Gonna begin this post by saying: I freaked out this morning & felt the “craziest” I’ve been in some time bc I woke up w a thought that scared the shit out of me & consumed me. Will get back to this morning later on though.
The most common things we hear now, related to social media are: “it’s destroying our MH”…”it’s making our kids anti-social”…”it’s fostering isolationism”…”it’s stopping us from being in the moment & present at events we attend.” All this may be true. In terms of logically how it sounds, it certainly passes the smell test, & is easy to believe. But, is there potentially an even more dangerous side effect to social media over-use & addiction? We’re still in the infancy stages of how these gadgets, & the apps on them, truly affect us.
Taking you back a 3.5 yrs, many of you know from hearing my personal story (maybe at nauseam), that I went the next 2.5 yrs essentially starting at the ceiling, “dead to the world.” Ok, fortunately a yr ago that passed…TSRR (trauma & stress, release & rewiring) practices helped me get a semi-normal 😉 life & routine back, & my desire to help ppl w their MH sprouted.
All sounds positive, right? Good momentum, things are taking shape, brand is being asked to help all over…all seems positive. YET…my interests & desires for other things outside of work hasn’t come roaring back in nearly the same way – at all. For a while I haven’t freaked out about this. Learning what I have about MH, my theory has been – let me keep doing trauma & stress releasing & rewiring practices, make room in my brain/body & the interests for the others things will come back as strongly as my work passion.
Thing like: playing sports, watching sports, seeing family, eating great food, dating, watching funny movies, getting in great physical shape, etc. have been “buried.” I’ve always been a pretty simple guy – so give me that list of things above to get involved in, before this whole crash, & I was content.
Part of my crash however, looking back, was my myopic focus on work. While social media wasn’t popular during the heart of my early career, email & texts & deadlines certainly were.
Work became my main focus, & the list of things above, that I enjoyed doing, took a back seat. It happened over time, & I justified it, but nonetheless, I became a one-dimensional person. We vilify ppl like Josh Gordon for getting addicted to drugs. Well I was addicted to my work, & it was no better. I still crashed bc my “tool” to cope wasn’t a positive one.
Now back to my thought this morning. I went to bed last night reading one of the many article out there describing the science behind how social media gives us a dopamine hit, & that’s why we get addicted. We keep looking for that next rush, & it’s right in our hands. For me the rush comes from 1) posting a blog, 2) reading others’ motivational posts/quotes on their own blogs, 3) conversing on comments on the blogs. I’m not much of a “likes” person, but I get that too is often something many check & get that “hit” from, refreshing their feeds feverishly.
So after reading this article, I wake up this morn & I realize – holy &$@!- I can go a whole day & not watch TV, not listen to music, not play in a rec league, not watch my team play a game that night, not care what food I eat, & STILL feel like a had a productive “good” day. That may sound healthy, but it’s not! I started freaking out bc here was my thought: “Oh no, just like I did w work for so many years, my work now + social media, is so consuming, that my ‘new normal’ is to be missing the things that made me, ME.”
More freaking out came from the question of: did I literally burn the neural-pathways to enjoy other “normal” things that were part of my diverse routine in the past – bc these social media & work things were “taking their place”? So, of course I did what I always do when I freak out – I called one of the alliance experts. I won’t call her out publicly – but she totally understood what I was saying…& totally put me back at ease.
Her take: yes – social media is addictive. Yes it’s dangerous. Yes we can search for & find our dopamine hits that get us through the day from IT alone. And NO, that’s not healthy (how many of us have kids or family members that come home from school & have no desire for extracurricular activities & instead stick their noses in social media ALL night, maybe prying them away for a short bit IF you can get them to do their homework?
But, what she told me was – just like you can create new neural-pathways for feelings & emotions, so too can you create them to get your hobbies & desires back. It’s stinks that this is how it works – but we literally have to “make” ourselves do the things we used to love to do naturally, in this modern age of social media. I literally told her – I’m going to “practice” putting my phone down & watching TV right now. It sounds ridiculous, but it’s so true.
Yes our interest may change over time, but please do this (& I’m gonna do it along w you): think to what you do now, vs what you did in a given day 10 yrs ago, & notice if there is a big difference. Yes our lives get busier, but ask yourselves, do I MISS doing those things I used to enjoy & if not have I replaced them (e.g., learning an instrument now instead of playing softball on the wknds back then). Bc if the answer is no, & your amount of cellphone & social media use for the day is very high – you may be addicted like I am/was…& it may be time to start re-introducing other hobbies back in, even if forced, to re-obtain a healthy balance. Hopefully you’re not scared to the level I was this morning…but enough for you to self-evaluate & make some changes if needed!