The breakup was hard. We’d become so close over the years. With each day, our lives became increasingly intertwined; my secrets no longer mine and mine alone. My thoughts consumed by my need to share, the need to tell and an increasing expectation for validation.
Breaking up from social media was one of the most difficult experiences in my life.
This may seem odd, but I’m so glad this chapter of dependency is behind me.
I wasn’t a heavy user and could quit anytime — at least that is what I said to myself. But was it changing the way my mind naturally worked? And was social media taking away valuable time with the most important people in my life? And how did my digital dependency become so powerful?
Social media is developed on scientific behavioral data resulting in the intentional numbing of our self-awareness. And our organic brains are no match for learning algorithms written with the intent of manipulating our behaviors.
Facebook claims U.S. adults spend nearly one hour per day scrolling, clicking and uploading photos. The math equates to more than two weeks annually — nearly equal to the time the average American takes off for paid vacation. Imagine that. There are as many people spending more than two weeks scrolling, clicking and making comments. And the end result is nothing of any real value that we’re able to carry forward.
Breaking up is hard. It is more than deleting the apps from your phone or removing them from your bookmark menu. There is a chemical dependency you must first break — the very one the rewiring of your brains are feeding you with every like, every share, every view. Through these we become literal dope addicts — the neocortex releasing small doses of highly addictive dopamine as a reward for the visual or emotional input. We become, chemically, dope addicts. Thus, simply deleting the app or saying you will eliminate it will bring on mental withdrawal pains.
For weeks, my chemically dependent brain instinctively fought for its shot of dope — urging me to check my social media accounts, upload a photo of something I might see, or thumb scroll all the never-ending feed of images or posts. Breaking up was hard as my brain chemically unwound itself.
Recently a friend said she, too, deleted the Facebook app from her phone and discovered something remarkable.
“I was standing in line at the grocery store and suddenly struck up a conversation with a stranger,” she said. “Before that I would’ve been scrolling my app.”
“It was like going back in time and I loved it!”
Recently, more of my friends are sharing their recovering journey from social media dependency. Afterward, they admit to being surprised how deeply social media had encroached into their lives. And getting their life back altered how they would forever use the media in the future.
Social media is not too unlike fire. Used purposefully, it can be remarkably beneficial. But unchecked, it can destroy you and all things you hold dearly.