Social media is not a bad thing in itself. It is the way we use it that makes it good or bad. I became interested in this subject after watching a YouTube Video in which Simon Sinek, the author of Start with Why, talked about millennials and social media addiction. You can check the video out here. He talked about the instant gratification that social media provides. We all know how it can feel so good when you hear the notification sound that someone has sent you a message. You stop whatever you are doing, and go right to checking the message. This is what instant gratification is about; the tendency to satisfy your needs right away, often without considering the long term effect on your actions. As students, what will be the long term effect of always getting these hits from being on Facebook and Twitter? Perhaps bad grades. But that might not be all; we may not be able to develop the warmth to connect on a deep level with other human beings.
There is a reason why it is difficult for us to leave social media when we are hooked. There is a reason why we seek instant gratification. Of course, because it gives us such an instant hit like a drug. But there is a chemical substance that accounts for the hit. It is called dopamine.
Dopamine is a neurochemical created in various parts of the brain. It is vital in several brain functions like thinking, sleeping, eating, mood, attention, motivation and seeking. Dopamine causes us to desire, want and search. It makes us excited about things and enables us to be goal oriented.
When you send a message to a friend, and you are waiting for an answer, there is a spike in your dopamine levels. The nature of social media makes it easy for us to get these spikes on an ever increasing level. So why is getting all these highs bad for you? It is bad for you because you and I both know that at the end of the day when you about closing your eyes to sleep you feel empty. You feel that your life is getting nowhere. You feel you are not in control. It’s time to set some long term goals for yourself and move into execution mode!
As we have discussed the effect of social media addiction in our lives, and the causes of the addiction, let’s get into ways to overcome social media addiction.
- Turn notifications off: I think this is the number one thing to do if you want to overcome your addiction. That’s why I put it first. If you do not hear that someone has sent you a message, whatever he or she would have to say does not matter. You might think- what if it’s an emergency? Honestly, how many emergencies have you encountered since you started using these channels? That was a reality check. Now turn the damn notifications off. Don’t just mute the sound. Make it such that you don’t even see it atop your screen.
- Set a time to go on social media: Personally, I go online in the morning after I do my ablutions and in the evening when I am about to sleep. That is just to answer messages, and know what’s happening in school, in terms of school work. I also make sure that I do not stay more than twenty minutes.
- Set an alarm: Sometimes it’s good to set an alarm to remind you that your time for ‘social media work’ is up.
- Limit the number of times you scroll in your feed: It is equally helpful as setting an alarm. You can limit yourself to looking at say 10 or 15 posts by others. After that, you are done.
- Get a new hobby: The human mind is such that it must always be occupied. It is said that the idle mind is the devil’s workshop. This should tell us that under no circumstance will the mind be blank (an exception would be during meditation). Even when the mind is idle, the devil, whoever he is, moves in. To change a habit it is best to replace is with a better one.
I love reading. That’s how I overcame my addiction. Instead of pointlessly scrolling on Facebook I would read a book that will make me a better person in the long run. The book I am currently reading is The Leader Who Had No Title by Robin Sharma (I have the PDFs, if you want it I can show you how I got mine for free. Send me a message!). You may want to learn how to play the piano, guitar or ride a motorcycle.
- Spend time with people you love: If you go off social media, you will be lonely. I will not mince words. You will not be getting all those highs from social media. So get close to your siblings, parents and friends. Have some deep conversations. Go out and chill with them! You should do it because you deserve it! Because you were born awesome!
- Meet people in real life: Instead of always texting, with your head down, meet people in person. When you meet them, keep your phone faraway and engage them in conversation. You will learn that people know things you have no idea about. You will learn that they are warm and kind. You will hear their stories which will remind you of our shared humanity. If they are lousy too you will know! In real life it not easy for people to filter their sh*t.
- Have a social media fast: This is for the highly addicted ones. This means you totally stay off social media. I advise that when fasting, you uninstall the social media apps on your smartphone. When it is over then you reinstall them.
We come to the end. These are ways that have helped me to overcome my social media addiction. They might help you too. Feel free to let me know how you felt as you followed the “ways” in the message section.
God be with you till we meet again!