“I will stop going to this place” – often, we resort to complete cut-off instead of slowing things down. There are so many things that we stop doing – we stop talking to a relative, to a friend, to a neighbor. We stop going to some places. We stop eating sweets altogether instead of limiting it and it’s the same case with Social Media addiction. And these days, people are quitting social media altogether instead of slowing down or limiting its usage. That the problem exists is the truth.
But many do not realize this and others do not know how to resolve it. While some quit social media altogether, others remove the apps from their smartphones and there are only some who actually limit the usage.
Why quitting social media will not help?
There’s this simple analogy. Think that you are on a weight-loss diet. And social media is like unhealthy food. Viewing social media is like binging. You do not understand where to stop. And literally, one wafer leads to another and so on. So, if you hide that packet of wafers, will it help? It will always be on the back of your mind that it exists somewhere and calling out your name. This means you have not overcome the habit of binging.
To really overcome it, you need to grab that packet, eat just one wafer, and keep it back at the same place in the pantry. Similarly, not buying that wafer packet at all will also not help. Purchase it, keep it in the pantry, and then do not binge. Yes, it is difficult. But this is the real test. Similarly, when you realize that you are binging on social media, do not quit. You stay put and decide not to check it multiple times in a day.
Quitting social media will not help at all. When everyone around you is on social media, you would like to stay in the loop, especially when you have not overcome the habit. It is just that you have deleted the account. You will be tempted to know what is happening but you will have to channelize that energy. It is very difficult, you know that, right?
The directly proportional relation
I will tell you a secret here. The lesser you check the updates the lesser there will be the need to. Did you get this? For instance, you were not able to check your Whatsapp account for some reason for the entire day. When you actually get to check it in the evening, there would not be much in there to check. The reason being, that you might have talked to the people if it was urgent. And similarly, other people would have also called you instead of sending messages. And when this happens constantly for a week, people will realize that you are not much online and hence, they try to get in touch with you through a call. This is true for Facebook as well. When you do not check the updates regularly, you just skim through the messages quickly instead of analyzing each one of them.
How to begin limiting the use of social media?
The very first step is to find out how much social media you are using in the span of a day or even an hour if you are addicted. Every time you take your smartphone in your hand and click on Facebook or any other similar social media account to check the updates, you need to strike one in your diary. This will really help you find out how much are you addicted. The limit is to use social media just twice a day if it is for leisure and pleasure. Oh, this does not hold true if you are Mark Zuckerberg’s assistant and it is your job to keep a tap on social media. Jokes apart (I have to write this because sometimes my one-liners are hard to understand) if you are using social media many times a day, then you should do something about it. Once again, I ask you not to quit.
What I will not ask you to do to cure social media addiction!
- I will not ask you to quit social media
- I will not ask you to join some classes
- I will not ask you to learn to balance
- I will not ask you to meditate
My approach to getting out of social media addiction
Yes, on a smaller level I was addicted to social media. I liked checking whether someone texted me something funny. I did not check group chats or jokes but I got addicted to personal chats. I wanted to find out people with whom I lost touch with and text them. This sounds interesting and weird at the same time, right! But this habit made me quite antsy. Now, let us see, how we can change ourselves in this pro-social media world, one step at a time.
1. Skim the contacts on social media
This is the very first and the very important thing that should be done. So, you met a lady in the supermarket and you two gelled instantly. Both of you add each other on the social media account. And it has been years today that you two did not chat. You need to set rules on whom to add to your social media account and give access to your personal life. And even if you do, you need to skim the contacts on a regular basis as well. This is not just for curing the addiction, but also for your safety.
What will happen when you skim the contacts? – the likes and comments on your posts will decrease drastically. This means that you do not have to reply to them individually. Dadang!!! Time saved. Further, the lesser the number of ‘friends’ on your social media account, the lesser the updates are, the lesser you will have to like and comment. Interesting, isn’t this? Ultimately, you are less antsy to check the updates. Further, please do not remove those ‘friends’ whose posts light up your day in some way, even if you are not much in touch. Also, please make sure that you do not accept the request of anyone and everyone (even if you know the person for a long time, you should judge whether that person needs to be on your social media as well).
2. Skim the platforms as well
There are so many platforms and groups and communities that you follow on social media. Every once in a while, you need to take out some time and remove them from the list. This will make you feel lighter and the burden of checking their updates as well is relieved. I just did that while writing the post. It feels better, believe me!
3. Decide the time and duration
This is slightly difficult to do. For those who are checking it every now and then, this is next to impossible. However, you will have to decide the time slot when you will check social media. You will also need to decide the duration for which you will be socially active online. Now, the catch is you cannot adjust the timings. So, if you decide that you will check social media for half an hour every morning and suppose, there are no new updates at that point in time, by no means, you can postpone this time. You cannot check social media account in the afternoon again for the same time duration. This will be counted as cheating. You will have to check the account only in the next decided slot. Do not crib, that is the deal!
4. Number of posts allowed
This is quite subjective. There are some who do not post anything at all and even then they are addicted to social media; then there are others who post thrice a day, yet they are not active on social media. The point that I am trying to make over here is social media addiction is not judged on the basis of the number of posts you do in a day. But if you are one of those who yearn to see how many people liked your posts, then you need to limit the post thrice a week rather than daily.
5. Checking the forwards
Forwards – this is how addiction begins. In order to make social media work, the owners make sure that the forwards aka funny videos, messages, and rumors spread like a wildfire. Make sure that you do not download every video, read memes, and messages. Also, do not forward them like it is very important for others to see those. What I have done is made settings that videos and images do not download automatically. This has helped me in skimming the messages. It also saves my time.
6. Online and real social life
The problem is that people treat online social media and real-life social media quite differently. While people are cautious in making real-life friends, they add people instantly online. And this gradually makes such people a different personality altogether. The catch is to treat online social life on the same terms as the real-life one. Do you comment on every person you meet in your neighborhood? The same holds true online. It is not your responsibility to like and comment on every pic. Likewise, one should not be rude even online or post nasty comments. It is easy to advise online. So, unless and until asked personally, you need not advise people.
7. Checking social media in public
Ahaan! This is very important, folks! Our smartphones are like our pets. They accompany us wherever we go. And nowadays, people even carry their smartphones to their loos – so a step further to the pets. However, I have a rule here. I do not carry it to the washroom, bathroom, or kitchen. I do not carry my smartphones on outings. I make sure that I do not check social media updates when I am in the park – I watch people chat, kids play and birds chirp. I do not check the updates in the mall or while waiting for the taxi to arrive. I also do not check when I am traveling. I do not allow even my toddler to watch videos while she is getting bored in a cab or a restaurant. Instead, I observe people around me during such times and make sure that my kiddo gets in a similar habit. I also make sure that my phone is many yards away from me when I am with my family. All this will assure that you have a good time without your smartphone.
Happiness is just around the corner, waiting for you with open arms. Happiness does not result from people liking you online. It is all about quality friends that you make in real life. Just like you assure that your real friends are maintained, make sure that your online friends are, as well. Instead of stopping the bad habit altogether, take stock of your life. Quitting social media will be foolish. You need to take control of your life, withdraw yourself from addiction, and move ahead!