You’re a hardworking millennial. You’ve just worked 8+ hours at the office and finished your commute that just takes way too long. You’re so exhausted from the day that you just want to sit and relax. You get home, plop down on the couch/bed/chair/floor, and start scrolling through Instagram (and, admit it: you probably had bouts of scrolling throughout the day). Perhaps you even flip flop between Instagram, Snap Chat, Twitter, and the like, constantly refreshing for more updates. Although you come home and “relax” every day, you still find yourself exhausted and drained. What gives?
Recently, I’ve been noticing that I have been feeling particularly exhausted and drained of energy. By the end of some days, I’ve had brain fog for what seemed like no reason. I had been coming up with excuse-after-excuse for what could be causing this: work is crazy, I’ve got a lot going on, weddings are hard work to plan, I’m getting old (ha, my favorite excuse of all), etcetera, etcetera. The cold hard truth is that I was spending way too much time interacting with Instagram. The thing is, working, doing life and getting older shouldn’t leave you feeling completely void of energy.
There’s a reason why you’re so exhausted after you’ve done nothing but scroll through your phone. Something you might see as mindless as passively looking at what other people are up to can actually be extremely taxing on the brain (and body—hello, text neck). In all my years of being on social media such as Instagram, I am just now realizing how much of an energy exchange it all is. Think about it: you open up the app, new photos pop up, you scroll down until you: get bored, get distracted by something else (perhaps leading you further into a vortex), or get caught up on everyone’s posts for the day.
I don’t know about you, but Instagram and other feed-based social media quite literally hijack my mind due to not only the sheer volume of content consumed in a short period of time, but also the multi-dimensionality of it all. On Instagram, the posts you come across can go from happy, to sad, to disappointing, to disturbing, to frustrating, to thought-provoking all in a matter of SECONDS. Your poor brain is constantly taking in new information every few seconds, and more often than not, each piece of new information (i.e. a new post) is different from one to the next.
This means your brain is processing new information that elicits a different emotional response each time. I’m no neurologist or clinician, but I’ll just go ahead and say that all of that consumption over a period of time cannot be good for your mind, body, or soul. Hence, exhaustion. What’s more is that you have very little control over what you might encounter on Instagram and other feed-based social media platforms. Sure, you can follow certain accounts and unfollow others, but the truth is you never know what people will post and how it will affect your vibe when you see it. And you WILL see it, it’ll pop up before your very eyes without warning. No wonder everyone and their mom has anxiety these days.
So, is there a way to combat this? Most people would advise to get off of social media altogether, but we all know we won’t, especially if we have nothing better to do with our time. I’ve done plenty of Instagram detoxes only to find myself deep in the vortex, back where I started some time after my return. My best piece of advice is this: do other things (that are legal, of course). It’s so easy to forget about being on social media when you’re immersed in YOUR interests and your own life. Find out what your interests and hobbies are and do those instead. Although more strenuous, you’ll find an evening of reading, cooking, painting, exercise or whatever you fancy is much easier on the mind than scrolling mindlessly through social media, subconsciously processing a whole slew of emotions and playing the life comparison game.
Most people don’t even enjoy being on social media as much as they are, they just have nothing else to do with their time. Tapping into your creative side is a great way to keep out of the social media rabbit hole. You could also rekindle old creative flames. Never go home at night without a plan on how you’ll tap into your creativity and/or interests. Always remember: create more than you consume. Some ideas to get you started could be art, music, making videos, photography, writing, a side hustle for some extra cash-money, or volunteering. Don’t be afraid to try new things and learn a new skill. The point is, you should focus on your own creativity and what you enjoy most in the physical world and you’ll see how quickly you can forget about social media. You got this! I can just feel our energy levels rising from here :).
If you’re into reading, a book I recommend for anyone trying to untether themselves from social media or from their smartphone in general is “Digital Minimalism” by Cal Newport. This book really opened my eyes to how reliant we all are on our smartphones and how we need to find ways to fill our time with other activities before we can begin to detach ourselves. One of the overarching themes of the book is that there is a time and a place for social media—and as you can probably guess, it’s not all day every day. Once you un-superglue your phone from your hand, you’ll wonder why you ever spent so much of your precious time on it. Give it a look and let me know what you think!
Make bold & prosper,