MENTAL HEALTH: SOCIAL MEDIA ADDICTION

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Are you addicted

to social media?

I was watching a talk on leadership this morning and the man mentioned that this generation spend more time looking at a phone and computer screens than at another human being. It was a throw away comment but it hit me like a ton of bricks.

Do you ever get that? It could be something said in the heat of an argument, a lyric in a song or a passing comment from a friend. One sentence which slices through the noise of your every day life and forces you to reevaluate your perspective. Damn, it can be a powerful thing.

The amount of time I spend on social media and just my phone in general has been bothering me lately, so, I decided to look back on the last few days and see if the above statement was true in my own life. The results were shocking.

The first thing I did when I woke up was check my phone. The last thing I did before I went to bed was check my phone. I had my phone while cooking dinner and I remembered scrolling through twitter as I ate. The scary thing was I couldn't actually remember a time where I was without it for more than half an hour during the last few days. Shit, even my idea of a 'relaxing bath' was scrolling endlessly through social media feeds as the water slowly starts to get cold.

Now I am not saying Social Media is bad. How hypocritical could I be? I'm writing an online blog! I make a living working digitally with music artists, companies and celebrities. This clothing line is  built online. The Our Tiny Tribe online community we are building fills me with more joy every day but again, it is ALL online... I don't think Social Media is bad. We live in a digital age that has allowed us incredible, incredible opportunity. After reflection however, the conclusion I came to was the way I use social media, is definitely, without doubt, bad.

Now i have no idea about social media addiction and I chose not to look into it before writing, half due to laziness and half as not to suddenly overload this blog post with facts and figures. This is just an account of how I feel and what I've found, after looking into my own habits and behaviours.

I use social media because it makes me feel good. It's as simple as that. It makes me feel good about myself. But somehow over the last few months it has become a tool for instant gratification with increasingly negative results. This seem's to be the loop I'm currently stuck in...

1) Sign in and feel the anticipation of incoming information, feedback or reaction.

2) Scroll through twitter, check my emails or click on WhatsApp and gain some type of result which feels good. You know, a nice comment, a positive email. 

3) Satisfaction of the positive result wears off and so the cycle kicks off again.

(I'd just like to point out that i just signed into Facebook, and began scrolling without even meaning too or realising what I was doing. That's a scary, scary reality.)

The issue with this cycle is that the results are not always the same. I'm going to divert slightly here but bare with me. More and more I found myself in a online spiral of comparison and jealousy, another issue i've been working hard on improving.

If I was at home relaxing and saw a friend of mine on Instagram was working late I would feel guilty for not doing the same. I would look at people on Facebook posting about buying a big house and feel lower and less about myself. I would see someone on a expensive holiday and immediately think i was not advancing at a acceptable rate. It's crazy, 24/7 these platforms have become a scrolling feed of peoples 'best bits' portrayed as reality. Day in Day Out. We post contentment and progression while suffer internally with anxiety and doubt. And the craziest thing is even with this knowledge the cycle continues with the hope that maybe this time I'll get the instant gratification I was hoping for. 

With all this in mind I reflected on how my relationship with social media has affected my personality in day to day life. This is what i've found. I'm easily distracted, not content unless i'm bombarded with information. I'm distant to those closest to me, always one half in the conversation and one half online. I have confusing mood swings. How is someone in the real world to know the reason I went from happy to quiet mid conversation is because I saw so and so online having fun on holiday. I am not present. I am never present.

Clearly I can see the negative impact social media can have on my life but what can I do? Remove myself from our online interactions? Change jobs? Live in a cave? Trust me, they all went through my head! But in this world I'm not sure theres any escaping, so instead I have decided to start slow and try set some boundaries, try and readjust my relationship with social media so it's a tool that can elevate and enhance my real life, rather than take it away. These are a few small, simple ideas I had for improving my relationship online that I intend to follow.

1. No Social Media after 9pm

2. No Social Media until I've had breakfast and exercised in the morning.

3.No Social Media at the table.

4.No Social Media while with other people.

Four simple steps that seem ridiculous looking back over them. The sad reality is though that it wont be easy.

David Gibbs