A few months ago I watched the Netflix Documentary The Social Dilemma (have you seen it?) and was terrified by it. I was already quite conscious of my digital consumption behaviors, but the show made me even more aware of how social media and my smartphone was affecting my (and my family's life).
I recognize this is a hot topic- and I don't take it lightly. Addiction is a strong word. But given that "People with addiction use substances or engage in behaviors that become compulsive and often continue despite harmful consequences" (American Society of Addiction Medicine) I do believe I had developed an addiction to my phone.
I never had an 'addictive personality'. In my early twenties, I could have a cigarette with a drink (yes, I was a 'social smoker' at the time) but I always had control. I wish I could say the same about my relationship with my phone.
One way I could tell I was starting to become addicted to my phone is that I could feel my desire to check it even when there was no reason to. I could feel my brain craving that dopamine hit from the next comment or like on a recent post. And the worst part was, I couldn't keep myself from doing it! Repeatedly, I would find myself pressing that 'home' button even when I was telling myself not to.
Another aspect of addiction is that it interferes with your relationships. This was the case for me. Being on my phone 'all the time' (in my husband's words) came to be an issue of contention in our marriage. "But I'm doing work" I would argue. Which was true. But did I need to be doing work first thing after hopping out of bed? No.
Does any of this sound familiar to you? I imagine it does. I believe that many of us struggle with our relationship with our phone.
As one mom said in my mom and baby yoga class: "it's hard, because I'm so isolated right now, and I use social media to feel connected to others, but then I stay up too late instead of going to bed when I know I should".
I've been there too. Scrolling, and feeling worse because of it.
There is a rule of thumb I like to use in life: if something makes you feel better, keep doing it, but if it makes you feel worse, stop!
I feel like ONE of the problems with social media is that we never stop to take the time to notice if what we're doing is making us feel better or worse.
Fast forward a few months (so this post doesn't drag on too long 😆) and I have been working hard at setting boundaries with social media and email. I tried going cold turkey (ie. implementing many boundaries at the same time) but that didn't work- so now I'm taking it slow, making one change at a time.
Two changes I have been successful with so far:
1- I don't touch my phone until after I drop my kids off at school. This allows me to be more present with my family in the morning and pushes back the start of my "work day".
2- I have been doing a Sunday social media detox. No posting posting to my feed or stories, and no consumption. When I was a little girl Sunday was always a day of rest. Stores were closed and we went to church. Things seemed a whole lot simpler back then. And that's what I'm striving for: more simplicity.
What I'm working on now is my night time boundary: powering down. I find this one a lot harder- probably because I've been disciplined for most of the day so I feel I have permission to 'rebel' at night. But baby steps, right? Just the act of me telling you that I will be off my phone by 9pm every night will help me get there. And looking forward to a good book and bath before bed, things that actually make me feel better and not worse!
If you've stuck around till the end, bravo 👏🏼! This was a long one. And (I believe) a really important one. I hope you use my story as inspiration to either:
- become more aware of how your phone/social media usage impacts you (and other people's) lives
- try setting some boundaries for your own digital consumption behaviors.
As always, I'd love to hear from you- can you relate to my story? Have you already pared down your social media feeds? Do you have any tips for me???
Lauren is a trained neuroscientist, who after a decade of teaching left her job to start her own business. Her struggle with migraines and anxiety is what brought Lauren to yoga, and kept her coming back as it became a medicine for both her body and mind. Today, Lauren is passionate about teaching meditation and yoga to a large audience as tools to develop more resilience and joy, with less anxiety and overwhelm. Lauren lives in Montreal with her husband and two children, Cedar and Oscar.