Are you in the dilemma of taking a break from social media or not?
How to work on your social media addiction
I left social media for 24 hours and here is what I learned.
Our time on earth is precious
One of the reasons we are doing shorter episodes with my podcast is because I don’t take lightly your time. Our time on Earth is our greatest asset but most of our time goes in front of a computer, a phone, or a TV.
Sad right? We normalized that as normal.
Create more, consume less
We can create the most beautiful solutions, but we are in the loop of consumption. I decided to take on a challenge during the last 100 days of the year. I’ll create content at least in the same amount I consume content, to maintain a balance in my life.
Constantly addicted to social media
I’ve had social media breaks in the past because my addiction to social media was severe. Now, I can leave my phone in my house when I go out. Before I would have a separation anxiety attack like my phone was my kid.
This week, I found my friends are taking breaks from social media which I find as a freeing experience.
Everything started because they watched the Social Dilemma on Netflix, a documentary that I have not yet watched. I don’t watch TV or Netflix. I can imagine, by being close friends with the people behind the algorithms in Silicon Valley. That is about the truth about these free apps and how attention is the new currency.
The Psycology behind habit-forming products
In Hooked, Nir Eyal goes into the psychology behind how we create habit-forming products. Social media apps and algorithms are addictive. And by that, I mean including Netflix that is showing this documentary.
I remembered a conversation with Nir about the ethics of using its habit loops for social media. The habit loop is simple. Everything starts with a trigger, then you have the habit you want to create. Finally, you have the reward that generates dopamine and makes it addictive.
Small things like a ring, alike, or a smile could work like your reward. Every time you are bored or alone could be the trigger. The habit could be grabbing your phone and then go into social media, which is designed to give you dopamine. The reward would come in messages, likes, notifications. It would make it impossible for your biology to act otherwise.
BJ Fogg, habit professor at Stanford and the creator of Tiny Habits says that the best way to break a habit is to have another habit instead. If you are creating a new habit on top of an old one is easier if you start small. Ridiculously small. Like flossing one tooth instead of all your teeth and one adding one tooth per day.
How to self-assess if it’s time for a break
Whether you want to break the habit with social media or with any simple addiction like coffee. I’ll give you some of my pointers to know when I have relapsed and I’m again addicted to social media. When this happens, it’s time to create a new habit.
1. Is social media the first thing you do when waking up?
If the first thing you do when you wake up is grabbing your phone. It’s usually because you haven’t had time to plan the night before. If you check your calendar the night before you don’t need to know grab your phone first thing in the morning.
For me, it’s particularly important to have my phone on airplane mode while I sleep. I don’t touch it after I finish my morning routine that includes a trip to the bathroom, drinking water, stretch, and meditate. For you, it could include other things.
Breaking the relationship I had with my phone was like a breakup. My phone was the last thing I would see before going to sleep, and the first thing I would grab when waking up.
These questions can be used for other addictions like sex, coffee, or sugar.
2. How is the idea of leaving one day your phone or the internet? How is the idea of being without that for a whole day? a week? a month?
If your greatest fear is being without Internet or without your phone or driving without google maps.
I know it was mine. I admire the people who can still remember how to get somewhere without looking at their phones.
The moment I had anxiety because I thought I would get lost, in my own city, because I didn’t have enough battery to look at the map on my phone. I realized I was too reliant on my phone and I took a long phone-break after that.
3. How much time of my day I’m spending on social media?
You can go to your phone and check. The daily average and multiply it times 365 days and then divide it by 24 hours.
If you spend 3 hours daily that’s 45 days of the year. More than a month on your phone.
At my worst, a few years ago I had 6 hours per day of the phone screen. I could have said that it was a tool for my job, at the time I was working on Marketing. We can lie to everyone but not to ourselves. 6 hours a day, means I was wasting 3 months of my year on social media.
4. What would you do with an extra month? What would you do with an extra 3 months?
I’ve taken breaks from social media but always end up coming back. I have a platform and I use it to share my message. However, now my usage is determined by me. I don’t have the notifications on and I decide when to check it as I’m mostly on airplane mode. After breaking the habit of being a slave from my phone, I realized I was still missing one part.
It’s not only not being on social media, for me the question that is more useful for me is:
5. Are you creating more than what you are consuming?
Are you on social media creeping and checking what other people’s content? Instead of creating and sharing things on social media.
This applies no matter how big or small is your audience. To anyone that knows they have a message and want to share it. There is a reason why you are on this earth. You can create and inspire.
For the people that work on social media
Are you sure you are using social media or are you being used by it?
If you realized that you have a problem. Can you outsource your social media duties while you work on your addiction? Could you use a virtual assistant or outsource on Fivver while you work on this?
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