I am a recovering social media addict. It wasn’t until 2016 that I first started using social media. Prior to that, I had avoided Facebook and Twitter with the same passion that I’d avoided getting a smartphone. As far as I was concerned, social media and smartphones were not things I needed in my life.
Unfortunately, once I started using social media, I was hooked. I opened my first Twitter account, followed my first three celebrity accounts, and left the house to go grocery shopping. My life would never be the same — at least not for the next year or so.
Without a smartphone, it wasn’t until I returned home hours later that I discovered my follower count had swelled from zero to five. That was the moment I knew I’d find my tribe. As luck would have it, I was wrong. My tribe was not on Twitter or Facebook, for that matter.
I dutifully followed back the five Twitter accounts that had followed me in my absence, and it wasn’t long before I was engaging in lively exchanges of tweets with people from around the world. Direct messages quickly followed, and I found myself basking in the feeling of popularity that I had only dreamed of in high school.
Facebook was more of a passive sport for me. While I was an overactive participant on Twitter, I was more of a lurker when it came to Facebook. I examined every post from every “friend,” dissected their photos, evaluated every comment on every comment on every comment. And I did it all silently from the shadows — like a creep.
That’s what social media is. It’s a bunch of people creeping around looking at each other’s bridal shower pictures and status updates when they should be working, sleeping, or paying attention to their friends and families IRL.
During the height of my social media addiction, I paid as little attention as possible to people in their flesh and blood form. Instead, I buried my nose in my Amazon Kindle Fire tablet and kept refresh-refresh-refreshing Twitter and Facebook until someone had something new to say.
I started every morning lying flat on my back in bed with my tablet held over my face, sending personalized public tweets to every single one of perhaps a dozen “friends” I’d made on the platform. At least every other day, I’d drop my tablet on my face during my morning routine. It hurt, and I deserved it.
Before I bought an iPhone, I took baths and showers with my tablet, and it was not waterproof. That’s how terrified I was that I would miss something. FOMO is real.
Another fun way I fed my social media addiction was by keeping my tablet on the passenger seat of my car and searching for a free WiFi signal every time I arrived at a red light or stop sign just so I could check for new direct messages on Facebook and Twitter.
If the signal was strong and traffic was light, I might even have the chance to eke out a quick message or two in the hopes that I would have a reply before I reached the next intersection or traffic signal. I told myself that I was being super safe. After all, no one ever got into a car accident due to using social media while driving. Right?
I wish I could say that I quit cold turkey, but I didn’t. There were a few slips involved before I deleted all my social media accounts without accidentally on purpose reactivating them before it was too late.
The important thing is that I did indeed get myself and my addictive personality away from social media for good. I have more important things to do.
These days, the most you will catch me using Facebook is when a local restaurant has their menu and hours posted on their Facebook page and nowhere else. Even then, it’s not like I have to sign into Facebook. I just browse long enough to pick out my next restaurant meal and close the tab without considering it a slide.
If you’re the browse-and-refresh type of social media user, you might want to take a look at how much time you’re spending on Twitter and Facebook. You might be surprised at how the quality of your life improves without social media. I know mine has improved greatly, and I have never been happier.