What it's like to quit social media...
Todd Ward 11/01/2013 09:17:00 AM addiction , anxiety , doing nothing , experiential avoidance , facebook , jessi hempel , mindfulness , social media , tumblr , twitter , youtube
"I quit social media. Here's what I learned..." is the title of a recent article published by Jessi Hempel on CNNMoney. Jessi writes of her experience taking a break from social media. "Ultimately" Jessi states, "my month-long social media diet allowed me to catalogue my own bad habits -- to observe the behavior I hoped to change." She observed the following:
I've leaned on social media to remove myself from offline social situations I find uncomfortable. When I landed at a barbecue where I didn't know anyone, I found myself reaching for my phone as a way to hide under the guise of doing something "more important." And I also turned to social media whenever I wanted to avoid really thinking about something. A great example: For the last hour, instead of actually writing this story, I've been checking Twitter and Facebook compulsively for updates. I use it to zone out -- the same way I might have flipped through bad cable channels back when I paid for cable TV.She does give a balanced view, however, toting both the pros and cons of the technology. For example, her article opens by highlighting the great power to mobilize groups in times of need. Her friends house burned down and her friends organized fundraising events through Facebook which raised $2,400 for help.
However, the psychological toll of social media may outweigh it's benefits. This "toll" is paid in the form of difficulty in removing oneself from constant stimulation or simply a difficulty in just relaxing and "doing nothing" for a few minutes. She notes:
I often found myself without a lot to do. This was uncomfortable in a brutal and mundane human kind of way. I might sit on the subway for five to seven minutes, looking at my hands. I might pass the time waiting for a friend at a restaurant by doing, well, nothing. And then, inevitably, my mind would wander and sometimes I'd feel uncomfortable.A quick Google search will reveal that many people across the Internet have talked about their experiences "quitting" social media -- as if social media was psychologically functioning in the manner of an addictive drug that is out of control. The phrase "social media addiction" is, unfortunately, becoming more common every day.