I recently went through every social media obsessed person's worst nightmare when I managed to (what felt like) cut myself off from the world. I’d just got back from a few drinks in town when somehow I managed to catapult my fairly new iPhone 6 down into the toilet. Despite it only going under for a second or so before I grabbed it out the screen had instantly gone fuzzy, so I switched it off and started frantically drying it with a hairdryer. Never do that by the way, apparently you can melt some of the inside components…
Anyway, after a panic Tweet I had some people suggest I put it in rice for a day or so, so I covered the thing in some Uncle Ben’s and said goodbye.
Day 1 Of The Phoneless Life
I can’t remember a time when I’ve been without a phone since I was probably about 11, and I have to say my new life without one didn’t start so well. The first day I woke up late as my usual work alarm of course didn’t set off, and I instinctively went to reach for the phone to find out what I’d missed overnight (but soon remembered last nights dilemma). On my short walk to work which would usually include listening to spotify whilst scrolling through twitter (and trying to avoid walking into a lamp post/person) I was instead pushed out of my comfortable bubble and was forced to be present in the world. I found myself saying morning to someone I’ve never spoken to before in the entrance of the flats I live in and just generally noticing what was going on around me more.
That day at work I noticed a definite improvement in my concentration and focus. I wasn’t getting the usual pings from social media notifications or beeps from emails that would usually have me break away from what I was doing every so often, and I just felt like my head was 100% in what I was working on.
In the evening I went out with the BF and again, I had nothing to distract me with. I was just there, completely in the moment and enjoying what I was doing.
Day 2 - The Epiphany
On Saturday I woke up and instead of the usual routine of lounging around in bed all morning whilst checking all possible social media apps (and feeling like I’d wasted half the day!), I felt like I had a tonne of extra energy and pretty much jumped out of bed straight away! Suddenly I had all this extra time which I wasn’t used to and it was great. We ended up preparing an amazing Instagram worthy breakfast, but with no phone to snap a photo on I just enjoyed it without the worry of having to get the perfect shot to share. The BF also didn’t get his hand slapped for tucking in straight away, so he was happy too!
That day I suddenly realised how much being constantly connected to the world was having an effect on my life. It was kinda scary. I quickly made a pact with myself that this was going to be the start of a peaceful new way of living, and that I was no longer going to be slave to the phone! I’d limit my time on it and take any opportunity to be without it. I could do it!
Back down the hole
On Sunday I managed to get a replacement phone and despite my previous endeavours, within an hour of getting it I was back liking pics on Instagram, favouriting on Twitter and wasting my weekend hours glued to the screen. The pull of social media had sucked me in once again, and like a drug addict getting their hit I went back into the same old routine. It was as if my epiphany had never happened. Sigh.
Don’t worry though! I didn’t take absolutely nothing from my experience and actually after thinking carefully about it all I managed to come up with a few ways to reduce my social obsession, which I think could be useful for you too.
5 ways we can all fight the social demon
So as I said, I did at first fall back into the same routine once my phone was returned, however I’ve been sticking to some simple rules since which have definitely helped and as crazy as it sounds..it's made me feel happier.
1. Make your social media harder to access! Ok so first things first - reduce the temptation of tapping onto one of your social apps by moving them all to the furthest away place on your phone. For me this is 3 scrolls to the right and then into a folder. Sounds silly but before when I had them on my home screen I would just tap onto them mindlessly because they were there. Moving them puts them out of sight out of mind, as they say.
2. Turn off all social notifications! This may seem a bit extreme but honestly this has seriously reduced the number of times I pick up my phone through the day. And come on, the world’s not going to end just because you didn’t respond to someone's tweet instantly! Also just think, when you do get some time to go on your social you’ll have lots of notifications to go through at once and it’ll feel like Christmas yey!
3. Set time limits on your social browsing. Another good tip is to set yourself a time limit for when you can browse social channels. For me it’s a max of 30 mins before work and 30 mins afterwards. This actually stops you from mindless scrolling through the same pictures/tweets you’ve probably already seen and means that instead you use your time online more productively i.e responding to people, engaging with accounts that really interest you. A good way of assisting with this is to use an app such as Pomedoro or just setting a timer so that when it goes, you get off.
4. Set yourself goals. You might even benefit from setting yourself some goals with each social media session such as “engage with 10 accounts of your choice” or "upload 2 new pictures" which again, will stop the mindless scrolling and make your time on social more useful.
5. Don’t post your pictures straight away. Ok so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t share a great snap from a day out or even a really good breakfast (I know I can’t deny my snap happy hands from doing so!) but once you’ve taken the picture give yourself some time to live in the moment by leaving it until later to share it with the social world. Savour your moment with the people you’re with or even yourself, and don’t take time away from the moment to stress about which filter to put on it.
So there you go, that’s where I’ve got to after my glimpse into the world without a phone. I hope that for those of you who struggle with the social pull, this gives you some help too and you feel better from it, cos I really do!
Thanks for reading!