It seems a little contradictory that I promote my blog on Social Media. As of 4 weeks ago, I decided to remove all social media from my phone. Twitter – Check. Facebook – Check. Instagram – Check. TikTok – remind this old fart what that is again?
Did I have a religious experience? Nope. Nothing really profound happened. I decided to watch the first episode of Black Mirror on Netflix. It was enjoyable and very thought provoking. This led to a “conversation” between my spouse and I. This is a very loose term and I suppose at minimum the word “heated” should go in front of it! We discussed how much time each of us spent on our devices. I argued, sorry – discussed that I didn’t spend as much time on my phone as was being implied. I’m a man, my knee jerk reaction is always to deny all accountability and then later realize the error of my ways. This is when I decided that I did indeed waste way too much time on my phone.
Do you know what the weirdest thing was? I actually got withdrawal symptoms for the first few days. Like real pangs of discomfort while always reaching for my pocket to check my phone. It was extremely disconcerting. I managed to quit smoking cold turkey almost 20 years ago and quitting social media in some ways seemed worse. I was jittery, cranky and just not myself for the first few days. In truth, this made me more determined than ever to give the constant checking of my phone the boot. How dare a stupid piece of technology take over my life!
I used to justify my behaviour. My voice over business required me to be connected to social media and I needed to react quickly to any post. It was just nonsense. I have never landed a client or job through Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. I was just addicted to that red notification or alarm bell telling me someone had replied to my comment or shared something I had posted. It was like getting a hit from your drug of choice sending endorphins to the brain. It was also egotistical and if I’m honest narcissistic. I wanted to feel important because it made me feel good. I was publishing what I thought was good content but at the back of my head I was yearning for that hit when somebody liked my post.
I now only keep Linked-In on my phone. This is solely for business and I don’t have notifications turned on, so I have no idea if someone has liked, shared or is trying to connect with me. I have to open the app and check this manually. I do still have Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts and I do use the browser versions on my desktop, but I try and limit this exposure to only a one or two times a day. And I’m strict about it. And guess what, the extra time that has been gained from not checking my phone has been used for my personal fitness. I now run most mornings and have lost 14 pounds since the lockdown hit.
I now have a very uneasy feeling about the whole social media thing. I see that it is harming us more than it is helping us. I see families out at restaurants, and they all have their phones out. When my kids come round to visit, I catch everyone on their phones when we could be having wonderful discussions. The world is now more polarized than ever since keyboard warriors are now dictating the news cycle. But I am an eternal optimist. I think there may be a tipping point and the constant face in front of phone may eventually become socially unacceptable. If not, we may not be as far away from that first episode of Black Mirror as we think…..