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Social Media Detox: How To Break Free From Digital Distractions

Coronavirus is spreading. There are record swings in the stock market. Trump’s latest tweetstorm is causing a frenzy of rage and indignation.

This is what the world of social media looks like today. Mass hysterics is what gets people’s attention so that’s what the social media algorithms feed us in this age of perpetual crisis.

But what if you just unplugged from it all and let the events just run their course?

More and more people are recognizing this is a good way to maintain their mental health.

A social media detox can give you this remarkable feeling of increased self-confidence and a sense of control over your life because it is a bold step that instantly liberates your energy and attention to do all those wonderful things in life that don’t involve staring at a screen.

After a few days of withdrawal and a frightening number of times compulsively unlocking your phone to check the social media apps that are gone, you may find yourself enjoying life in a whole different way.

For example, when was the last time you woke up in the morning and, instead of reaching for your smartphone, you just laid there listening to the birds singing their beautiful dawn chorus?

The Dangers Of Being Hypnotized By Screens

Have you ever watched a child using an iPad? It’s a profound experience to really stop and notice how hypnotized they are by their screens.

Now, try filming yourself through your webcam or front-facing camera on your smartphone to see how you look hypnotized by a screen and you’ll see that you look no different.

Screens are just hypnotizing us, their digital distractions are wasting record amounts of our valuable time, which always seems to be in short supply. That’s partly because social media is designed to create habitual dopamine loops that fuel the urge for instant gratification, which keeps us compulsively doing things to distract ourselves from our feelings and anxieties.

The average smartphone user in the United States stares at their phone over 3 hours a day, which is slightly less than the time they also spend watching big-screen televisions.

The majority of that time on smartphones for most people is spent texting, reading sensationalist headlines, scrolling in social media apps and of course, multitasking between their smartphone, the television, and other digital screens.

But what really gets us hooked is the endless infinite scroll of fresh new content tailored by the algorithms to hook our attention and trigger an addictive cycle of dopamine-fueled craving for more. Some research suggests that this kind of scrolling may be as addictive as slot machines, which are the most addictive form of gambling in casinos.

On top of all this, we now consume 5 times as much information each day as the last generation did. But how much that information actually has any real value?

A Detox To Escape The Vortex of Mindless Entertainment

Combined with the average person’s television usage, a typical American smartphone user spends nearly 7 hours a day being entertained by digital screens.

Imagine, how much our society would benefit if an hour or two of that time was spent on reading books, learning a foreign language, conversations with friends and family, volunteering in the community, or getting more exercise.

As Neil Postman said in his critically acclaimed treatise on public discourse and modern show business culture Amusing Ourselves To Death:

“Americans no longer talk to each other, they entertain each other. They do not exchange ideas, they exchange images. They do not argue with propositions; they argue with good looks, celebrities and commercials.”

Incredibly, this was written back in the mid-1980s before the Internet made everything much worse. I can only imagine how today’s social media would make Neil Postman’s head spin.

In the book, Postman does a brilliant job of comparing George Orwell’s book 1984 about a totalitarian dictatorship with screens in every room that uses crude displays of force to control people and Aldous Huxley’s book Brave New World where a corporate dream machine driven by an insatiable obsession with money and power medicates people into a docile trance where they actually end up demanding more of what is killing them.

He argued that Brave New World was the future of America and predicted the coming age of social media politics and reality television superstar Presidents such as Barack Obama and Donald Trump, reading carefully worded scripts written by the public relations teams of their political parties and billionaire corporate donors.

How To Unplug And Take A Social Media Detox:

Here’s how to unplug yourself from this mass hysteria for a week. Sometimes it’s best to just rip the bandaid off and go cold turkey.

Try unplugging with a complete social media detox from all non-essential communication apps for a week and see how you feel.

When you go back to using social media in a week, you’ll find yourself much more mindful of your daily habits and all that time wasted on your smartphone. Who knows, you might just find yourself permanently deleting some of the apps that are wasting most of your time.

Here are some easy steps to set up a social media detox for the next week:

1. Ideally, delete all your social media apps for a week. Let everyone know that you’re taking a break for a week and to email or call you if they need you.

2. You should also take a look at your ScreenTime data on iPhone or Android’s Digital Well-Being tools to see which other addictive apps are wasting your time and delete them for a week too.

3. Set a goal to not re-install these apps for at least 7 days so you can remember how you felt before they became a compulsive part of your daily activity.

4. Then I recommend getting a tool like Freedom, a VPN that can block websites and apps on every device you own and block those websites and apps across all of your devices for the next 7 days.

5. Do your social media detox with a close friend or a family member to provide support to each other and schedule a fun social event after the week is completed to celebrate your success together.

Simple as that. Repeat as often as you find necessary to restore your sanity and kick compulsive habits.

Follow these simple 5-steps and you’ll have unplugged from your digital distractions from social media apps for an entire week and gained a whole new perspective on your life.

Do this regularly or at least one week a year to reset yourself. What you will learn about yourself and your relationship with screens might be life-changing.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

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