Kicking the Facebook habit

8:55 AM


Social media addiction is real people!

I don't know about you guys, but I have reached a point at which I simply can't take the constant condescending crap, nagging, bullying, and belittling that is occurring non stop on Facebook and I am just about ready to just give it the boot. 

Well not entirely, it's still a nice way for my family and friends to stay in touch with me and see my pictures, but I am seriously D.O.N.E with what the platform has become over the years, and frighteningly realised how quickly you get sucked into it. 

This past year has been a traumatic year for all of us on various level, and I can't help but think that social medias exploited that and amplified it. Our freedom of movement went for a toss, leaving us with not only a lot of stress and anxiety but lot more time on our hands we could no longer fill by going out for a nice walk or catch up with a friend over coffee. So, we all did the only thing left to kill that time in confinement : 

Mindlessly scroll down feeds to confirm and feed our outrage.

In our suddenly super blah existence of just roaming around out home with no possibility of escape, being outraged at something, anything was probably the only strong emotion that made us all feel...well...alive.  

Beside, what else can you do with your time?

As the whole grief process of losing "normal" ran its course, I realised that I didn't want to be  made to feel angry, or being provoked into grabbing a virtual pitchfork. I have a pre-teen at home, there is no shortage of argumentative discussion within the wall of my own home without adding a virtual teenager app called Facebook to the mix. 

As consciously as I knew how bad Facebook and its endless drama can be, I realised I also turn to it the way a person would turn to a cigarette to kill time in a moment of boredom and that is when I realised that we probably all do it as a habit, without thinking much about it : 

Bored = grab phone and scroll down feeds absorbing content mindlessly

It's quite disturbing really and I decided a few months back that I had to do something about it right away. 
It's ok to be bored and have no energy for certain activities at time, the problem is how quickly I, and probably a lot of us all, just grab our phone to kill that boredom only to put it down an hour later feeling angry, and sad. 

I recently read a book about digital marketing called "Contagious" (Amazon affiliate link) which pointed out that content that triggers strong arousing emotions is more likely to be share and go viral. This is a tactic brands and medias use regularly to get people to talk about their products and articles. The two strongest emotions are : anger and awe and I challenge you to find any piece of shared content in your own feed that doesn't trigger one or the other of those two strong emotions. 

As of late, I realised that most of the content shared by my friend tend to fall in the anger/outrage triggering category, probably a result of being locked up and social deprived for months and needing an outlet for that pent up frustration. 

We all have a choice

Interestingly, we all have the choice to just switch of the phone, and do something else. We all have the choice to engage in an activity where we have better control of our emotions and mental state of mind. And maybe now would be the time to rediscover these ways of coping with "boredom". 

I personally found out I am more likely to grab my phone and mindlessly scroll when my energy level is too low to do something that would engage my brain and mind too much. We all have those slump moments, and they are normal. If like me, you were a teen in the pre-internet era, there is a strong chance you just played Solitaire on your Windows 3.1 or Windows 95 PC while listening to music after coming back from school and before doing your homework, or grab a crossword puzzle. 

Here are some of the "kill time" activities I found work as well as scrolling down social media feeds to beat the boredom but do so without getting me all worked up : 

- Play computer games

I wasn't joking saying there was a time not so long ago most of us turned to Windows Solitaire to unwind at the end of the day, or played Tetris on a GameBoy (guess how old I am). 
Video games are actually a great way to long as you don't fall into an addiction pattern. 
In moderation, video games are a way to unwind, and still engage the brain in an activity that is beneficial. 
Avoid strong emotion triggering games like fight games, and stressful time constraint games though, they might end up stressing you out further. 

- Adult coloring books

A lot of people shy away from doodling on the pretext they aren't creative or artistic enough to do so, which is why adult coloring book were such a big trend a few years ago, and are still very popular. 

The very act of filling a space with a color pencil is easy enough that a person won't need a lot of mental energy, but focused enough that your brain gets it's rejuvenating workout. In short, it's mindless enough that you can do it on low energy and engaging enough that you will not feel bored doing so, which is exactly what scrolling down your phone does. The key difference is that it's near impossible for a coloring book to trigger outrage in you.

- Go for a walk

I know that lockdowns still going in places around the world might be limiting you a bit, but if you live in an area where stepping out is an option, do take it. Put on your earphones, listen to music and walk for an hour, away from your home, and people if you can. A few years ago, I wrote a blog post titled "Pound to ponder" explaining that walking helped me think clearly and let me imagination soar. 

- Listen to music

Do you remember being a teen and locking yourself in your room to listen to music? Do you remember how freeing it was? 
It still work as an adult, and the instant the non-essential goods restrictions were lifted in India, the first purchase I made was buying a pair of noise cancelling headphones (another affiliate link). 
Back then we were still pretty much stuck home, and I resented having to hear the TV and my husband's zoom calls all the time. My regular earphones didn't block much of the constant noise around me and I couldn't blast my music across the whole flat because it would be disturbing everyone else.  
Taking an hour or two listening to music, lying down on my bed or sitting on the balcony was pure BLISS, take my word for it. It felt like being in my little bubble with no external noise other than the music affecting me. 

- Listen to a podcast

If music isn't your thing,  or if you need something a bit more engaging, podcasts are perfect. I usually listen to them while playing a game on my iPad or while doodling mindlessly. It reminds me of my apprenticeship days when my boss and I would listen to the Swiss national radio talk shows while working on a sofa in our workshop.

- Keep a journal

Sometimes being alone with your own thoughts is a very good idea, there are times when I feel drained emotionally and what I need more than anything is to vent it out, and while you can do that publicly on Facebook seeking validation from friends and family, the best is to simply write it all down on paper, and let it spill out until your mind is clear. I have kept a journal of one kind or another since I was a teenager. 
I currently have a rant journal, self development journal and gratitude diary, I use all 3 regularly.

If you don't know where to start, you can check this blog post I wrote a few years back : "Why Journal and how"

- Watch TV

TV got a bad rap over the years, pretty much the same way video games have, or any screen for that matter. But it depends what you watch and how much of it you watch. 
If you have a moment of boredom, watching a few reruns of your favourite show or your favourite movie on Netflix is going to do a lot more good to your soul than scrolling down Facebook feeds on no end. 
The movie will leave you in a good mood, Facebook will turn you into a ball of anger and nerves. 

- Play a board game with your family

Sometimes social media feel that social void we have, now more than ever, if that is a case, figure out if you would not be better off doing something fun with your own family. 

As a kid, I remember playing those with my parents and sister on rainy Sunday afternoons, and we had a huge collection of these, the all time favourites we played over and over were : Trivial pursuit, Monopoly and Rummikub. I also used to play Rummy a lot with my grandma who was a card game addict and my mom and I used to do massive jigsaw puzzles on long winter evenings. The 1500+ pieces kind that would take us weeks to complete. I used to do these in that time between dinner and bedtime, and it was a relaxing activity that transitioned me into sleep mode. 

It's all about balance

Like TV and video games, social medias are fine in moderation, and quite frankly ONLY if you are browsing through in a conscious way. 
I still spend about an hour a day on Facebook, usually split in 2 sessions of 30 minutes, mostly to reply to groups discussions, and read a few interesting articles some of my friends shared. The instant I start feeling the outrage point its ugly nose, I switch off the phone or the laptop and do something else.  

I owe myself that much

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  1. I am sometimes tempted to sometimes react to facebook posts but refrain from doing so because it is no point arguing with someone you hardly know. Secondly, what you write on a public platform may land you in trouble you are not careful. Even if I do teact, I am careful about the language.

    There is the another issue of having an informed opinion on a particular subject. Most people are not experts and there is such plethora of ignorant negative opinions based on perceptions.

    I confine myself to youtube for information and Facebook is only for birthdays and anniversaries.

    1. I don't use YouTube as a source of news information much, I'd rather read multiple articles on a topic from different sources to then form a more critical opinion.
      During this whole Covid year, I spent a lot of time reading mostly about research and science articles because the whole death reports and how horrible it was and how we were all doomed bugged me to now end :-)

      I don't really refer to news specifically, it seems people are looking at any excuse to get inflamed on FB these days : jokes, meme, sob story video...The trend is apparently to shame all those who don't think like you using very crass memes or statement, or attack someone in comment for doing something as silly as going out to eat.

      It's not too surprising if you know a bit about social medias, digital marketing and how algorithm have been created to feed us more of what will keep us on the platform the longest, because for any social media, the longer we stay engaged, the more money they make from brand that pay for ad space, and the more information said social medias collect about us and our behaviour to tailor content and ads that will keep us engaged even longer.

      As I said in the post, I recently read a book about digital marketing that explains what key ingredients any content needs to potentially go viral. One of which is to trigger strong arousing emotions: anger, outrage, and awe are the strongest emotions that prompt people to share something.

      Facebook, Instagram and Twitter all have at their core design the action of scrolling down at the flick of a finger on your phone. A repetitive act that one can do the instant they are a bit bored. It's easy to get sucked in and having those moments of boredom is in core human nature, our parents would flip through a magazine, do a random crossword puzzle in a magazine. As a teen I used to play solitaire on my desktop when I needed that time out, now we scroll down feeds, but to keep us scrolling, the content needs to keep us engaged, and willing to share...


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