Unsocial Media: Part 1

By now you’re probably immune to the words “social media”.  We hear it all the time.  Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, just to name the heavy hitters of the moment.  As someone who loved AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) back in the 90s, was on Facebook during it’s inception when you had to have a .edu email address to have an account, and posts to an account nearly everyday, I’m no stranger.  

As I’ve probably mentioned before in previous posts, I have somewhat (ha!) of an addictive personality.  So when I was in graduate school, even though social media wasn’t nearly as prevalent as it is today, I swore off Facebook because I noticed it was taking too much of my time.  I steered clear for several years after I graduated to protect my personal and professional privacy.  However, a couple of years ago I logged back on and have been gaining momentum since.  

When I left my job in June, I declared I was going to cut tithes with my phone since I didn’t have to be “on call” 24/7 anymore.  No work emails.  No worry of middle of the night calls or texts.  No urgent phone calls.  But what I’ve come to notice in the last few weeks is that I reach for my phone A LOT.  Actually, I noticed it long before then, but I told myself the lie that since I needed my phone for work, it was something I couldn’t avoid.

I’m sure you’ve noticed the presence of devices in our world on the rise.  Have you ever been out to dinner looked up to realize everyone around you was engulfed in conversation….but not with people they were dining with?!  Or if they were actually talking to the human being in front of them, they’re probably using their phone to show picture evidence of the story they’re telling.  At the first moment of boredom, we reach for our phones.   Being a passenger in a car on a road trip means hours of scrolling.  And, we all know that being behind the wheel of a car doesn’t stop us 100% of the time from reaching for our device.

More than once, my significant other and I have had the conversation about using our devices less.  We love being active, going on adventures, getting lost in the woods, and other activities that won’t even allow phone use.  But, what we noticed was that as soon as we were done with those activities and had a free moment, we were reaching for our phones.  So, we agreed to try to cut back on what we know and feel is largely a huge waste of our time.  And being busy people, we always need more time.

So, we agreed to use our devices less.  Since this is hindsight, I can say that this was a bad plan.  Agreeing to use our devices less was like saying we were going to eat less, but then not using any type of measuring unit to track progress.  We had no idea how much we were actually using our phones to begin with, so there was no way to actually ensure we were using them “less”.  We also didn’t take any of the social media apps off of our phone.  To me, this was like asking someone with a drinking problem to drink less, but still keep the fridge stocked with their favorite adult beverages.  During this time, I saw on Instagram (see the irony in this?) that one of my friends was reading a book called “Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked”.  I immediately jumped on my Amazon Prime App (more irony) and ordered the book.  Awareness is a double edged sword.

After only a couple of chapters into my new read and I’ve downloaded another app (yes, I’m aware of how ironic and seemingly counterproductive this may seem) to track my screen time and how many times per day I pick up my phone.  So far, it’s been quite alarming at how much time I thought I was spending on my phone compared to the actual amount.  So, I’m going to track my usage for a couple weeks and continue to read Irresistible, all while still trying to back out on my usage.  Hold on a second, I need to check my email.

Jessica Hauser