This week marked a year since the death of celebrity host, Caroline Flack. We were all shocked to witness the devastating impact that social media can have. Indeed we all shouted ‘Be Kind’ from the rooftops. But one year on, have we gotten any kinder to each other or are we right back where we started?
Having recently deleted my Twitter app I can tell you that we are worse now than ever before. As informative as the app is with regard to current affairs, watching the comments that people write under other people’s posts is absolutely disgusting and had me questioning all fate in humanity.
With anxiety levels on the rise, we must examine the impact that social media is playing. Our mobile phone usage has increased dramatically over the past year and so it begs the question, how much of a role is social media playing in our unhappiness? We are a generation who have completely and wholeheartedly lost the art of being present. Today is the day for a wake up call. Here are my 13 signs that you need a social media detox:
1. You are Growing Apart
Is your relationship strained? Do you spend most evenings with your partner on one couch and you on the other with your phones in front of you? Do you use your phone while you are having a meal together? Dare I ask it, do you both use your phones in bed?! The truth is, something will have to go! The only question left is will it be your phone or your relationship?
2. Problem with your nerves!
We often use the expression that someone has ‘a problem with their nerves’ when they can’t sit still. But do you have a nervous disposition when it comes to your phone? Do you get slightly fidgety when your phone is not in sight? Are you unable to happily sit in one room knowing your phone is in another? Are you unable to leave the house for an hour without your phone? If you have answered yes, you may have an unhealthy and even addictive relationship with social media.
3. Feeling Low
There is vast research with regards to the impact of social media on your mental health. Social media in most instances is a fake bubble where everyone’s lives appear to be perfect. When we spend too long looking through fake unattainable images, it understandably leaves us feeling very low. When we are constantly looking at someone else’s life, it can sometimes make it hard for us to feel grateful for our own. Pay attention to when you feel low. If you feel particularly low after an hour of scanning through your phone, there’s your answer.
4. You’ve become quite cynical
Social media creates a very high bar for what our lifestyles should look like and the standards that we should attain. The longer we spend on social media the more cynical we can become. And the number one person we will criticise is ourselves. Have you found yourself becoming quite self-critical and feeling like you are not enough? Are you constantly feeling like you should be reaching a higher bar? You need to detox in order to get a reality check. That bar that you are trying to attain is not real.
5. Your phone is telling you!
Is your weekly ‘Screen time report’ pop up the most shameful notification of the week?! The average daily screen time throughout lockdown has been upwards of 4 hours! Go to your settings and check the details. What apps are you spending all that time on? If you are upwards of 2 hours a day on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter combined, you definitely need a break. Think of all of that dead time. An average of 4 hours a day is 1,500 hours a year! You could literally write a best selling novel or start your own business in that time.
6. You take your phone to the toilet
I really don’t need to say anymore! Do you bring your phone to the toilet with you? Are you willing to risk electrocution to check your phone in the bath or the shower?! If the answer is Yes you may as well skip straight to the conclusion!
7. You never told me that!
How often does your partner or family member say ‘I told you that already’ and you have no recollection of any conversation ever taking place?! If social media is continuously causing you to tune out of your real life that is going on around you, you need an immediate detox.
8. You’re fishing for likes
We’ve all done it. I’ve gotten a lot better with age (and hopefully a bit of extra wisdom thrown in!;)). How often do you put up a nice filtered post or a story and then check your phone every few minutes to see if anyone new has liked it?! I’ll go one further – Have you ever planned what the social media post is going to look like before you even go for the walk, go out for that coffee or whatever it may be? We should be living our lives for us and us alone. Your content should be for you to share with your family and friends if you so wish. Who cares how many likes it got from people that you have not met in years or possibly have never met at all!
9. What the hell are you watching?!
Do you regularly catch yourself 7 minutes into some stupid video that popped up as a suggested watch? A video that you don’t really care about whatsoever but yet you feel the need to put everything else including real life conversations on hold until you are finished?
10. You’re full of Notions!
Are you counting your followers? As my mother would say, are you becoming full of notions?! Are you unfollowing people so that you can have a nice aesthetic balance of who follows you versus who you follow? Think about how self important that sounds! Similar to the fishing for likes, social media massively triggers one of our basic human needs which is recognition. Many of us are on a quest for some sort of ridiculous social media validation or status. And if we are agreeing that social media is a fake world, then we are pining for fake validation! In possibly the best movie quote of all times – ‘If you are not enough without it, you will never be enough with it’. How about we concentrate on recognising and validating ourselves instead.
11. You’re no longer the sharpest pencil!
Right apologies if this offends anyone. I can only speak for myself! I certainly notice that a very large majority of social media content, especially facebook videos and posts, can cause a big hit to my IQ levels! Have you noticed that your grammar levels are decreasing? Is your only educational conversation reserve some crap that you saw on Facebook? It’s time to put down the phone and pick up a book or a newspaper!
12. You have written a nasty comment
Call me naive, but I genuinely believe that we are not bad people. We are all very good people that sometimes think bad thoughts and make bad decisions. That is human nature. But when you start acting on those negative thoughts and leaving nasty social media comments, that is a definite sign that you need an intervention. Would you want someone to speak to you like that? Would you ever speak like that to someone in person? Did you leave a nasty comment to someone just to try and get likes and attention for yourself? Do you no longer actually care about other people at all? That’s what living in a virtual bubble away from the real world will do to you. Step away.
13. They can’t remember your voice!
Talking to people over whatsapp texts, snapchats and instagram messages is not communication. If you have gone days (possibly even weeks) without speaking to your friends or family in person, that is going to have a big impact on your mental health. Clearly with lockdown we cannot get out and about to meet people. But we can Facetime, leave Whatsapp voice notes, Zoom or even pick up the phone and call eachother. There is absolutely no comparison between sending a text and hearing someone’s familiar, supportive voice. Even better if its someone that can make you laugh. Laughter is the best medicine after all!
Your results are in! Have you answered yes to many or most of the above? If so then you (like myself!) definitely need a social media detox. Apart from the nasty comment, I definitely would have answered yes to all of the above at one stage or another. But what does a detox mean and where do we start:
Don’t go Cold Turkey
Suddenly removing social media altogether most likely will not be the right approach. Let’s be realistic, to go from 100 to 0 will cause a shock to the system. Furthermore, social media isn’t all bad. There are some benefits such as keeping contact with overseas relatives, business purposes etc and therefore complete elimination is unrealistic.
In the article 8 Reasons why you need to Quit Multitasking Right Now, Anna Lehane Coaching noted the very positive impact of applying a 25/5 rule. This allows you to check your phone twice an hour but gives you full 25 minute blocks for getting productive work done. Put the phone out of sight, focus for 25 minutes and then enjoy your few minutes of social media time knowing you had progressed whatever it is you were working on.
Kick all those people out of your bed!
It’s no wonder we can’t sleep. When we play with our phones last thing at night, we are actively keeping our mind engaged. It’s no wonder it takes a lot longer to fall asleep. And what do we do if we can’t fall asleep? We start playing with the phone again! Leave your phone and all of your followers outside of your bed. Stop using your phone at least one hour before you go to bed. In the morning, do not check your phone before you even get out of bed. You’ve invited all of those people and all of their drama into the bed and into your headspace before you even put your feet on the ground! That’s a sure fire way of affecting your form for the full day. Leave it where it is and start your day on a high.
Mute Mute Mute
I highly recommend that you detox your social media space itself. If someone’s pages/posts are making you feel bad, causing a bit of head wreck or are just not bringing you positive vibes – mute them. They are not going to know you muted them. Similarly on Facebook you can stay friends with someone but hide their updates from your feed. If someone’s posts are stimulating a negative feeling every time you see them you need to get them off your feed and out of your headspace. Similarly with any annoying pop up pages or adverts, hide them and get them out of your space. You will be very pleasantly surprised with the difference it makes.
Family & Friends
Replace the daily logs of cold texts with a weekly voice call with your close friends and family members. It will give you something to look forward to, it will cut out a log of the unnecessary over and back texts and it will be significantly more enjoyable and better for your mental health.
Talk to Someone
This is without doubt the most important point. If you are feeling very low please reach out to a loved one or speak to an experienced independent person who can work with you to get to the root of your unhappiness and help you to put a transformation plan in place.
Have you found this post useful? Did you admit that you need a social media detox? Have you tried a social media detox and have some great tips to share? I’d love to hear from you. As always, we are all in this together.
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