The Social Media Epidemic

We the people are being robbed. Time, the most valuable commodity we have, is being stolen from us. The social media companies have used psychology to make us servants of our own dopamine. We are the content, we are the talent, we are the producers. They get paid.

The average person spends 2 hours and 16 minutes A DAY on social media. That is almost 16 hours a week and 33.4 DAYS a year. Take out 8 hours a day for sleeping and you are, on average, spending over 51 days a year on Social Media.

Let’s frame this a different way. Your employer comes to you and says “Yeaaah, so we are going to need you to come in on Saturdays from now on. Alsooo, we won’t pay you any money for coming in. Don’t worry though, we will make billions”

If you’re like the majority of us, this is not how you would choose to spend your time. You wouldn’t just give your employer 51 days of work for no compensation. We do however give 51 days to social media companies so they can make billions. The weird thing is we do this while simultaneously saying we don’t have any time!

48% of Americans say that they do not have enough time. Not enough time for their kids. Not enough time to travel like they want. Not enough time to workout. Never enough time for themselves. Does this sound familiar?

What if I told you I could magically give you 2 hrs and 16 minutes extra in your day. Time you could use to watch your child's soccer game. Time you could use to reconnect with your loved one. Time you could spend on yourself and pursuing a passion. Turns out I have this magic wand.

So how do we wave this wand and take our time back? How do we cure this epidemic? We must reprogram our habits that keep bringing us back over 10 times a day to the Facebook app. Here is a quick summary of what a habit is and how habits work. Habits are your conscious programming your subconscious what to do when repeat scenarios occur. This program then allows our conscious to be free to inspect new occurrences. Once a habit is formed it is almost involuntary. Think about it, you are not consciously saying “I want to pull out my phone and spend 2 hours on social media” to yourself.

There are 4 parts to creating a habit according to our friend James Clear, author Atomic Habits. A Cue which is an external event. That cue creates a Craving to do something. You Respond to that craving. There is then a Reward for the action. This equation is how we become mentally enslaved to the big business of social media.

The average habit equation for the social media user:

-Cue-bored, stressed, anxiety, sadness

-Craving-Must check social media

-Response- Check social media and waste time

-Reward- Dopamine hit when a friend likes our post

Now that you are aware of what is going on, do you have the desire to take action? Do you have the desire to give yourself the Christmas gift of time? Here are some tips to start programming different habits to override the previous bad ones that social media preys on.

~Start with something easy. Simply track the amount of time you go on social media. If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it. Most smart phones have a built in app that monitors your screen time. Apple’s screen time app for example, breaks down time used into categories and even more specifically apps. Take a daily note and be aware of how much time you are wasting.

~Understand why you are actually opening the apps. What is the cue for you? For me, I open up the most when I am bored or stressed. It is a way to escape dealing with those feelings right then. Taking an ostrich approach to daily challenges is not good for personal progression.

~Substitute opening social media for a different response. If you notice yourself with the craving to open an app instead take a walk around the office, talk with a friend, or chew a piece of gum. Any disruption in the habit equation will yield a different result so choose a different action and do it every time.

You are not alone in having this challenge. Closing in on 4 Billion people worldwide will have social media accounts. The average time spent on these accounts has risen every year since 2012. Make no mistake, this epidemic is shaping humanity. Program yourself to have the framework to fight against this machine. Take back your time, live more, love more, experience the world before we all become social media zombies.

If you find yourself struggling to break the habit, reach out to me at Habits are my specialty. Giving people more time to appreciate life is one of the best parts of my job.

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