Yesterday, I posted a tweet about only checking social media once a day, with a metaphor of “it’s like checking the mail.” That tweet got more attention than I expected with likes and expressions of concern, confusion, and support.
I borrowed that metaphor from my boyfriend, but here, let’s build on it. You probably get a lot of mail, right? It’s ads, it’s marketing, it’s fluffy content, for the most part. Maybe it’s the occasional letter or card from a friend—cool!
It’s so tempting to check social media constantly because there might be a *new* thing the next time you look. I know I get caught up in the dopamine rush of newness (!) and get myself spinning on a social media-checking loop. But really, ask yourself: what is that new thing’s worth to you? Is it a letter from a friend, speaking straight to you, or is it a piece of junk mail, addressed to you, the consumer?
For what it’s worth, I checked social media five times today. I spilled a few drops of coffee on my Macbook, so I left it inverted on a table all day. Needing to use the Internet for a couple things on my phone, I quickly got distracted.
As far as I know, no human has the willpower to restrain themselves from the checking loop—or if they do, they’re very worn down and pissed at the end of the day. So, I have Simple Blocker installed on my browser and an app called ClearLock installed on my Android phone. They both help a lot and save me from decision fatigue.
The aim here is really about mindfulness, not about robotically meeting a pre-established quota. And as we know, sharply depriving ourselves leads to frustration and unhappiness. So, maybe I’m not checking “once” but just less overall.
However, the more mindfully I browse the Internet and choose my activities, in general, the happier I am. I like to feel like I’m making conscious choices rather than hypnotically following the patterns that being constantly connected has programmed into my neurons.