In this last year, I noticed my social media usage dropped roughly inversely proportional to my meditation practice. I found that very interesting. It wasn’t that I hadn’t heard or read about the harm of heavy social media usage, but I didn’t consider myself to be a heavy social media user at all.
I think meditation helped me to become more aware of my daily habits and one thing I noticed was that I would check my phone regularly without really expecting something important, it was like a subconscious habit. Or more like an anxiety. Cal Newport brings up these two points in his TED talk about social media.
Harms of social media:
- Professional cost because of fragmented attention. Social media is designed to be addictive and research shows that the constant state of fragmented attention brought by heavy social media use can permanently reduce your capacity to concentrate.
- The more you use social media the more you are likely to feel lonely and isolated. The carefully curated positive portraits of your friend’s feed are likely to make you feel inadequate and more depressed. The constant stimulation of intermittent short rewards coming from social media use creates a pervasive background hum of anxiety. Along with the smartphones on campuses came an explosion of anxiety disorders.
Reading about is one thing but becoming aware of how much it really screws with our brains is more difficult. So here some habits I adopted which really helped me regarding this.
First, I put my phone in airplane mode or at least in complete silence — without vibration — during most of the day. Not just at work but at night too when I just want to relax. This is a game changer, you will notice that the moment you try to reach for your phone at regular intervals automatically during the first days.
Once you get over the initial anxiety, you will be much more relaxed, anxiety will be greatly reduced and you will become more productive. You will finally be able to do some deep work.
Also published on Medium.