I spend hours on social media every day. But then in my line of work, I have to.
Yet, even in my off hours, you can find me trolling my Twitter feeds and checking to see who liked my latest photo on Instagram.
I get a rush from knowing my posts are being liked and shared. Nothing wrong with that really. Until it becomes an addiction.
In a recent article, Entrepreneur journalist, John Boitnott talks about the dopamine effect. When you find something pleasurable, your brain starts to crave more of it.
How often have you popped onto Facebook, and then 15, 20 even 30 minutes later, you realize that you went down that social media rabbit hole again? I can’t tell you how many times, I close out Facebook on my computer only to realize that I actually had a reason for going in there. It’s like walking into a room and forgetting why you’re there.
Social media in short bursts is a good thing. It’s fun to interact with people around the world that you would not be able to meet in your daily lives. It’s a great way to stay connected to friends and family. And it’s an essential tool for business building.
But it can lead to addiction.
Social media creates a strong sense of urgency for instant gratification. We’re like Pavlov’s dogs…trained to run for our technology devices at the sound of a bell or ding. Never mind that important report you have to finish by noon. You need to go see who just shared the latest cat meme.
John writes, “When you experience something enjoyable, dopamine is released, driving you to engage in that activity again. If that pleasure comes from something like drugs, alcohol, and, yes, even technology, it can eventually lead to addiction and other issues.
The response that drives you to throw your schedule out the window and check your phone every time it beeps at you can bring problems. You may find that this compulsion gets in the way of a productive workday, which will eventually hold you back in your career aspirations.”
So what’s the cure?
Schedule your social media time. Block out 15 or 20 minute sessions on your calendar and treat it like an appointment.
Set a timer. It’s so easy to get lost in the black hole of social media. Setting a timer helps bring you back to reality when your time block is up.
Patient is a virtue. Train your brain to wait. I promise the world is not going to end if you have to wait an hour or two before checking to see how many likes and shares you got on our latest picture of your dog.
Put it down. Leaving your phone in another room is one easy way to make sure you aren’t constantly checking it.
Do something productive. When was the last time you were outside? I mean really outside..walking in nature or just admiring the beautiful day? If your body reacts to daylight as if you were a vampire, it’s probably time to step away from the technology and go do something productive.
Take a sabbatical. Want to really test your strength? Take a social media break. Even if it’s for a day. Taking time away from social media and technology gives your brain a chance to rest and recharge.
It all comes down to moderation. Too much of a good thing, isn’t always good.