EREN ÖĞRÜL
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Social Media Detox

May 13, 2020

I don't know if you can relate it with yourself, but time to time I had this urge to delete all social media accounts, block some websites that I check daily and reduce the time of the smartphone usage within a day (I will call these “junk” from this point.). I do it for a couple of days, or weeks, or months, and then I return to my starting point by creating all junk accounts again. What I was not aware of is that the goal that in my mind was actually not the goal that I wanted to reach.

My ideal goal was to reduce the waste time due to junk and use it for something more beneficial, which is also in line with my values. Waste is not good, right? However, the subconscious goal was to waste and to waste; I needed to create a state of junk is waste. While doing it, my plan was to read a book, or watch a documentary, or write something or spend some time on my hobbies (I will call these “content” from this point.). Yet, it didn't happen. That waste time to be filled with these turned into an idle time, which is also a waste of time. Within time, I was telling my self that having junk or not, I will still waste time; therefore, there is no reason for me to not re-open them. Which indeed ended up with creating my junk accounts one more time. It is an excellent example of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Actually, the goal was not to waste time but to waste time beforehand. And to achieve that goal, I needed to prove there is no difference between having junk or not having junk, and the content I see important is either hard to find or not available, or not important at all. By this, my conscience would be OK with my decision. For me, it is that simple. There is also another point which is related to “makes you feel good, and you want to do it again.“ (I am not going into neuroscience, which is absolutely outside of my knowledge, and a very complex topic to refer to.)

I do think some extend this behavior is a sign of addiction. The longer I use junk, the less satisfaction I get from junk. The less satisfaction I get from junk, my brain needs a kick to make me feel good again, which I learned in the past. And then, one day, I delete them all, and my brain starts to regulate itself. After some time, everything goes back to normal, and this time the addiction kicks in. Within seconds, I find my self creating my junk accounts one more time to feel good again. Because this is what my brain was learned. It is a vicious cycle and for me, I was somewhat aware of it. But, I was still doing it. Because the fresh “feeling good and can do it again to feel good” kick is incredible, and it is supporting my actual goal anyways.

The learning I have now is realizing the content I see essential for me is now in front of me. They were not hiding, or hard to find, or not available at all. Basically, they were in front of me, yet the distraction that I created was making me choose something different -junk again. I don't believe that the content is not hard to find, and whoever is creating and sharing that content is doing its best to reach anyone out who is searching for it, though. But at this point, it is about what my brain decides to choose or ignores. For example; if someone put a junk and a content that I was looking for in front me, or on the same page, or on the same app, my brain would focus on the junk and would either ignore the content or wouldn't see it on the page at all. Because it was fixated on the junk to achieve the goal, and wouldn't put anything in between.

It is so fascinating to me. All the effort that my brain is doing to achieve the goal I have. Of course, it is not a goal that I want to achieve now, but imagine you replaced that goal to actually do something important or beneficial for you or your development -if junk is beneficial for you, I don't have any judgments and go for it. Now it makes sense for me to delete my junk accounts with the goal of replacing that waste time with something is in line with my values -the content. Not with a self-fulfilling prophecy which is being idle or replacing junk with another junk.

All of a sudden, without an effort I came across the content I was interested in, such as veganism, history, programming. And it was really to the point. Again, content was in front of me the whole time, but my brain chose junk no matter what. And with this small switch of the brain, many things became more clear and visible to me. I am not saying that you should delete your social media or spend less time with your smartphone, etc., or claiming that these are harmful overall. It is about being very clear and conscious of the goals and what these goals are basically will lead to us. Because subconsciously it could be pretty much similar to my junk example.