It is hard to admit it. I fought accepting it for years. The signs were all there. Multiple friends and family members pointed it out. I denied it, to them, to you, and to myself. It is time to admit it – I am an addict, a social media addict, and you probably are too.
I jumped on the social media bandwagon early. I was one of the early pioneers of social media marketing, one of the few dinosaurs (though I am only 38) left from back in 2007/2008. I’ve been in social media marketing so long that my first client converted VHS tapes to DVD’s and we made a Myspace page for them. I’ve been recognized by all the Forbes and Inc and various publications as one of the top marketers, top social media marketers, top philanthropist, and most influential people on social media, year after year. Social media marketing has been my livelihood. It has been my career and and I am one of the best at it in the world. But it has come at a heavy price, one I need to stop paying.
Being a social media marketer for a living means that I am never away from social media. I’ve justified my usage of it by saying that it is what I do for a living. That is a fair justification. However, justifying it in that way made me blind to how my personal social media life was slowly destroying me.
I have strong interpersonal communication skills. I can carry on a conversation and make friends with most anyone. I love being around people. Give me a quality hour with a good friend or family member and my day is made. However, few, very few of my relationships are like that these days. In fact, if I cut off social media right now without warning, 95+% of my friends would not know how to get in touch with me, and if they did, they’d not know how to interact, there would be no posts to comment on, no way of clicking like on something I said. I don’t have that many deep meaningful relationships anymore. I have over one million combined online followers on social media, but I’ve not seen a friend in person in over two weeks. My social media addiction is destroying my relationships. It gets worse.
Social media is contributing to me being unhappy. Social media can’t make anyone unhappy without their permission, but I’ve given them the keys to that vehicle. Most of the anxiety I feel is somewhat related to social media. Sometimes its various political issues that I allow myself to get wrapped up into. Sometimes it is work related, an add Facebook won’t approve, a Twitter account I got locked out of. Sometimes its because of a relationship, that friend that has not replied to a DM. We’ve all had each of these happen to us, but what I have learned is even more dangerous is that social media causes me to be unhappy because I depend so much on it for momentary happiness.
I am not vain. I am down to earth. I don’t want to be famous. I don’t require a high amount of affirmation. But even for me, it gets addicting. Maybe I get less of a positive jolt from someone clicking like on my photo than the average person does, but I still get a little bit of dopamine released in my bran. Comment on my photo, even more dopamine. Share my photo, hello, total dopamine high. And I have a low need for all of that. I can’t imagine what it does for the person with a high need for it. When it does not come, it’s time to post again, it is time to create more engagement, gotta get that fix.
It gets worse.
My social media addiction has led to me being addicted to my phone. I check my phone non stop. I am almost always thinking about how to capture a moment with a photo and what to say about it when I post it on social media. I am writing this blog post, about how I have an addiction to social media, and I am plotting the best way to share it on social media, and you’e probably reading this because I posted it on social media. I told myself I don’t have a problem because I check my phone less than others in my industry. But, I admit, I am addicted to the social media on my phone. If I am not checking my clients social media (which I check 3-4 times more than I reasonably have to) I am checking my own personal social media, and if there is not an alert (and with over 1 million overall followers – there are always alerts) then I am sifting through other peoples content looking for what I can leave a funny comment on or provide some wisdom. I am never without my phone. I never go more than 5-10 minute without checking it.
I am running a 100 mile race in 12 hours. 100 miles through a beautiful area, autumn leaves falling to the ground, fellow runners with a shares passion, just me and….my cell phone and my social media. All my preparation is in how I am going to share about it on Instagram Stories and how to live stream it and how to make sure I have enough battery power. That is when you know you have a problem.
I have a social media addiction, and it is time to take action. I don’t know what that means, yet. I will pray on it, but it is highly likely that I won’t be using social media, personally, much longer. It is a drug, and I am addicted to it.
I want to reclaim real relationships. I want to hear about my friends days over the phone, or better yet, over a glass of wine or whiskey. I want to let people I know that they are appreciated and that I love what they’re doing not by clicking like but by shaking their hand and patting them on the back. I want to help a cause not by clicking to donate $20 on Facebook or GoFundMe but by handing a sandwich and a warm jacket to a homeless person and spending time listening to their story. I want to get back my life.
Who else is feeling this way? Who else is addicted to social media? Who else wants to reclaim real relationships? Who else wants to put down their damn phone and be a human being again? I smile just thinking of how free that would feel, the freedom of not being controlled by my social media addiction.
Social media is a drug. Over a billion people are addicted. Let’s reclaim our freedom. Lets reclaim our Life and Liberty!