When does a habit turn into a bad habit, and a bad habit turn into an addiction? My husband and I had a very colorful debate about this last week on a beautiful family walk, probably making quite a scene of ourselves to all the other foot traffic on the path – although I was certainly the more dramatic of us.
The case: is social media addictive? Can one be addicted to social media?
Without a doubt, this is true for me. How many times does my finger find that link on my phone, without my conscious decision to start mindlessly scrolling? How much time have I wasted looking at stuff that doesn’t matter, how much attention have I taken away from my kids to read pointless click bait?
I have tried to end my Facebook relationship for years. I haven’t had the app on my phone for at least 2 years, I refused to download the messenger app, and yet the need to read it overpowers my own self-control. I accessed FB through the Safari browser of my phone just as much as I ever did the app- and as I said before, I can’t even explain exactly why it feels so important, so pressing.
So, about a week ago, I made the choice to abstain from any FB access through my phone at all. I have kept this promise to myself. I look at it only through our laptop, and this ends up being only 2-3 times a day. And guess what -I’m just as caught up as ever before. And the need to check in is diminishing.
As I’ve recorded before in this here blog, my life feels far too woven into FB to ever completely quit the beast. Be it events, or the fact FB is my sign-in for various other websites, I don’t see a future where I don’t have an account. This doesn’t mean I have to keep obsessively checking it.
On Friday my husband and I challenged each other to zero social media all day. We did it. He claims it wasn’t hard for him, but I don’t have a problem admitting I wanted to look at my Instagram and check in on the WordPress blogs multiple times. When I found myself in those situations where one used to be perfectly happy sitting in silence, with no distractions (like at stoplights, in grocery store lines, etc etc) I just clicked on my NY Times app and read an article. It worked pretty well. If I’m afraid of silence at least I can fill my time with something that will inform me, rather than that mindless social media chatter I usually fill the time with.
The hubs and I want to keep social-media-free-day as a weekly habit – and I’d even like to extend it into the weekends.
I’m glad this slow withdrawal of FB addiction is working for me. It’s really making me question and notice each time I pick up my phone, what am I looking for, and why. I’m hoping to utilize my personal time better by reading books and the newspaper in these moments where I’d usually fill the time with the “newsfeed” of social media. And, now that I’ve documented my goal here, it feels like a contract with myself to my readers to be more aware. It’s a challenge that I’m proud to tackle and I will continue to fight this addiction as best I can.