Dry eyes, drooping eyelids, and a cramp inching from my thumb to the inside of my wrist as I scroll through the endless content stream of Facebook, Instagram, & Tiktok, time whisking by faster than the sun disappears in the winter. We’ve all been there. Well, at least most people in my generation have. It’s no wonder time flies by when your subconscious has seemingly left the room and our minds cling to the hopeful curiosity of, what’s next?
I am personally guilty of this, and have been for years. It wasn't until the slow easing of the dreaded C-word (otherwise known as pandemic) that I stepped back into my consciousness to assess my mental health, and the way I was spending my time. A great deal of my time had passed me by with an unconscious flow; scrolling on social media, watching videos that sparked my curiosity, or waiting to see what self assessment or dance trend was next on my TikTok feed.
It took a conscious assessment, or better yet, a chat with one of my best friends, to help me realize I was wasting an immense amount of time and not only gaining little to no reward, but actually harming my mental health in the process.
Then, a light went off.
What am I doing? Why am I so drawn to this? Where has all of my money gone? How did this happen?!?
It wasn’t just the upkeep of constant comparison to strangers on the internet, it wasn’t just a decline in my ability to focus or an itch to grab my phone in any stretch of quiet time lasting more than a few seconds.
It was an ever increasing number on my credit card bill from unconscious purchases of trendy goods, it was the continued cancelled plans with my real life friends, avoided due to the deep depression and self shame that I was experiencing as a result of my 5+ hours a day on social media. My work performance was crashing, my interest in my life was crashing, and yet, my security blanket took the shape of a beautifully curated feed of influencers and mushroom teas and a promise of a better life and growing value in society if only I invested my next $200 in crypto currency.
Thats when I decided to take a stand.
I deleted all of my apps off of my phone, no big strain to my business because I had been blocked on my accounts for over a year (more on that later), but an enormous weight to lift from my drooping shoulders and an opportunity to tap back into the real world.
And then my life was changed for the better!
…no, but it was a step in the right direction.
The next step of this self analysis was to replace this bad habit with a good habit. Having come from my background of heavy substance use & abuse in my younger years, I knew that it was seemingly impossible to just quit an addiction and replace it with nothing.
Was it possible? Yes.
Just as climbing Mt. Everest is possible- it takes a great deal of conscious decision making and training.
I thought about it for awhile, all while ghost tapping the spots on my phone screen that once held those precious distractions. I realized, I am addicted not only to the never ending curiosity of new content, but the physical action of scrolling as well.
My thumbs have sought refuge in this swiping motion for years now, and it wasn’t about to change overnight- no matter how much my blossoming carpel tunnel wished it would. So, I determined that reading would be a great substitute. Not blogs or magazines or captions, but actual books. I loved reading as a child and could spend hours with my face buried in a book, and learned so much about the world and myself in these times.
I tried picking up a real book, thinking the once loved feeling of a gently worn page would give me the same relief and distraction that my apps once did. That lasted for about 5 minutes before my phone was back in my hand and my book was left crinkled next to me in bed.
Ugh, this was going to be harder than I thought.
Then, it came to me.
I realized that reading was a viable solution, I just wasn’t approaching it as a bridge to a better life. I needed something to help me transition myself from the infinite doom scrolling habits of social media back to the comfort and magic of reading a book.
At this point, I figured, hey- why not try a digital medium? That way, my body and mind can slowly turn this addiction into something positive.
So, I downloaded the Kindle app, and set my page structure to scrolling. This meant, that I would be using the same physical motion as I was on social media, I would still be absorbing new content, and I’d have a source of entertainment! But, instead of scrolling through the mindless jumble of waist trainers and some exotic resort I couldn’t afford to visit, I was transported to the magical worlds fabricated in novels; I was learning more about emotional regulation, I was diving headfirst into things that I, not an influencer, actually cared about.
In the first 2 days I read 360 pages.
If this isn’t an enormous inclination to the amount of time I was spending on social media, I don’t know what is. Self judgement aside, I had found a solution to my problem.
It has since been 26 days free of all social media apps, and I’ve read three books. I haven’t read three books in a month in I don’t even know how long, and I couldn’t be happier.
My wish is that by sharing this you feel empowered to make a conscious decision in your life to do something for you- something that heals you, entertains you, sparks your curiosity, or even just removes a source of negativity from your life.
I hope that if you are struggling with any kind of addiction, you feel empowered to take a small step towards a brighter future.
I hope that you delete things from your life that don’t spark joy, and welcome in things that do.
If you want to join me in this social media detox and read books, I’d love that as well, but only if it is whats going to bring YOU, joy.
We only have one shot at life, do what makes it the best experience possible.
All my love,