For February I took time away from social media, I wanted to clear the plate in my life from distractions to do some deep thinking and focusing on what it is I truly want without seeing the lives of others influencing what I want. I wanted to give myself some time to think deeply, and come to some clarity about the direction I want to go in my creativity as well as personal life.
Here is a few things I gained from my time away from social media that you may find useful for your own journey. Switch on your brain with me. Here we go…
FOMO AND MICRO EMOTIONS that DISTRACT
So who was I kidding to think that my moderate social media use was not affecting me. I am a moderate user, if I compared myself to some of my peers. I am not seeking to be an influencer or to be popular on social media but I’m human too, with the same brain wired for connection and addictions that every other human has. No one is exempt from the calculated tactics of social media designers to get you hooked.
Let me tell you about my micro feelings and urges. I would feel little urges in my self to check my social media, even when I was trying to be in work mode. I would get a little disheartened with the lack of likes on recent posts. Now I am not saying this was massive feelings of disappointment, I am talking about something more subtle, micro, that would linger with me into my next task.
There were 3 occasions where I logged into my social media to update my business accounts, without even scrolling going to search through my feed, I immediately saw gorgeous pictures of people in sunny countries having the time of their life. I would feel immediate feelings desperate to travel and dissatisfaction with my season of life. All completely pointless, time wasting and distracting emotions , pulling my focus away from my truer purpose and meaningful in the here and now.
Countless studies now show that depression and anxiety go up in correlation with social media use. Studies also now show that comparing yourself to people who are ‘’better looking’’ and even ‘less attractive’’ both have the same outcome of depression. This ‘fear of missing out’ and comparing, even if micro emotions reminds me of one of the ten commandments ‘don’t covet’ although written thousands of years ago, it is still very relevant today. Don’t look into someone else’s life and desire after what they have. Focus on your own garden and with deep gratitude cultivate a deep meaningful life.
LINGERING DESIRES FOR APPROVAL- LADIES THIS IS A BIG ONE FOR US!
Did you know that we are so wired for love and connection that our pain receptors in our brains are very much linked to our social aspects of the brain. That’s why when we feel lonely, and disconnected from people it can cause us humans deep pain. People have been known to have physical heart attacks after heartbreak, that’s how much disconnection can affect us. So let’s talk about the need for approval.
Firstly studies show that females are more affected by social media in anxiety than males are, perhaps because women internalize things more than men. Women want to be adored, approved of, cherished and loved, all natural good desires. But when we are looking for our validation from a number of likes from a photo posted, you have put your self worth in something shallow and unreliable. This is no way to build yourself worth or confidence or to put any source of your value in social media. This is a platform that needs to be used for good and not for a platform to gain your value from or get social approval.
Do you want people to think you are beautiful? Do you want to feel special and loved? Those are desires that every girl feels, including me. You can go look at any girls instagram and see photo’s that basically are saying ‘Do you think I am pretty? I need approval.’ Not a bad question to ask, but social media is not the place to find the answers you are looking for. Remember that your value is an internal thing that can never be changed. You are loved by God just because you exist, you don’t need a social media account or the perfect pictures, you are free from that burden and you can rest in knowing ‘YES you are loved, YES you are beautiful!’.
IT WAS CREATED TO BE ADDICTIVE ( FACT) YOU PROBABLY HAVE A SOCIAL MEDIA COMPULSION AT LEAST
Facebook, instagram, twitter, youtube have all been designed by very clever men with knowledge of how to keep and capture human attention. There are many interviews from ex employees from google and facebook, founding members of social media platforms, including Jaron Lanier father of virtual reality, and tech gurus who all say the same thing – Social media copies gambling methods to create psychological cravings. Be aware of yourself, if you feel like you just have to pick up your phone to get a small hit, don’t sweep that feeling under the rug, that feeling is telling you something, free yourself to pursue something of more meaning and a bigger passion. Pay attention to what’s going on inside of you and what is quietly ruling you or stealing your attention from your more important life’s work.
FREE YOURSELF TO FOCUS ON THE BIG WINS.
Focus intentionally on your hearts most deepest desire and on the bigger purpose of your life. If you don’t know what that is, then it’s very important that you find that by seeking it out and trying different things. We after all only have one life to live. The thing is if you are scrolling for hours, or even minutes through periods of the day, this is stealing focus. The proof is out there now, we are not able to multitask as humans, we can only switch between one task and another very quickly. Our brains function best in deep focus on one task. If we switch to check social media or our phones while we are doing that deep work, we get something called ATTENTION RESIDUE, which is the brain still processing the task you just switched from. Ever felt brain fog or a feeling of being dissatisfied from multitasking? Try 4 hours of deep work and feel satisfied and good about yourself. This builds confidence and momentum. Schedule and block your work time, create momentum and do the work deeply.
I THOUGHT MORE, I RESTED BETTER, I ALLOWED BOREDOM TO GIVE WAY TO CREATIVE THINKING INSTEAD OF DISTRACTION.
As a society we are less bored, there is less opportunity for it. When you are off your phone and then in social settings you will observe how your culture around you is hooked to their phones. I allowed myself to be bored, that lead to reading the books that I have been meaning to finish, to think creatively in those moments about projects I am doing, to think deeper about my values and what is driving me, and what is the greater story of my life that I want to work towards. Resting without distraction is also a wonderful simple pleasure.
DEFINE YOUR PASSIONS AND VALUES
I have thoroughly enjoyed being away from the noise of social media. I don’t want to go back. When you quit smoking, or an addiction, you don’t go back to it. You must find something you are more wildly passionate about and focus your attentions onto that. They key is to say no to the lesser things, so you can say yes to the big things. But you need to define and clarify what the big things are that you are saying yes too.
Ideas on how to minimize social media distraction
- Use flight mode
- Sleep with phone away from your bedside
- Remove social apps from your phone home screen
- Think through what you will post, and why, what is the value for your bigger purpose
- Define your bigger goals, does this social media use feed into that?
- Remember that social media has been intentionally designed to keep you scrolling longer, clicking more, and coming back to it. So be mindful.
- Set blocks of 4 hours working deeply on one project / task
- Decide on how you will use social media as a positive tool in your life or business
I wanted to see what was going on inside of me, to better determine my true desires and passions and purpose in life, rather that being in an echo chamber of content pushed at me by bots of other people’s lives, the images telling me how I should live my life and how my photography should look according to popular trends. We are all vulnerable to social validation and approval, me and you. So sit down, and think about what you are going to do about it, because our one life matters. Don’t waste it on meaningless pursuits of digital numbers of likes. Give your brain a break from social media distraction , intentionally think about your direction and experience the clarity that will come.
DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY INCREASE IN FEMALES
Quite social media and still be successful
Social media copies gambling methods
How social media ruins your life – 4 NEWS INTERVIEW WITH FATHER OF VIRTUAL REALITY JARON LANIER
Former Facebook executive: social media is ripping society apart
HOW TO DO DEEP WORK – CAL NEWPORT