These days it looks like everyone has a voice because of social media. In fact, it is hard to tell what’s real and what isn’t. The amount of filtering that is required is now overwhelming. However, I do realize that there is a lot of good to be gained from social media. The worldwide web began as a way for researchers to share documents and connect to each other. It has now added a number of functions that have extended sharing to almost anyone on the planet, and with social media, it has helped shape and foster many communities.
The real problem is not the noise or the narcissism that get the most complaints on social media. The real problem is it that it has people so immersed in it that they are on all of the time. My kids bury their heads in devices. It’s a constant struggle to manage their screen time. As they get older and prepare to leave home, it is impossible.
Outside of the house, it doesn’t take much to see that I am not alone in that struggle. In fact, it looks like most people have given up on trying to manage their time on screens. I get it. It’s addictive. You get pulled into it. The reasons don’t matter because there are probably too many to care about. Like everything about an always-on world, it is overwhelming.
Devices Shape Our Social Interactions the Way Cigarettes Did in the Past
There was a time when you were the odd person out if you didn’t have a cigarette in your hand at a social event. Today, if you don’t have a smartphone you’re a pariah. The same health and cultural aspects that have changed the way everyone perceives smoking may get their equivalent if and when people start to realize the downside of being always on.
However, we also have to acknowledge that technology and change are inevitable. Neither a good or bad thing. Decades ago, television viewing consumed people. Screen time was 8 hours of watching programs that came on at a specific time and you had to be planted firmly in your seat to watch a show or your favorite entertainer or catch the news. Newspapers arrived at a certain point in the day. You had a rhythm to things.
That lack of a rhythm may be the worst thing about modern phone screen viewing habits. Just like your workout planning and your meal planning need their own rhythms so does almost every other aspect of your life. Everybody has their own life rhythm and it’s not always consistent – I love binge watching shows because with the pressure of family I can only allocate a certain time every week to watching something I enjoy. That time may be Monday or Saturday. It’s a small window. Binge watching a show has just made it so much easier for me to make effective use of that leisure time. It’s fully in my control, and I appreciate it.
Take Back Your Time Online so You Can Succeed Offline
So, I have decided that I need to think about creating a new rhythm because chaos is rarely a good strategy for success in anything. It seems counterproductive to work online and put this post up online and ask people to do things offline, but that's the challenge we all face. The things we read and watch on Breaking Muscle should have meaning in the real world and they only have an impact if they are helping you reach your goals. That can only happen if you are focused on the moment, free of distraction.
Using your phone, being online, working on computing devices are utilitarian activities. They are a necessity of sorts. But excess isn't. Neither is being popular online. Neither is feeling connected online. Your relationship with yourself and with your loved ones are only real offline. There is an insidious aspect of the social media culture of always wanting to tell a story to attract Likes; there's rarely any context and there's always more than meets the eye. But the eyes are the only thing getting a workout.
It also seems like we are pushing ourselves to be like some "ideal" that has been popularized on social feeds. It's the tyranny of the masses, a kind of rush to the middle of the bell curve where we don't offend or appear anything but acceptable to as wide a group of people as possible.
Everyone is different. Everyone has stuff to deal with that sucks. Everyone can't look like a model wannabe. Your only goals in life should be to find health and happiness. It's that simple, and it doesn't have anything to do with what anyone else thinks or does. It's just you in the real world.
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