Hi, my name is Leith and I’m a social media addict. It’s currently 10.21am and I have already checked Instagram five times, Facebook three, and posted about my overwhelming joy that it is #FriYAY. (Yes, I’m one of THOSE people.) But I’ve recently realised that my habit of checking my social feeds 20 times every half-hour isn’t all that healthy. This state of awareness was brought on by a certain Insta-famous teen (Essena O’Neill, in case you’ve been living under a rock) outing the supposed “fakeness” of social media and its detrimental effects on younger generations.
So if, like me, you want to kick your social media addiction, these nine steps can help you live in the moment rather than capturing it.
1. Admit you have a problem
Have you ever found yourself tuning out of conversations to get your scroll on? Do you check your feed at every waking moment? Are you forever a victim of FOMO when your daily social media fix is interrupted? You, my friend, are an addict. The first step to overcoming any addiction is admitting that you have a problem. Now, this is easier said than done but a problem shared is a problem halved, right? My tip? Shout it from the rooftop, write it on your walls (at your own risk, and don’t blame me if you don’t get your bond back), and tell your friends and family. Whatever your method, cement it in your head that things WILL change!
2. Get outside
With just a quick scroll through Instagram you can be inspired by fashion, décor and exotic travel destinations. The virtual world is amazing but it’s just that: VIRTUAL! Go outside and soak up those memories rather than recording everything on your phone. That’s right. I’m talking real-life #nofilter. Bask in the sunshine, inhale the fresh air, and your body and mind will be thanking you.
Look at your social media feed like a block of chocolate. It looks oh-so inviting and promises to fulfill your cravings… temporarily. Until you start to feel sick and regret your choices. It’s not worth the hours of indulgence. So be forceful with your addiction and set designated times to check your social media in order to satisfy your guilty temptations. Be serious about those designated times, though. Set an alarm.
4. Out of reach, out of mind
Nowadays there seems to be a magnetic force between our hands and phones. Stop this in its tracks by distancing yourself from your technology. Having dinner? Keep your phone in the other room. Going to a party? Leave your phone at home. Or switch it on airplane mode until you need it to let people know you’re getting home safe. Just put your phone down and enjoy the tranquility.
5. Go cold turkey
This step is not for the faint-hearted. It may even result in wild hallucinations or dreams about hi-LAR-ious memes. But sometimes the best way to stop a problem is to go straight to the source. So take a deep breath (a really deep one, you will need it), close your eyes and DEACTIVATE (yes, I said it). Not forever. But for at least a month.
And if it’s too hard to ignore Facebook’s attempts to lure you back with all the photos of people who will desperately miss your presence, then get a friend or family member to reset your password so you can’t access it for the allotted period of time. Remember: this is for the greater good, and your future self.
6. Write down your thoughts
Think before you virtually vomit. Do you REALLY think everyone wants to know every intricate detail of your lunch? Instead of boring your “friend” list (I use that term loosely) with nothing short of useless information, grab a diary and let it all go. Describe your inner thoughts. Hell, describe that tasty burger. You’ll be surprised at the creativity you will unlock when the distraction of your phone, tablet or computer disappears and you're writing just for you, rather than crafting the perfect response to be seen by the world.
7. Work out how much time you are wasting
Take note of how much time you are spending online. You will be shocked at the hours spent per day just scrolling listlessly through your newsfeeds and dashboards. Take that time spent on social media and use it to exercise, get more work done, or have a glass of wine. Any excuse for wine.
8. Set limits
Set a weekly limit, down to the minute for each social media application you use. If you are under the limit, you go, Glen Coco! But if you exceed the limit then punishment must ensue. If you are dead serious about beating your addiction, try a humanitarian approach and donate some money to a charity every time your feed gets the better of you.
9. Catch up with friends and family
I know, I know. It’s weird talking to humans face to face instead of glancing at their profile picture before you double-tap. But it’s time to stop hiding behind your screen and enjoy precious time with friends and family. These are the moments to treasure forever.