O!, what a tangled web we weave. More and more people feel caught in their own Social web instead of in their real life (RL). And all social skills are not created equally. — BadWitch
Readers Are Spellbound & Perplexed…
Dear GWBW— Help me! I’m being held captive in a Social factory! I spend wayyy too many hours every day at my socials. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Is there such a thing as balanced online life?! — Nothing but Social Life
Dear Nothing but Social Life,
I call obsession to being online constantly BSOS, or Bright Shiny Objects Syndrome. Let’s be clear: you have an obsession (a mental preocupation) not a true addiction (a dependency) — but sadly it’s funnier to say you’re addicted when it comes to something so seemingly small yet insidious as Social networking. This phenomenon is relatively new to the past 15 years, give or take, and it does represent a real and potentially damaging and problem for kids or teens — anyone still developing (physically (brain), academically (reading/spelling), emotionally and socially (critical thinking, emotional balance, and inter-/intrapersonal communication)). The debate’s still out on whether social networking and massive hours online for kids is good or bad. Depending on what age/stage you are, the problem as you described it can affect one differently.
Spending the majority hours of your day online “being social” is not the same thing as actually Having a Real Life, which takes skills, time and effort, and practice. If you have a RL, then web Socials can be an enhancement, not a replacement. My advice in a nutshell: Go outside and play! One feeds the other. The inside of your head is never as fascinating a place to anyone else as it is to you. Just the facts, ma’am/sir. The classic building blocks of social, cultural and personal development still hold true: learning how to read and write (properly) gives U a leg up 2 understndg ur world historically and presently, which assists in having conversations with others to stimulate and grow your brain’s logic, speech, spatial and judgment centers, which all add up to the ability for having a fuller, more satisfying and balanced social life.
While out of balance Social networking is an obsession rather than an addiction, I still recommend checking how OCD a personality you might have as a good starting point to help you identify some of your behaviors and/or motivations. Otherwise, “addiction” to Socials is much more akin to work addiciton than a classic addiction (e.g., sex or drugs), and coming to balance is obviously the goal.
Start there. Answer the questions in the article link above, and start understanding what motivates your persistent, maybe obsessive Social usage. You can always try implementing a couple simple Social habit-breaking rules for yourself over 6 weeks (time to change a habit).
Balance your RL & Social lives: 1) only log on if you actually have something truly interesting and/or “newsworthy” to say, and; 2) if you can say it all by spending no more than 30 minutes a day updating, Replying, or browsing your Socials. Then between Weeks 2-4 of your habit-changing 6 weeks, drop 5 minutes each week from your time online at your Socials, until you are only logging in for 15 minutes a day. I recommend the stopwatch on your iPhone (a good personal use for a mobile!) or other alarm system.
In all your newly found free time, you can develop your people watching, reading and conversational skills more often in the RW.
Dear Nothing But Social Life,
I hope your social life happens in the 3-D world, as well. The beauty of social media is the beauty of connection. You can connect with friends of long ago and people you don’t know, even celebrities. But unless that is balanced with loving relationships in the 3-D world, you are missing out on hugs, kisses, and infectious belly laughs that roll on and on. The good news is your social obsession may be the very means of stepping back into the real world—you know, offline.
You can find people from your class living in your city and send a message to meet up. Speaking of meeting up, MeetUp.com leverages social media for a 3-D world. You find what you like to do — from archery to cooking, talking about the brain to best happy hours — in the real world and meet other folks who are into the same thing there. Joining groups with similar interests can create lifelong bonds. Jane Austen Book Club, anyone?
Your social life comes with distance built in. Time, location, and an electronic device come between you and your online interactions. You can edit what you say, before blurting it out and can actually delete what you say. Would that the real-world were so forgiving. That is why we can feel more comfortable behind our socials than in the 3-D.
Meld them both for optimum balance, health and sanity. Did you know hugs reduce your heart rate and stress levels — proven. People with close relationships (on and off screen, mind you) live longer than those who do not, again, proven.
Funny thing is if you were a social addict, had to be out in the world and around people 24-7, I would counsel you to spend ore time alone and draw some boundaries in your life, perhaps even using social media as a tool. But, in your case, you have bridged two worlds. You are in the world, but not of it, which may work in the Buddah’s mind to lighten the soul, but if you are here in this 3-D, in a body, well make the most of it. Get out and go places you’ve never been before, even if it’s just neighborhoods in your city. Go for walks and actually chat with strangers. Besides, if you need a hit, check your mobile and upload a couple of status updates, that automatically feed your Tweet.
There’s no cold turkey needed here. Besides the fifth edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders has already by-passed online addiction as an actual social disorder.
Screen time + 3-D time=balance.
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