Okay, I admit it. I’m a scroller. Any time I feel that I have nothing to do, I pick up my phone and start scrolling on social media. It had gotten so bad that I took Facebook off of my phone in order to stop the madness. But then Instagram quickly took its place, and to me it was much more enjoyable than Facebook.
But lately I have had to face the harsh reality: I am not rooted and grounded in the present because I am constantly on social media. It is hard for me to get anything that I want to do accomplished because I am constantly viewing the accomplishments of others. And that comes with other pitfalls as well. Social media only shows you what people are doing now. It does not show you what it took for them to get there. So there is a constant comparing that goes on, a constant attack from my brain telling me that I will never be able to do what I want to do because I will not be able to do it like the people on social media do it. Or why should I do that thing because there are already so many people out there doing it. The brain likes to be a jerk about stuff like that, especially when it has so many instances to point to in order to make its point valid.
The Great Distractor
I had been hearing a few podcasters talk about the dangers of social media and how it can effect one’s drive and sense of purpose, but social media addiction is a hard one to kick. It is almost like checking in on friends to see how they are doing. It is definitely a way to distract yourself from something you might be scared of doing. I have plenty of irons in the fire right now, but if I continue to indulge in social media the way that I have, those irons will probably burn to ash before I get anywhere with them. It is just so much easier to lay in bed and scroll, sit on the couch and scroll, sit in the car and scroll, sit at my desk and scroll, and pretty much scroll anywhere at any time. If I was confused about how to do something, it was easier to pull up social media and scroll than try to figure it out. When I was writing about something, inevitably I would distract myself with social media in the middle of writing. I have piles and piles of books that I have ordered to help me further my practice, but they sit on my bookshelf while I mindlessly scroll. I simply don’t move forward because I am stuck in the loop that is social media addiction.
Yesterday I decided that enough was enough. I am tired of the endless cycle of scrolling. I want to do something more with my life than be glued to my phone. I took all of the social media apps off of my phone.
It wasn’t hard to deal with while I was at work. After all, I’m working and I don’t typically get sidetracked easily by social media when I’m at work. When I got home, I was able to focus on what I needed to do: take the dog out, make dinner, clean up around the house, etc. I listened to a podcast while I was doing some of those things, and for the most part I was able to focus and get a lot done.
This morning was when I was really able to notice the difference. Usually when I wake up I pick up my phone for my first scroll. I check all my social media sites, the news, the weather, and anything else there is on my phone to check. When I didn’t have all of those things to check, it hit me: I’m alone.
The Energy Exchange of Social Media
That makes it sound like I had a moment of crisis where I realized that all of those social media people aren’t really my friends and I broke down sobbing and crying. That wasn’t it at all.
I am a huge introvert. I am the introvert of introverts so I love being alone. I crave it. And I thought that by scrolling through social media, I was taking part in people’s lives without really being around people and all of that energy. But I was wrong. By scrolling through social media, I was allowing that energy into my life. And it wasn’t the energy of one person, or even two people. I was allowing the energy of everyone in my social media feed into my life in the span of 15, 20, or 30 minutes, depending on how long I was scrolling. For me, it was like I was going to a party several times a day. Being in the midst of all of that energy that often was physically and emotionally draining, and I didn’t realize it until it wasn’t there.
For the first two days after quitting my social media, I had more energy than I knew what to do with. After that, my energy was pretty close to what it had been before, but I was better able to think about things like the business I want to start and the steps needed to make that happen. Social media had stoked in me a fear of the unknown related to that business. I was worried about the steps I needed to take to start the business. I was worried about what to do once the business was started. I was worried about the efficacy of what I had created. All of this worry because I was so focused on what other people were doing, people who had been doing it for a lot longer than me. They seemed to have it all put together. They knew what to do and seemed to be doing it so well. I must be stupid because I didn’t know what to do. I must not be as smart as they are. The brain likes to tell us these things when it has social media there to prove it right
Social Media and the Brain
The brain likes to keep us where we are. It knows that where we are right now is safe. The patterns we are in right now are safe and known to us. Nothing can hurt us within this space. Social media shows us what other people are doing, and gives the brain a chance to tell us, “Look at that. You couldn’t do that. You couldn’t make something as pretty as that. You aren’t even close to doing something like that. What makes you think you could ever do that?” And it feeds us this lie with every post, with every page on social media screaming at us that the person on that page is better. They get it. They have what it takes because they are doing it. We don’t because we aren’t.
It is a demoralizing pattern and for some people, like me, it is automatic. I don’t sit looking at my feed thinking to myself all of those things, torturing myself day in and day out. It is a subconscious message that my brain feeds to me during the endless scrolling that I do. The message works to paralyze me and keep me in the place I have been in for months: dreaming about starting a small business, but not acting on that dream out of fear.
I have done more to further my dream in the last few days than I had done in the last several months. Because my business will primarily be online to start with because of the pandemic, I know that I need the help of social media to grow that business. However, I know that I need to be careful when it comes to being on social media. I need to be mindful of the time I spend on it and what I do on it with that time. It might be one of those things that is better for me to outsource to someone else. I seem to have an addictive personality, and I won’t do myself any favors becoming a slave to scrolling again.
What are your experiences with social media? Do you find it helpful, or do you find yourself getting lost in it like I did? I would love to hear your stories so please comment below.