I don’t know about you, but lately I’ve been spending a lot of time on social media, mostly Twitter but also Instagram and Facebook. There is a lot of good information and conversation being shared on these platforms, but a lot of crap as well. Sometime last year I decided to delete all social media apps from my phone, and I’d say it had a positive impact on my overall wellbeing.
Unfortunately, a few months ago I decided to download Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram onto my phone again. Why you ask? Mostly for one reason, my wife and I had a baby. You’re probably thinking that it makes sense to have those apps on your phone as a new parent in order to easily share pictures and update family and friends about your new little one and all the exciting moments you experience as a new parent; and that’s not a bad assumption.
But if I’m being honest, the main reason my social media use increased was to entertain myself during all the down time and lulls associated with having a baby. As I’m sure any parent can attest to, having a newborn is both incredibly exhilarating and just as equally boring. You go long periods of time not being able to speak or move because your tiny human has finally fallen asleep and any noise or motion may reset the hour long process of putting him to bed. Reading a book is a challenge (too dark). Watching television is out of the question (too loud). So what do you do to occupy your brain while you are holding a ticking time bomb trying to allow your sleep deprived wife a few hours of rest before she is needed to provide the only form of sustenance currently available to your 8 lb. bundle of joy?
For me, the answer was Twitter, which then turned into Instagram, and then Facebook. At first it wasn’t so bad. I enjoyed immersing myself in different topics and conversations being had from the various accounts I follow. There’s a lot of good discussion amongst coaches in both the track and field, and strength and conditioning circles I follow. When it comes to news and politics, Twitter (occasionally) can be a place where different ideas and viewpoints are shared and a healthy dialogue can take place. Facebook and Instagram are great for staying in touch with friends and family who you don’t get a chance to see in person as often as you’d like.
However, I’m beginning to notice that the more time I spend on these platforms, the less happy I am overall. Not only do I get sucked into the dopamine driven feedback loop that the algorithms are designed to target, but I also find myself becoming frustrated with the prevalence of deliberate misinformation and toxic interactions taking place in my feed and on comment threads; and to be honest, it’s depressing.
This topic has been discussed by a variety of others and I’m probably not saying anything you haven’t already heard, but as it is the start of a new year, I was reflecting back on 2019 and thinking about what I want 2020 to look like and my social media usage kept coming to my mind.
That’s why I’ve decided to once again delete social media apps from my phone. I’m not vowing to get off of social media altogether because I do find some value in them, I’m just choosing to use them in a way that I have more control rather than letting them control me.
If you are reading this, then you probably clicked on a link from one of my social media accounts. I want to challenge you to take a look at how much time you spend on Facebook, or Twitter, or Reddit, or whatever; and notice how it affects your mood. Does it bring you joy and happiness, or does it make you anxious or depressed? Be honest with yourself. It’s up to you to break the loop, and what better time to kick a bad habit than the start of a new decade.
Good luck and Happy New Year!