What causes tech addictions?
I love this page on Instagram, full of humorous memes, from cats to satire, expressions to jokes it has it all. Daily dose of happiness. I often share them with my friends and family, what a better way to cheer them up and simultaneously keep in touch. In fact, there’s a friend of mine with whom I just share memes, can you imagine that? A meme friend, there’s no other conversation at all (yea, apart from Birthday Wishes).
So, if I look back and see what this platform has to offer to me, honestly it is mostly memes. I’m no more a big fan of regularly broadcasting my life events, nor am I good at updating myself with the life events broadcasted by other people, but memes: they are irreplacable. The thing I’ll miss the most seeing and sharing, if I happen to disconnect from the platform altogether. They make me happy, releasing a pulse of Dopamine.
Well, we might not register the chemical Dopamine, “as a chemical” but our mind does and forms a pattern.
A pattern that prompts us to dig in for more because it feels good. A pattern that prompts us to get back to the platform, even unconsciously and get happy.
What we discussed above, is one of the experiences of many Instagram users. Well this is not exactly addiction, but a foundational basis of it.
In his book, Indistractable, Nir Eyal has said that tech addiction is not just because of the technology (which indeed is designed to get us “hooked”), but if a person is getting hooked/addicted, there’s something more to it, a more deeper cause. And this resonates, essentially because this is kind of true for any addiction.
Cigarettes are addictive but not everyone who smokes becomes an addict.
So what is it that gets one addicted to cigarettes or say, social media apps? Let’s dig deeper.
Let’s observe, when do you usually get online at random and check your feed?
It might be when you are waiting in a queue, while commuting, while procrastinating on something important, while depressed, while in a meeting or while being in a party with unknown people. There can be more depending on how you choose to use this technology. But do you observe a common thread in all these situations? It’s a level of “discomfort” or “restlessness”. Maybe what you want is not really happening, maybe your need is not immediately fulfilled, maybe the situation is getting awkward. All of these offer resistance, and unconsciously you find it easier to slip into the digital world, getting instant gratifications from the pings and dings.
As Nir Eyal puts it “The reason we get distracted is because of what we call internal trigger, an internal trigger is an uncomfortable emotional state that we seek to escape from, in fact, all human behaviour is driven by the same instinct i.e. desire to escape discomfort”
Most times, these digital platforms offer us that ESCAPE. Escape when situations get difficult to handle or escape when LIFE itself gets too difficult to handle. When you lack the will to face reality as it is, you’re more prone to get drifted away in this digital world of instant gratification. Preferring it over real life and real people, creating a life on the platform, creating an identity on the platform, preferring your social media status over your real life status.
If you are spending your time anywhere more than an hour on the platforms, take a step back and put a WHY right there. What is prompting you to check the platform? When you get a notification, ask yourself, are you serving the trigger or is the trigger serving you?
Here are simple techniques from Indistractable that you can use to take control of your internal triggers that prompt you to get into the ESCAPE mode:
- Look for the emotion preceding distraction: What do you feel (restless, bored, tensed etc.) before clicking that app button.
- Write down that trigger: For retention, the better we are at noticing the behaviour, the better we’ll be at managing it over time.
- Explore your sensations: What does it feel like? Dr. Bricker has invented this technique, you can try
“When feeling the uncomfortable internal trigger to do something you’d rather not, imagine you are seated beside a gently flowing stream, now imagine leaves flowing down that stream,. Place each thought in your mind on each leaf. It could be a memory, a word, a worry, an image. And let each of those leaves float down that stream, swirling away, as you sit and just watch.”
4. Beware of liminal moments: And then there will come times when you would want to give in and resist no more. Use this 10 - minute rule then.
“The 10 minute rule says that when you have an urge to do something you’d rather not, say to your mind that you’ll do it BUT after 10 minutes and the urge is likely to fade away.”
If you feel addicted to tech, try employing these rules. It might be hard in the beginning but you can do it. All you need is self-awareness. Honestly, the world where we are currently living in, self awareness is no more an option, it’s a pre-requisite. Especially, in case of tech, unless you’re fully aware of why you’re doing, what you’re doing the digital wellbeing apps won’t help you much. So, put the WHYs.
Address the root cause, take the control back and break through the addictions. Life is a beautiful thing, not meant to be escaped but rather lived fully and consciously every moment. Let’s strive for that ❤
See you in next post soon. Take care of yourselves!