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Submitted by

Bob Morrell on 27.02.2024

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Going Cold Turkey: Trying to Live Without Social Media - Part 1

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Man waving goodbye to his smartphone

Social media is an amazing distraction. It works out the kind of content that you like, in my case comedians, interviews, clips from great movies and tv series, and it serves them to me whenever I tap on the app. Facebook is more short videos, whereas Instagram is shorter reels and clips. LinkedIn is something I use for work, although these days sometimes LinkedIn is more Facebook than Facebook when it comes to private stories and people baring their souls. Twitter, or X (?), is more news based but still contains plenty of comedy clips and short films designed to influence and attract my time. 

This week I decided to try and stop using these apps for one week. I thought it would be easy. Day 1 was a nightmare. I found myself, using muscle memory, where my fingers would automatically, almost without thought, move to the usual apps. This happened on about five occasions – I was on the apps without any conscious thought. This really surprised me. So, on Day 2 I have moved my apps on my phone and now my most used work apps are on page one when I access my phone, so there is no reason for me to skim over to the SM apps. I have already found myself looking for them once today, and it is 11am. 

I now realise the scale of my own addiction, and I imagine many of us will be in the same boat. Online advice says try limiting your social media access to one per hour. One per hour as a limit? I was accessing it more than that, was I? This is an amazing amount of time many of us are spending staring at our phones, our modern dream catchers. And rather than work on our own dreams we watch what others have achieved. The good news is that rather than look at my phone I found myself tasks to achieve and did twenty minutes of yoga with my friend Adrienne, and had an early night. Day 2 is already better though. I am accessing more podcasts and news related content which I enjoy, and which is informative rather than trivial entertainment. 

I contribute to other forms of social media as well as LinkedIn. I have a channel on Substack where my low-level creative writing is aired. I read blogs on Substack written by Hanif Kureishi amongst others. I believe this to be improving me, rather than wasting time. I don’t really use Threads, or Xing which is another business platform. What I have noticed is that by denying myself SM I am more closely examining my other apps. Firstly, I have many apps that I never use, so a cull is in order. Secondly, without the distraction of SM I am drifting onto property apps and indulging in property-porn – there’s some amazing houses for sales in Northern Spain – in a way that I haven’t for a long time. I’ve been looking at cars on Auto Trader (I have no intention of buying a car) and I have been picking up my guitar and learning a new song using Ultimate Guitar (an app I pay for, but rarely use). So, this is the shift in two days. This week becomes busier, and I am fascinated to see if I can properly stay off when I am out and about. I will report back on the difference an entire week off, makes.