So, the first thing you do after getting up is log into your Facebook/Twitter/Myspace/Friendster/Orkut account? and it’s also the last thing you do before going to bed, your work, studies and chores take a back seat? Problem diagnosed, you are addicted to this social networking site.
Personally, Social media brings me closer to people with whom I ordinarily would seldom interact. Family, friends, colleagues. At some point I veered off and found myself checking these platforms more frequently than before, I actually noticed this because my phone was ever charging.
Most of the time, the stories about my life on social media led to questions about my life. It’s hard to untie the anxiety of waiting for a text message after a good first date from the general anxiety of dating, or to define the difference between unwillingness to engage in Twitter debates and a general unwillingness to enter conflict.
Spending excessive time, often repeatedly and aimlessly, on social media can be called an addiction. In fact, social media could even be seen to have become a national obsession and Kenyans On Twitter know this better.
If you are unsure whether your social media usage has turned into an addiction, take the Bergen’s Facebook Addiction Scale quiz to find out.
We’re far from a consensus on the exact impact of social media on mental health, let alone the appropriate therapy for any negative side effects. I wondered what a treatment program would be like, especially one that required checking an online app, which seemed oddly close to the behavior that I imagined such a program would be designed to control.
With the growing use of social media, these problems will not disappear in the near future. Already, people are talking about how we can unshackle ourselves from social media.
Fasting is defined as the practice of abstaining from food. Electronic fasting (e-fasting) can be seen as abstention from electronic devices and services, such as smartphones and social media.
In order to put an end to the obsessive behavior towards social media, it is important to try to abstain from it or at least regulate usage occasionally.
Total abstinence from social media may not possible, but the following five tips could help to alleviate social media addiction, in the form of e-fasting.
1. Abstain from social media
Decide on a specific day when you will stay clear of social media. This might increase your anxiety in the short term, but the time away will enable you to perform other activities.
If you can do it for one day, then next time try two days or a weekend. When you get back to your social media, you can establish a better disciplined access routine.
Set some rules that only allow you to connect to social media at specific times of the day. For example, browsing for a limited time in the evening or not browsing when in bed.
3. Limit checks on social media
It is not a good idea to keep checking social media pages without a specific aim. The algorithms of social media feeds are designed to keep users hooked by projecting information higher in feeds, based on users’ past interactions. Think of the urge to check incessantly and consider whether it is important or can wait for another time.
4. Disable alerts and notification
This will mean that you are not constantly reminded of messages by your social media platform. Adopting a pull-based approach of your notifications over a push-based approach will lead to fewer interruptions too. This should reduce the desire to check social media constantly.
5. Remove social media apps from your smartphone
If disabling alerts and notifications does not do the trick, consider deleting social media apps completely from your smartphone. As most people access social media platforms from their smartphone, removing these apps would mean less ease of access. You will then only have access to social media from a personal computer.
The aim of e-fasting is to enable you to reclaim your life, achieve a balance of life and not become hostage to social media.