I deleted Facebook and Instagram off my phone 5 weeks ago. Social media had become compulsive. White noise in my head, feeling tired and wired scrolling through endless content. All my old lives haunting me.
Since becoming a Mum I’ve felt my values and identity begin to shift, and looking at my social media somehow made me feel stuck. I decided to take a break and take some time to reflect about the purpose of social media and whether it’s useful to me.
Here are some of my reflections, and some questions to ask yourself.
Why am I on social media?
I am there to connect with friends and to show & tell my creative projects to inspire others.
Does the way I use social media reflect this?
No. I scroll too much and when I scroll I see a stream of uncurated content, old friends who I am no longer in touch with and celebrities I am no longer interested in.
How can I use social media in a way that reflects my purpose?
Use the messenger function to directly contact friends. Ask close friends to send me photos/projects directly so I can enjoy them. Have a designated day/time when I check the apps (eg 5pm on Tuesday) so I don’t keep compulsively checking it.
Since having a little break I’ve noticed how addictive social media is. Addictions are used to numb and distract ourselves. As opposed to connection, community and creativity which allow us to process and grow.
During this break I have watched myself time and time again pick up my phone and I ask myself “what are you going to do on your phone?” And my answer most often is “I don’t know” because I’m really just using it for distraction and numbing.
I spoke to a few friends about their relationship with social media and found that there are many positives which can outweigh the negatives, it’s all about how you use it.
It’s proven now that notifications on your phone give you a little dopamine hit, the same as a hit of cocaine;
“Studies have shown that the constant stream of retweets, likes, and shares from these sites cause the brain’s reward area to trigger the same kind of chemical reaction seen with drugs like cocaine. In fact, neuroscientists have compared social media interaction to a syringe of dopamine being injected straight into the system.” Addictioncenter.com
In this article by addictioncenter.com they also explain that social media addiction can cause similar negative effects to our psyche as other addictions. For example mood modification, withdrawal symptoms and relapse.
I have definitely seen these in myself and I really don’t want to live like that.
In a conversation with my friend Emily J from Equalize Music we concluded that the way forward could be navigated by using connection, authenticity and consciousness as our guiding stars.
For me the best steps in this are;
1- Not having the apps on my phone, as otherwise it’s too easy to reach for.
2- Before I go on social media, decide what my purpose is. Is there someone I want to message? Is there a new creative project I want to share? Why am I going on Instagram or Facebook?
3- Set a timer on my phone. Decide in advance how long I want to be on there and then turn it off when the alarm goes.
4- Spend my time in curated spaces - Facebook groups are dedicated to one purpose. Eg. I’m in the Singing Mamas group and I use it to stay inspired with my singing and song sharing journey.
It’s time to use discipline. Sometimes people find this word a bit harsh or cruel. The word “discipline” conjures an image of a cruel school teacher who will punish you. But, the root of the word “discipline” is “disciple” which comes from the Latin “discipulus” and means student, learner or follower. One of the earliest places for the word to show up was in the bible, to be a disciple of Jesus.
I would rather be a disciple of creativity and connection than a disciple of Mark Zuckerberg!
When I choose not to compulsively go on social media I make more time and space in my life. If I allow myself to feel boredom (something people seem to be afraid of these days) and if I sit with the boredom my mind eventually gives me something fun to do. The past month there has been more time for sewing, singing, writing and dreaming about how I want to live my life as a new mum.
Social media is designed to be addictive! So if you want to change you need to find some inner discipline!
How do you feel about the way you use social media?
Have you got any tips or tools which make the way you use it better?
Please comment below