I’ve had to get real about some bad habits I’ve developed. And it’s kind of funny that I’m posting this a few days after my social media post, but that’s probably also part of the problem.
Basically, I’m on social media too much. I hesitate to call it an addiction, because I don’t know if it meets the same criteria as regards to what is actually going on in the brain, but I am always on my phone. At any free moment, I pick it up and then scroll through a series of five apps (Facebook, Threads, Mastodon, Bluesky, and Tumblr to be specific). And a lot of the time, there’s not even anything new there to see. I’m just checking the way a hungry person might open the fridge a hundred times to see if anything new has appeared. And while I do enjoy interacting with people and have found some great communities I don’t want to leave behind, I’ve got to set limits for myself.
The main problem isn’t any specific type of content I’m seeing, but the fact that it’s making me not present for my everyday life. There have been times when people, like my boyfriend, have been trying to talk to me, but I’m busy looking down at my phone. It’s hurtful to those people, and it’s hurtful to me, when I realize that I’ve sent them the message that they’re not more important than whatever drama is developing on Facebook. The reason I think it might have actual addictive properties is because if I get away from it for a while, I start to miss it. I wonder what’s happening or if there’s anything interesting that can provide a dopamine hit. This is a problem a lot of people have, especially people with adhd. Our phones are dopamine machines, largely because of these apps. I would like to watch a tv show or movie without looking down at my phone the whole time, missing important plot developments. It’s a problem.
I haven’t measured the time I’ve spent this way, but I’m guessing it’s entire days or weeks out of the year. But if I give it up completely, I will feel isolated and alone. I don’t want to lose the connections I have with people online, and I need to have some sort of presence on social media for my career.
But I can put guardrails up for myself. From now on, I will not check social media before 3:00 p.m. on weekdays. And after that, I will let myself have a twenty-minute scrolling session, then set a timer and not do it again for at least 2 hours. This is going to be a huge adjustment, because I tend to grab my phone without even thinking about what I’m doing. So, during the down times, I’m going to give my phone to my boyfriend to guard for me. He will hear if I get a phone call, and I can use it for music while I work and audiobooks while I go for a walk, but when I’m home, the phone is not going to be next to me except in timed intervals for that specific purpose. If I have something important to post, I will give myself 2 minutes to post it and then get out. But really, none of my posts are ever that important. They can wait.
I need to be where I am, engaging with the people in front of me. I’ve always had a problem with not being present, with having my head in the clouds. This just makes that worse. So, if you really need to talk to me, and you don’t have my phone number, send me a direct message and I will get a notification for that (I did already turn my social media notifications off) which my boyfriend will hear, and I will respond to your message. Or leave a message the old way, and just realize it might be a couple of hours before I see it.
I need to break the leash my phone and social media have around my neck. I need healthier boundaries for myself. And I think a lot of people can probably relate to this. If I have some downtime during the day when I am alone, I will read a book. It’s a much healthier way to spend my time.