Underneath my yellow skin

Social Media Unplugged

crashing into social media.
A constant social media stream.

Ed. Note: I’m writing this on Saturday, June 17th, 2017, which is the first day of my experiment of not checking social media on Saturdays. I decided to live-blog the experience to fill up some of the time in which I’d otherwise be surfing my social media. If I have to suffer, so do you. Enjoy.

Ed. Note II: I define a day as starting when I wake up and ending when I go to bed. So, my days start around noon and  end five or six in the morning. 

12:45 p.m.

Woke up late, and am already frazzled because I have to leave for taiji in twenty-five minutes. I haven’t done my morning routine, and my instinct is to check social media because I have several notifications. Immediately, I start bargaining with myself. “I’ll just answer my notifications and then say I’m going to be off social media for the rest of the day. That’s a good compromise.” I am stern with myself because I know if I allow for that, I’ll soon slide my way back into social media all the time. It helps that I have to do my morning routine and change before heading out to taiji.

3:15 p.m.

I’m in the restroom at the co-op, checking the temperature as I pee. Verdict: Unfuckingbearably hot. I studiously ignore the notifications until I put my phone away.

4:00 p.m.

The notification numbers are staring at me, mocking me, from their respective tabs. I can’t stop seeing them, so I put them in their own separate set of tabs. It’s in the back of my mind, though, that I should check. It’s time to admit it: I have an addiction. By midnight, my hands will be shaking, and I’ll be scrounging for all the social media scraps I can find, muttering to myself, “I just need one hit, Hong.” Yes, I call myself by my last name; I don’t know why. I’ve been doing it for decades, and it probably won’t change any time soon. For now, though, I’m holding steady.

4:30 a.m.

One way to ease the hunger is to take a long nap. It was so long, I’m tempted to call it my actual sleep and check social media. That would be cheating, however, because I know I’ll sleep some more in a bit. Oddly enough (not really that odd), the longer I go without checking, the more distance I feel from it. I’m tempted to see how many days I can go without checking, but I know I’ll give in at some point.

Ed. Note: It is now Sunday, so I’ve made it through one day of being social media-free. Am fiercely making up for it now.

I woke up this morning*, and the first thing I did, of course, was check social media on my phone. Facebook, not Twitter, because I wanted to take it a leisurely pace. I put it away while I fed Shadow and did my morning routine. Then, I jumped into my mentions and got right back in it.

When I was checking Facebook, I felt OK. The minute I looked at Twitter, though, I could feel my anxiety rise. All the constant poutrage and incessant yelling at each other wore me down in an instant. There was a reason I had decided to take a break from social media, and it was this. Social media, especially Twitter, heightens my anxiety and my anger. It also disrupts my ability to focus on other things because I always have the tabs open. I’ve muted my phone so I don’t get the constant notification beeps, and that helps, but it’s still hard not to glance at the Twitter and Facebook tabs to see if I have any notifications.

I think it’s been good to take a day off from social media, and I plan to do it every Saturday. However, I also think I need to regulate my daily intake of social media. The thing I noticed on my day off was that after the initial anxiety of not checking in every few minutes, it was so damn freeing not to think, “What’s happening on social media?” and feeling compelled to check. The longer I went without checking, the more I was able to relax and let it go.

It’s the social media trap. I think, “Oh, I’ll just check for a second,” and next thing I know, I’m angrily reading a hundred tweets about this, that, and the other thing, for the next hour. It’s a time suck, and seeing the notifications pop up make it seem as if I have to answer RIGHT NOW. There’s a dopamine hit that comes with seeing those numbers pop up, and it’s an endless loop.

More than giving up social media one day a week, I need to curtail my daily usage of it. I think I’ll start by not checking social media for the first hour I’m awake. I don’t need that stress so early in my day. More specifically, I’m going to not check Twitter for an hour as that’s the stressor for me. For whatever reason, Facebook doesn’t have the same trigger-response for me. Probably because it moves at a slower pace and the posts are usually more thoughtful. It’s not as much of a hive mind mentality, and I don’t find myself as pulled into the bullshit.

I may relegate the Twitter and Facebook tabs to their own grouping so I’m not constantly staring at the numbers popping up (or not popping up). Out of sight, out of mind. It’s what I do when I am writing fiction, so I should do the same when I’m writing my posts.

I want to try to go an hour free before going to sleep as well. It’s a way of buffering my sleep to try to make it less shitty than it normally is. I know I’m not going to be able give it up completely nor is it what I want. I get all of my news from social media because it’s instant, and then I back it up with Google research because instant doesn’t necessarily mean correct. But oftentimes, I don’t even find anything in google for hours after I see it on Twitter and Facebook, so social media is the place to go first.

I have other ideas, but they’re not fully fleshed out yet, so I’ll keep you updated. Meanwhile, I have my Twitter and Facebook to check.



*Afternoon, really, but who’s counting?

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