I’ve discovered something terrible about myself. I’m addicted to social media. I understand that as a journalist, it is important for me to know what is going on in the world, but it’s not essential to be constantly checking my Twitterfeed for the latest headlines.
My obsession finally reached new levels when I was holding a conversation with a friend and I realized that I was suddenly scrolling through Facebook, ignoring the person that was telling me about a personal issue in her life. I had to ask her to repeat herself and it made me feel like a disgusting human being. I didn’t have the decency to put my phone away for seven minutes and listen. This is not the Ellise I used to be. Not the Ellise that I want to be. I want be someone that can hold a conversation and be able to participate fully without rudely checking the latest Instagrams.
When I realized how bad my screen addiction had become, I decided to do something about it. I immediately deleted Facebook, Twitter and Instagram from my phone. I then when into the settings on my phone and blocked Facebook on Safari so that even in desperate times, I will have it blocked. (I left Twitter unblocked, but only because I have to post for J2150 from it.)
Recently, Coca-Cola Middle East produced a tremendous video that we could a learn a lesson from, myself included.
Though it humorously involved placing a dog cone on your head, it brings up an important topic of discussion. We, as people living in an age of technology so readily available to us, have grown accustomed to constant connection with the world. Now I’m not saying that being connected with the world is a bad thing. Honestly, it’s like magic. You can talk to people across the globe in a matter of seconds, like holy crap, you guys. That’s awesome. But at what point does it become excessive?
We’re so worried about what others are doing that we often forget to live in the moment and enjoy those around us. It kind of makes me sick and I’m in no way guiltless. I check my phone CONSTANTLY. Even now, after deleting my social media apps, I find myself just playing with my phone. I check my updates and mail by reflex. If I’m uncomfortable or bored, I find my finger clicking in the spot that used to open Facebook (that now opens WordPress) and thinking to myself, “What the hell are you doing, Ellise. Get a life, would you?”
It’s been four days since my revelation. I don’t regret my decision to slow down on social media one bit. I feel antsy at times, but it passes. (I sound like a recovering drug addict…) I’ve noticed increased attention in conversations, in class and in general. I’m more observant, but what I observe is a lot of people on their phones.
I know it’s unrealistic to expect everyone to just drop their phones and delete their favorite apps, but I want to make you all aware of something that has silently consumed our lives. Maybe it’s time to reevaluate ourselves. How can we create relationships with those around us rather than worry about what your crush’s latest funny tweet?
Another reason I decided it was time to delete the apps is because this past Wednesday began Lent. As a girl claiming a strong Christian faith, I wanted to give up something that I far too often put before God. Social media is at the top of that list. Why read the Bible when I could read another article on Twitter or read through another Facebook fight? Why pray when I could see what my NatGeo idols are posting on Instagram? It makes me sick that this is my mindset. I may not have actually consciously thought these things, but it’s in the back of my mind everyday.
So I encourage you all to take a second to think about your own social media habits. I know not everyone is as bad as me, but we could all use a little help. And social media may not be your vice. It could very well be Flappy Birds or Dice with Buddies that causes your screen addiction. Whatever it is that takes you out of the present, focus on it a little less. Even if you only make a conscious effort a few days a week, that’s a few days that you will be able to relate to those around you better than you have in a while.