I’m probably like the vast majority of Facebook and Twitter users these days. Constantly checking and reading what other people are doing in the world. Finding cool things to tweet, share, watch and retweet. My wife relies on social media for her work and she is constantly checking and refreshing – to the point of distraction. I keep asking her (nay telling her) to put her phone down when the kids are moaning or wanting her attention. “Can’t you stop looking at it for five minutes?” I say.
Well, that gave me an idea. What would it be like to stop using social media for 24 hours.? So I tried it. And I loved it so much I haven’t checked for 3 days now. I don’t miss it. I did, at the start. Checking becomes a habit. When there was a nano-second lull in life I would swipe my phone and check to see if anything new in the world had happened – adverts, when the next cbeebies show starts, just before bed. Then you’re pulled in and before you know it you’re watching a marching band make the shape of Michael Jackson. I imagine it’s like the lure of a cigarette. Charles Duhigg, in his The Power of Habit book, examines how habits are formed and what you can then do to break those habits. I was very conscious of these “habit loop” markers whenever I had the urge to quickly look. The one I needed to change was “cue”. So when I was with the kids and I felt like I was going to the phone, I would consciously get up and do something – this included going to the kitchen, sitting next to the child, even just getting up and sitting down again.
These actions changed my routine. And instead of swiping, I was doing something different. It made me more attentive to what was happening around me, making me interact more with my surroundings (and my kids) and, as a by-product of wandering around the house, actually made it tidy!
I’m sure I’ll get sucked back in soon enough but for the short time I went without social media, it was like going back 10 years – before it all came along!
Give up social media for a while and, when you log back on, tweet me how you did @jelly_wobbler.
- Social Media has a Time and a Place… (rebeccadempsey143.wordpress.com)