Updated: Jul 25, 2019
If you’re reading this, and we’re Facebook friends, then you’ve been blocked from my news feed... err.. unfollowed. Blocked sounds so harsh, doesn't it?
I’ve not unfollowed you because I don’t like you, or that you’ve irritated me in any way. It’s not about you at all. It’s about me. Yes, I’m totally using the ‘it’s not you, its me’ line!
You see, it’s taken me a while to truly admit this, but I have a problem, and it’s time that I address it before it becomes an even bigger problem.
According to the experts, almost 20% of people with social media accounts cannot go more than three hours without checking them.
3 hours?! That would feel like an eternity to me! I think I was checking my social media at least once per hour and sometimes more often if I was really bored. It was compulsive. Sometimes I would pick up my phone and not know why and even if there was no red dot indicating a like or comment, I’d just open FB and start scrolling with no aim, often spending 20+ minutes… several times a day.
Giant. Time. Suck!
I don’t want to/can’t quit 100% because I’m pretty ingrained in the platform as it can be a GREAT place to connect, learn, promote and find support for my coaching business. I’m enrolled in a course where FB is one of the main tools we use for support and ideas. I still want to be tagged in a meme that made someone think of me...
I’m still ON FB and probably will be for the long haul, but I needed to find a way that I could find balance and be more in control vs. feeling out of control and letting it suck hours of my day away… every day!
It should be said that I’m extremely grateful for Facebook. I love that it brought me in contact with people from my past and rekindled long forgotten friendships. I could list umpteen examples where FB has brought me back in touch with long lost friends, but you only have so much time to read this.
BUT… its benefits are being overshadowed by my addiction and it's affecting my mental health. It's affecting how I feel about my real life life! Sad but true.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health has found a correlation between social media usage and depression. I can totally see that correlation, as I’ve felt some ‘depressive’ thoughts throughout the years thanks to things I read on social media. Especially the arguing and nastiness that can happen during an election year!
The realization was subtle at first and didn’t really think much of it, but as I became more conscious of it, I realized that I was experiencing nearly constant comparison-itus; looking at other people’s social media lives and feeling ‘less than’ if my life wasn’t like theirs. And some of these people I don’t even know well! After scrolling, I would feel somewhat inadequate! And it's not their fault for posting, but my brain’s fault for associating my failure with their success, or their image of success/happiness.
I was looking for Facebook to provide external validation (something that I crave more than I’d like to admit). Like my post and that means you like me. Right? Maybe… But was I looking for you to ‘like’ me or my post or was I looking for any way to feel connected?
I’m not proud and it’s a little (scratch that) quite embarrassing to admit all of this. But that’s the first step, right? Admitting you have a problem. And I do.
And guess what, I’m not alone in my habit/addiction. Are you addicted to social media too? Click here for a non-scientific quiz to see how addicted you are. According to my results, I’m 75% addicted!
Everyone has their own ways to use social media, and some have a wonderful and healthy relationship with it, but that is not me right now. And so… for a while, I’m flipping the script.
I’ve tried other tactics to fix it, like deleting the app from my phone to stop the compulsion, but what did I do? I used the safari app to check it instead, so that lasted about a day.
I’ve ‘unfollowed’ every person I’m friends with from my newsfeed. It’s not personal, I’ve even unfollowed my mom (sorry not sorry, Mom). I’m doing this for my own good! I’m doing this so that I can create and have better relationships in my real life world and eventually a healthier one with social media, one that is not codependent.
I’ve even gone through my Instagram feed and unfollowed about 100 folks, mostly celebrities and people that I followed at one point for one reason or another, and that doesn’t exist anymore. (Side note - did you know that Instagram is testing a 'no likes' idea in 7 countries? They want people to get back to posting pictures because they want to, not to see how many likes they get)
The only activity I currently have on my FB news feed is from groups I’m part of and any brand or business I have ever followed. Which has shown me that over the years, I’ve joined a lot of groups and liked a LOT of things! So I’ve been unfollowing them as I come across them, if they don’t serve my current needs.
All of this is a trial and is probably temporary until I can get a handle on myself. But until then, know that I’m still ‘there’ on my The Good Health Coach page, which you can follow here if you’ve not already. I’ll keep this page active with more ‘health’ focused posts. I’m also still on messenger and can still be ‘tagged’ in photos or funny “Friends” videos!
I’ve only touched on the tip of the iceberg about the negative sides of social media. If you’d like to learn more, I encourage you to watch this documentary on YouTube about the toxicity of social media, especially for teens. It’s just 52 minutes long and eye opening!
Also, this article articulates a lot of the things I’ve noticed in my own relationship with social media… have you noticed any of this?