Don’t Be a Social Media Addict

“I am addicted to social media. Not like the ‘Here’s a selfie of me doing nothing’ kind, but a worse kind.  I’m the ‘I can’t get enough news about the news and people talking about the news’ kind.

 

It’s destroying my intellect. I have been obsessed over the last couple months with the current topics ranging from Trump, to gun control, to food regulations, to Comey, to Syria. The problem is that it’s causing me huge anxiety.  I realized as I sit in a hotel in Auckland, New Zealand at 4 am reading all the Twitter feeds, and then the Facebook feeds, and then the news that… I’m addicted.

 

How did this happen?  I preach against this very thing.  It’s amazing how easy it is to get drawn in.  Part of me doesn’t want to quit.  A part of my brain actually wants to know hour by hour what is happening everywhere. I’m certain that if I stop I’ll go through withdrawals.  I know I will.  Right now, I’m fighting the urge to check Twitter one more time to see what’s happening, and to see if someone responded to my response to their oh-so-unimportant Tweet.

 

I’ve noticed in my slip down the social media rabbit hole just how cruel people can be to each other.  It isn’t just disagreement anymore. If you disagree with another’s view on anything, you can’t just disagree, it calls into question everything about their character.  It’s actually quite scary where people are taking this.

 

I don’t want to do it anymore. I have stayed on social media because I think it can be used for good.  People can interact with each other and have fun and be positive.  The problem is, I’m not sure I can do that side and not also get pulled down into the depths of the dark side.   I may need a social media break.  I’m going to stop all social media and all news for the next 7 days.  I commit to not look at anything for 7 days and then I will re-evaluate how that feels.”

 

I wrote that entry in my journal 3 weeks ago.  I took a social media and news break.  For seven days I did no touch anything.  My plan was to gently start again after that week, but a strange thing happened… I got so much happier.  I felt so much calmer.  I could focus so much more on my major definite purpose and my goals.  I was more present with my wife and family.  I was just happier.  So, I have not gone back.  To this day I still have not read any news, and I don’t feel uninformed at all.  News is so ubiquitous today that you can’t help but be in the know.  I hear what’s going on as I walk past a television with the news on, or someone says, “Have you heard?”  Admittedly, I don’t know any details, and there are probably plenty of things I don’t know about.  Isn’t that awesome?!  Why would I need to know?  How does it affect my life?  I heard soon after I got back from New Zealand that a guy walked into a Waffle House and shot some people before a heroic man grabbed the gun and shoved the guy outside. I’m compassionate for those families, but I didn’t watch it hour by hour, minute by minute.  I didn’t watch or participate in the social media onslaught which I am sure occurred about gun control, or crazy people, or whatever the craziness of the day was.   I just kept on with the business important to me and my family.

 

I’m writing this today to remind myself why I quit and why I should continue to avoid social media.   If it makes me happier not to do it, why do I have to keep reminding myself not to?   Because that’s what addicts do… They do the things that destroy their lives.   That’s what it means to be an addict.  I could become a social media addict again.   That cannot happen.

 

I still, to this day, have no news apps on my phone. I look at Facebook long enough to check our closed group page for HCE and occasionally a couple of my other groups.  I don’t scroll and troll.  I try to post on Instagram twice a day.  I avoid Twitter all together.  I’m happier, more content, in a sounder state of mind, and at peace.  I don’t have the vibrate or ringer on my phone ever.  I don’t even have my phone on at night.  I’m proud of how far I’ve come.

 

What’s working? What’s not working? What do I need to change?

 

I’m happy with my social media and news decisions.  I don’t think I’ll change anything.  I may check LinkedIn and Doximity once a week, but that’s about it.

 

I still probably check my email too often.  If I decrease that to twice a day, then I’ll have to find more productive things to do during the time I’m checking email.  I need to get rid of all the emails that I don’t want to come to me and unsubscribe to all of them.  I’ve created a purchase email for that kind of thing.

 

I need electronic free hours and electronic free days.   I think if I had one hour a day that I’m not allowed to have anything electronic near me, and one day, or half-day, a week to do the same, this would take my electronic disengagement to a new level.  I can break the addiction.

 

Living Every Minute,

Dr. Tim

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