Picture this utopian vision: You go about your days much as you do currently, but with a massive decrease in the level of distraction, agitation, and possibly narcissistic levels of self-importance. In the place of this chaotic noise, you will have free space to… Think! Dream! Plan! Write! _______! (<—- fill in with some remotely useful verb)
How can you achieve this relative nirvana? [Drum roll, please….]
DELETE SOCIAL MEDIA APPS FROM YOUR PHONE.
I’m old enough a fogey that Facebook is really the only social media that I use regularly. I’ve never gotten into Twitter, and could barely tell you the difference between – or relative utility of – Instagram, Tumblr, SnapChat, etc. I saw a play recently in which a character referred to Tinder as “the apocalypse,” and from what I’ve heard, I would probably agree. In any case, earlier this year, consumed by frustration stemming from the toxic political contretemps occurring on old-fashioned Facebook and its formerly somewhat entertaining NewsFeed, I deleted the app from my phone. And lo and behold… Peace! It wasn’t until I deleted the app that I realized how reflexively I checked it during the day, anytime I was standing in line, or during a break in class, or at a red light, etc. And each time I checked I would get irritated about something, or I’d get caught up in reading comments to something I had posted, contemplating my response to this person or that as I went to my next appointment, frantically taking the phone out in a spare moment to counter quickly some bonehead’s stupid comment, lest s/he think I would let such fallacious aburditude sit there unremarked upon! And even when I wasn’t in the mood to light it up on politics, I’d just start clicking the link to some interesting story, which would take me to another link, which would prompt a Google search to ‘fact check’ a bit of what I was reading before… In general my mind would become engaged in all manner of useless activity, taking up a significant chunk of free thinking time.
Ugh. Writing about it now, I’m quite certain you couldn’t pay me to reinstall the Facebook app.
I’m not saying y’all need to disconnect from Social Media (heaven forbid!). Though, now that I think about it, several of my favorite and closest people in life are not plugged into ANY of these applications on ANY device. Bless them! For the rest of us, I’m merely proposing that if you want to engage, then try doing so only through your laptop being open in a wireless environment. And for me, when my laptop is open, I’m working anyway, and I’m far less likely to hit the Facebook bookmark and get sucked in. The rest of the day, sans laptop, I’m blissfully unplugged from it all. Sure, I check the news, the sports updates, deal with email, text, business stuff, that kind of thing. But the massive, often mindless, social media swamp doesn’t get near me, and I have found myself far happier for this fact.
There are several people I know who post to Facebook (if not several other apps) several times a day, writing hundreds or even thousands of words in posts and comments – EVERY DAY. I would humbly submit that if this describes you, you may have a problem and you should just step away from it all and get to what’s important in life.
But beyond those who have ‘social media addiction,’ and experience its very real, very deleterious effects, I’m talking to the probably far larger group of people who just get sucked into their phones every possible spare second, and my guess that social media applications are probably garnering a large fraction of that attention.
Delete them. Trust me. It’s a happier, more productive day without them. Then at the end of the day, with a glass of wine (if not something stronger), go ahead and get your social media fix via the laptop.