A while ago, I deleted Facebook and Twitter from my phone because I realized I was checking it constantly. I’m sure many of you can relate to this scenario:
“I’m bored… Let’s see what’s happening on Facebook… Oh, these people are doing/talking about these things… I like this, I don’t care about that… Bored again… Let’s check Twitter… Damn, there’s too much here to catch up on… I don’t have anything smart to say and I have to be smart because there is a character limit… Okay, Twitter is boring now… Let me see what’s going on on Facebook!”
And down the rabbit hole we go. I knew more about what was happening on these two platforms than what was going on in front of me. I think the day it really hit home though, was the day I was checking social media on my phone as I walked down the street… and I knocked into a blind person.
Yup, a blind person.
I’m not proud. I had bumped into a lot of other people before for the same reason– the elderly, children… oh please, don’t say you have never done it! But this blind person thing was an all-time low. So delete away I did.
And damn, it felt good. I was proud and admittedly even thought I was better than everyone else (ten seconds after the blind person thing). But wasn’t I? I was now present for my life, I didn’t feel as anxious, I could engage in longer conversations, and my fingers hurt significantly less. It’s possible, you guys. It totally is.
“But I promote my work on social media!” Buffer, people. It’s called Buffer. No more excuses.
Now, I didn’t delete Instagram because c’mon, Instagram is just pretty pictures and pretty pictures enrich my life. Also, if I deleted it, I couldn’t use it at all because you can’t post from a computer like you could on Facebook and Twitter.
This is what I told myself, and then slowly but surely it happened:
“I’m bored… Let me see what’s on Instagram… Ooh pretty picture… Cute baby… Cute dog… Oh, yay, they got married… Selfie… Selfie… Another selfie…I can’t take all these selfies…Need to get off Instagram…”
Five minutes later…
“I’m bored… What’s going on on Instagram?”
That’s when I discovered that Instagram is a gateway drug. I can say, “Oh I’m not doing heroin (Facebook) or cocaine (Twitter). I’m just smoking a shit ton of pot (Instagram) — but that’s okay right? Because I can’t get addicted to weed.”
Addiction isn’t just physical. It’s totally mental, too. And the more we ignore that fact, the more we allow ourselves to run from reality, which is really what addiction is all about:
“I can’t take my life or my feelings right now so let me ignore them by drinking this, snorting that, eating this, buying that, getting totally involved in what others are doing, seeking validation, obsessing over men/women/both, watching hours of television, working long hours, checking my phone all the damn time, etc. etc. etc.“
Addiction takes so many more forms than we readily (or are willing) to see.
So what would happen if we detoxed? If we took away all the distractions and stopped fleeing from our lives? Is it possible to deal with the here and now?
I think we think we can’t.
We have this tendency of turning away from the bad and pretending to not see it, thinking that avoiding it with all the aforementioned addictions will make us feel better.
It’s totally normal, really. We think we are taking care of ourselves. We are trying to take care of ourselves. But unfortunately, we’re not. It’s like when a kid has a nightmare and they want to sleep with their parents because they are scared and the parents say okay and then let them do it the next night and the night after, and every single time they have a nightmare until they are 25 and they suddenly realize they have a real big problem that they are going to have to face.
Let me try again: We can hide our pain for a little while, sure, but then it comes up again and again and again. And each time, when we stuff it back down with these distractions, we develop a need for even bigger distractions, higher highs, because we’ve built up a tolerance. Our old substances aren’t enough, so we have to eat even more, buy even more, stare into screens even longer.
When you really think about it, what is a feeling but a thing that passes? What horrible situation in your life never ended?
Think about the last terrible thing that happened to you and the way that you felt. It’s awful, I know. I’m so sorry you had to experience that. I truly am. I don’t want to diminish any experience ever. Your feelings, your experiences, all of it, are totally valid but…
You are still alive.
And remember that day you had, that moment long after the terrible moment, when things were good, when you were maybe even happy? Wow. That’s beautiful, isn’t it? The way that some days can really suck and some days, you can be happy just because the sun came up. Well, let me tell you something:
The sun always comes up.
If we have this reference, this hindsight to say, “Oh, hey, this happened years ago and I got through it, I’m still alive,” then why not just feel all the feels when they happen, stop with the addictive searching for those things outside ourselves that we think will make us feel better (but only do momentarily), and just go through it?
In my experience, “that which I resist persists.” It’s a waste of time trying to go around the thing because the thing will constantly pop up over and over again. It’s so much better (and frankly, more efficient) to go through it and let the wound heal. Quit picking at the scab just because it itches now. It will eventually stop itching and soon it will fall away on its own. It’s what scabs do.
So, this is my commitment to myself: Each day, I will try (imperfectly) to quit scratching the itch, stop avoiding that which is in front of me, put down the screen, the pizza, the obsession with what people think of me, and just let myself be. Let life be.
The world will do what it does with or without my interference…
And now I shall post this on Facebook 😉