Have you developed your phone identity? Your happiness depends on it.
I’m beginning to consider my social media / phone usage as a health issue.
I recently discovered that the average cell phone user touches their phone 2600 times a day…or around 100 active sessions. Study after study show a direct correlation between passive social media browsing and lower levels of subjective well being.
Blah blah…stats like these never drove me to take conscious action.
But, I’m finally ready to.
As I browsed my feed for the first time in 30 days, I was overwhelmed with the renewed sense of how little joy and relief it brought me.
I have been keenly aware of social media’s primary role as a distraction for some time, but had become numb to how it made me feel to pick up the phone and browse.
Don’t get me wrong…I don’t think everything needs to be a generative, growth based activity.
The mind needs respite and will naturally try to escape the focused state that is required throughout the day for something that is easy.
The important thing I took from this experience was a renewed recognition of how browsing truly makes me feel, which is ultimately pretty empty…and not in the buddhist meditating on grassy hill kind of empty.
From this place, I was motivated to start thinking about my desired behaviors for the phone and social media.
I love the idea that we are what we do consistently.
As it pertains to our health, we often construct our identity around behaviors that we desire to maintain for ourselves.
“I don’t eat bread or processed foods”
“I try to work out at least 2–3 times a week”
“I need at least 7 hours of sleep”
We set these loose regimens because it is straightforward to appreciate these things as fundamental to our overall well being.
I think we need to throw the phone into this category so we can combat these “weapons of mass distraction.”
For many of us, me included…our online personas and devices are one of the most prevalent influences on our emotional state of being. Again, 2000 plus touches a day!
Yet, I’ve never developed a firm “identity” around how I want to use social media and the phone on a consistent basis…
Surprisingly, it only took me a few minutes and two questions to establish a foundational sense of how I wanted to be in this part of my life.
So, here they are.
To develop your phone identity, ask yourself two questions:
“What don’t I want to do as it pertains to my social media and phone usage.”
- Phone doesn’t go into the bedroom at night.
- I don’t follow feeds like barstool or the FatJew because I generally feel like a gross human being after consuming their content.
- I don’t check insta or fb at work.
A great way to keep yourself accountable is by creating “positive punishment” for yourself…mine is that if I break a phone rule, I can’t eat refined sugar that day.
Or, maybe you force yourself to workout if you break your own rules.
“What behaviors do I WANT to repeat with my device and on social media”
- I want to actively comment and like posts that I enjoy (research shows this can transform the impact social media has on subjective happiness)
- I do want to share authentic posts about what has been helpful in my own life
- I want to post at least one novel thought a day on Twitter to keep my brain active
I’m not an absolutist, and of course I stray from time to time…but it is important to articulate these desired behaviors.
When we put our attention on our intentions, they tend to become our reality.
The smartest people on the planet are building technology with the purpose of sucking you into it as much as possible.
At the end of the day, most people building the apps on your home screen care more about how many times you picked up your phone, than how happy you are.
If you don’t take a stand and articulate your phone identity, these engineers and designers will happily do it for you.
Are you using social media and the phone…or are they using you?