I need social media for my professional success and some personal enjoyment. But there has to be a point every day where my phone goes black and I take part in something that isn’t being broadcast on a device. Like reading a book. Or having a conversation with someone that’s physically in the room.
“My social media usage isn’t tied to my self worth.”
I’m not addicted. I’m not too involved. Because I understand social media’s place in my life. Because I understand the importance of when to turn it off. I’m methodical in my approach to avoid disappearing into a digital abyss of Love & Hip Hop memes and long lost Oprah clips.
I’m proud of what I’ve been able to achieve through using social media. But I’m also proud of knowing when to power down.