Have you ever found yourself in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, in line at the grocery store, sitting at a stoplight, or just standing in the kitchen with your phone in hand, mindlessly scrolling through apps that shall remain nameless? Me too. Have you ever noticed at a restaurant how there are tables full of families with phones and tablets shining in their faces instead of smiles and laughs shining on them while they share stories? Me too. We are scrolling in the deep, and it’s drowning us!
Now, before I go any further, I just want to say that I am SO guilty of scrolling! Part of my job is to interact with others across various social media platforms, but if I am not careful I can look up and see I’ve spent 15 minutes doing nothing but looking at how “perfect” other people’s lives are! And if I’m honest, it couldn’t be more detrimental to my mental health.
The National Center for Health Research has published numerous studies on the mental health effects of prolonged and/or frequent social media exposure. Results conclude that both the duration and the frequency of social media use create feelings of isolation, depression, and anxiety in young adults. Not exactly what you would expect from a platform that was created to connect people to each other!
If I’m honest, I check my phone a few times per hour, which adds up to roughly 50 times per day! That’s embarrassing to me. I realized this only after my phone started giving me updates on how I use it. Talk about eating a BIG slice of humble pie. It hit me that those were hours I wasn’t spending connecting and playing with my kids, or working on goals I have for myself, or hosting actual people in my real-life home!
What’s the point of pinning all those inspo rooms and recipes or following all the curated feeds if they don’t result in finding real joy in my own home, closet, or on my dinner plate? How do we take all the wonderful things about social media (of which I’ve named none) and bring them to life? I’ve got some ideas:
1. Set a timer, then STOP
I recently set up a time limit for all my social media apps. Boy, was I rudely interrupted by that thing! But it’s a really good, mindful practice to put your phone down for a while.
2. Set an Alarm
Now, this thought just occurred to me! I’m a chronic “checker”, so to break the habit and start living a little more intentionally, I think it would be a great idea to set an alarm on my phone for when I can check it. If I’m busy doing something else at that time, great! Set an alarm for another time. I’ll give this a try and let ya know how it goes!
3. Be Real
The pretty pictures are great, but I can’t get enough of the REAL stories I hold the scroll for! This is something I do on my accounts regularly, but it doesn’t mean I get discouraged by other people’s highlight reel when compared to my daily struggle.
4. Make a Connection
A quick like or double-tap is nice, but don’t miss an opportunity to share a connection by commenting, messaging, or sharing a post with a personal anecdote. It means a lot!
5. Walk Away from the Phone
This one is really hard, I get it! In the age of constant contact, people expect immediate responses to text, two-ring answers to calls, and “free” two-day shipping on all the things. But we can choose to unplug, unwind, breathe a little deeper, and be present with our people.
I don’t know about you, but for all the ways I want to be remembered by my kids when they’re old enough to reminisce, I would hate for even one of them to say that they remember I always had my phone in my hand. I’ve got to stop scrolling in the deep. How about you?