I was once a slave to social media.
I didn’t want to be, but through years of Pavlovian conditioning I’d been trained to jump at the faintest Facebook pop or Twitter whistle.
The addiction was deeper than that even, I found a quiet comfort in passively scrolling through feeds, liking posts, retweeting and sinking hours of aggregated time a week into an unplanned, ineffective activity.
Social media was simply the pacifier that kept me occupied during the quiet moments, so I could skate through my existence rather than do the hard work of knowing myself. Or investing in myself. Or investing in others. Or simply being.
Some may argue that social media is a wonderful tool to be used to invest in other people you can’t have direct contact with, that it breaks down the barriers of geolocation. I agree, but there’s a subtle point to my addiction: I, like most people, am a passive consumer.
We passively consume social media. I’m not arguing against social media as a whole (as some have recently), but I am arguing that the best path is to choose to be an intentional producer and consumer.
Here’s what that looks like in practice:
- I’ve removed all the social media apps from my phone, tablet, computers…everything. By removing them I am able to choose when I look at notifications rather than jump on alerts reactively. I’m also unable to easily look at social media because now I have to go to the browser.
- I’ve logged out of all my accounts in my browsers and I use incognito / private browsing (links after article to how to use this mode on your device) instead. In using “short session” authentication, my passwords aren’t stored and so my session (ie, being logged in) ends as soon as I close the tab. This increases the barrier to usage even more and quickly reduced the number of times I visited them daily.
- I only visit my social profiles at specific times during the day, times I’ve carved out based on certain criteria: I don’t do it when I’m just sitting around the house. I don’t do it when Elle (my daughter) is awake. I don’t do it during work. I do it when I decide to do it, on my terms, in margin I’ve created specifically for social media.
- If I find something I want to read, rather than open it and reading it, I add it to my Pocket (an app that keeps links for reading later) account so I can proactively, intentionally read what I’m interested in at a time of my choosing (normally in the mornings during my “reading time”).
- Anything I want to share throughout the day goes through Buffer (a content scheduler for social media). I have the buffer app on my phone logged into my accounts so I can easily create content without getting sucked into a feed. It’s the perfect app for being an intentional producer.
I don’t know where you fall along the spectrum of your addiction to the web but I do know that the titans of the web (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, HackerNews, Medium, BuzzFeed…dare I go on?) are fighting for every last drop of our attention. The world is filled with noise; noise that keeps us from being (and pursuing) the best version of ourselves.
I’m encouraging you: reduce the noise. Find what matters. Glow in the Dark.