Two weeks ago I wrote about unplugging from social media. (You can read that one here.)
As soon as I posted that blog entry on social media, I decided to put my iPhone down for the day.
Funny thing….by the middle of the afternoon, I was a nervous wreck.
I wonder how many people have read the blog today?
I could just peek really quick to see how many shares and likes I have.
I wonder if Boo has seen that I posted? He hasn’t called me yet.
After about 4 hours or so, I couldn’t take it anymore.
I pounced on my iPhone like a lion about to devour a helpless frickin wildebeest…and soaked in all the glorious gratification of the comments, the likes, the compliments.
Oh sweet nectar of the gods.
Like bourbon to the bloodstream.
What I immediately realized, is that much like any kind of junkie…I was addicted.
The feelings of anxiety I’d experienced while obsessing about people’s anticipated approval about what I had posted on social media accounts, was much like what an alcoholic feels like while fiending for another drink.
And I realized…oh good God, I am an InstaFaceTwitaholic.
I can’t go 5 minutes without checking my iPhone.
And not only that, I need it.
So I decided to put a stop to it.
For the past 2 weeks, I have unplugged myself.
Did you even notice?
Because not a single cyber-fan, blog-follower, or social media-liker reached out to me.
And that tells me something.
I have been investing way too much of my time on my iPhone.
And not nearly enough time on relationships that are real-life.
During that two weeks a whole lot happened.
I had a falling out with someone I love very much.
I had to fire someone at work.
I watched my daughter and her travel basketball team win the runner-up medal at their championship playoff game.
I attended a family picnic for the business unit I supervise, where I laughed and played volleyball with my colleagues and chased their kids around the park.
One of the most influential people of my lifetime died after a long and painful battle with MS.
I had lunch with three different people I hadn’t seen in ages.
My managerial counterpart and very dear friend moved on to get her Masters degree.
There were moments of joy and moments of pain.
Lived in person.
And guess who was there with me for all of it?
It wasn’t the hundreds of literal strangers I went to high school with 25 years ago.
Or the scads of blog readers on WordPress.
Or the people in Australia and Uzbekistan who follow me on Instagram.
The ones who got me through were my family.
My best friends.
They were the ones holding me and crying with me.
They were also the ones laughing with me and living actual life with me.
Now don’t miss this, please:
What I have realized with each passing day is that the longer I am disconnected from social media, the more my anxiety decreases.
I am no longer constantly obsessing about checking my iPhone, when I haven’t posted anything.
There has been nothing for anyone to like or share, because I haven’t given them any fodder with which to do so.
And all of a sudden, I am present.
I can come home from work, plug in my iPhone to charge for the evening, and just leave it.
When I plop down on the couch in the media room with my kids, and don’t have a stupid iPhone to stare at all evening, I actually look around and notice…
sweet baby Jesus, this house is a mess.
But when I’m constantly distracted and obsessed with my iPhone, it’s easy to ignore dust.
And stacks of dishes.
And piles of laundry.
Which makes it easier to ignore teenagers who need engagement and attention.
And healthy meals that need prepared.
And precious friendships that need maintenance.
When I intentionally disconnect from the iPhone, I am available to engage and chat with my kids and ask about their days.
I find myself cooking every evening instead of buying carryout.
Suddenly the house is cleaner and the laundry is done and the dog is walked more frequently.
I reach out directly to my true friends and loved ones to check on them instead of stalking them on social media.
Soooooo….after an almost 2 week hiatus, I posted something 2 days ago.
And guess what?
That pesky anxiety was right back.
I should check how many people commented on my photo.
Maybe my arm fat was too visible in that shot, I should delete it.
Boo hasn’t liked my post yet, maybe the photo is bad….or I’m not interesting enough. Do I look old? Or too fat? Maybe my hair is frizzy? Or my side-boob is showing? CURSE THAT DOUBLE CHIN!
Let’s de-board this crazy train.
The bottom line here is this.
I am happiest and most at peace without the anxiety and starvation for approval that the addiction to my iPhone brings into my daily life.
This creates a conundrum for a writer with an online following, so I have some decisions to make.
In the mean time, I challenge you to test your own addiction.
Try, for just one evening, to silence your phone, plug it in to charge in the bedroom, and leave it there all night.
And if you find yourself more concerned and even anxious with scrolling through other people’s highlight reels than engaging in what is happening around you, I’m here to tell you…
you are addicted.
Time for an intervention.
And this is your first AA meeting.
Consider me your sponsor.