“I fear the day that technology will surpass human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.” ~ Albert Einstein
Sometime after the new year, I finally came to terms with the fact that I have an unhealthy addiction to my cell phone and Social Media. I realized it was an addiction when I noticed that the first thing I would do when I woke up was grab my phone and scroll. I would constantly check my feed while on my commute to classes, on the train, while eating, while relaxing at home watching TV, and of course before bed. Most of the time after scrolling I felt drained and inadequate; and yet I would still check my feed dozens of times throughout the day and night. Something needed to change! So I decided to un-install all social media from my phone and try not to check Facebook or Instagram for the entire month of February.
I have to admit something, I cheated…….a lot. I still checked my Facebook on my home computer from time to time. I would also re-install Instagram here and there even for just a few minutes, then I would un-install it again and get angry at myself for being so weak! I am somewhat disappointed with my lack of willpower, especially with something so silly……but maybe it isn’t so silly.
When we think of addictions, we think of things like drugs and alcohol, food, cigarettes, gambling, etc; but perhaps we should also consider that many of us are addicted to constantly looking at our smart phones, checking our social media feeds. I definitely think that there are lots of benefits to having all this technology at our fingertips, however when does it become an unhealthy addiction?
I am old enough to remember a time before social media, before cell phones and computers and Internet. I remember having just one TV in the house with 13 channels and rabbit-ear antennas that had to constantly be manipulated to get a good picture. Not that I want to go back to that, but I do remember being happy. I survived. Not only did I survive, I thrived! Technology and the information that can so easily be shared at a touch of a button has definitely changed the framework of our culture for the better…..but in some ways perhaps for the worse.
Throughout the month of February, even though I was unable to kick the social media habit 100%, I did cut back a lot, and I noticed some unsettling things. Everywhere I went, almost everyone I saw had their heads down in their phones. Every now and then I would glance to see what they were doing and most of the time I saw the familiar screens of Instagram and Facebook as well as a few others I was not so familiar with, like Tinder, Twitter, etc. I teach yoga, and sadly, it is not uncommon to see students checking their phones during class. I see people walking across busy streets with their heads down in their phones when they should be looking ahead. I see people driving, eating at restaurants, walking their dogs, shopping, basically doing almost every activity you could think of, all while looking at their cell phones.
I can’t help but think of a book I read a while ago called “Cell” by Stephen King. In this book, an event called The Pulse causes all those who were using their cell phones to become zombies, attacking and killing anyone in their way. Needless to say the majority of the population in the book was hypnotized and doomed. Good thing it’s only fiction.
I came to the conclusion that this addiction, like any addiction, is going to take some time to break. That being said, I have decided to take another month off and make it my true intention to completely step away from all Social Media. I will focus on being present with my surroundings, read more, practice more yoga, meditate more, be more productive in general and just really live in the moment. Hopefully, by April, I will have a healthier relationship with social media….as well as have some encouraging insights to share with you. Until then, be kind to each other.