Mental Wealth Challenge: Day 6

Having been on a business trip, I had to defer my de-cluttering exercise for this weekend. Did you manage to free up some space, or get rid of momentoes that have no place in your life any longer? Or did you find yourself struggling to let go of the sentiment associated with some things that you know you have no practical need for?

Day 6: Take a social media Sabbatical

Giving up bad habits is never easy. Especially if there isn’t something ready and waiting to fill the gap. And good enough to fill it as well. Giving up social media is only possible if you recognise it as a bad habit. But, like I mentioned recently, there is nothing so bad that there is no good in it. The same is true for social media.

I realise that this post is somewhat delayed to allow you to meet this challenge, but you can still squeeze it in over and above another challenge. The point is to determine how good or bad an influence has social media been on your real life. Do you use it to escape your reality, or a bad relationship, or maybe to avoid dealing with awkward situations? Or has it drawn you so far into its clutches that you just need to see who notices your posts, or even just to feel included?

Socially Grounded Thoughts

In a recent post on my Facebook account, I shared a video of Simon Sinek offering his perceptions of the millennial question. In it, he goes to great lengths to describe how dopamine is supposedly responsible for the high we get from seeing that like, or getting a response, or being mentioned. He goes further to suggest that it is an addiction. I disagree. Here’s why.

Dopamine is after the fact, not before. Doing something that makes us feel good results in a dopamine spike. But the dopamine spike is not what we crave. It is the experience of something that we find pleasing that makes all the difference. Dopamine is irrelevant in the equation. It is simply a chemical outcome of such an experience. Addiction is grossly misunderstood and is too often used to imply that we are out of control, or are not entirely responsible for our actions because of our addiction. Rubbish.

We grow addicted to a specific behavioural pattern when we don’t have alternatives, or when the alternatives to get that feel good experience is out of reach or difficult to hold on to. Sometimes we simply choose the easier path to that feel good experience. Again, not because we are addicted, but because we lack the courage to take the more rewarding difficult path. When our personal relationships suck, we look for a buffer to fill the gap of validation or acceptance that we’re not getting. Hence the attraction to social media. Strangers are way more easy to impress because they don’t see our baggage or previous betrayals of the trust of others through a digital persona.

Therefore, the question really is, have you invested enough in your real life relationships to allow social media to be the glue that gives it greater reach? Or have you neglected your real life relationships because social media gives you the alternate reality that makes your real life more palatable while you avoid making the emotional investments that are needed, simply because you are afraid, ashamed, or unwilling to be authentic?

Social media is not the issue. The need to escape, is. How many moments did you fail to truly appreciate because of the rush to share it on social media? So you got the photo and filter just right, got all the likes, comments, and shares that made you feel good, but can’t remember the feeling of the actual experience itself?

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