How often per day do you check Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp or even your email?
Do these activities bring you a benefit?
These are questions I have been asking myself regularly over the past weeks and months, trying to determine the usefulness of each of these daily activities. Do they only cost you time, create anxiety, make you feel like you are not doing enough?
The apps that I mainly use are Instagram, Facebook, WeChat, WhatsApp
Generally, I don’t browse facebook much and only open it when I am bored and have nothing more interesting to see on Instagram. For me, the content on Facebook is also different because it highlights more stories and articles and news related items. I do also have facebook messenger but I rarely use it, it’s only for when someone messages me and to stay in touch with a few old friends.
These days I am not particularly active on Facebook and most of my posts are just sharing stories that I want to save and read later, even though I seldom do. The major advantage of Facebook for me is that many friends from my previous life are on there and it’s nice to occasionally follow up and see how people are doing.
E-Mail for me is almost exclusively work related with very little interaction with friends or family. I check it very regularly to see my daily stats on how my business is doing as well as potential emails and questions from new customers as well as new orders.
I would not be able to survive without E-Mail, it’s my lifeline to my business activities and I find it has very litten influence on my life in terms of being a distraction. It’s a necessity, not something I desire to check.
This is where it starts to get very interesting for me. I have a bit of a love hate relationship with WhatsApp, I can’t live without it but it’s also a major distraction by allowing me to be in constant communication with others. When I think back of the time when I had my first cell phone there was no such chat software for cell phones. On the PC of course there was AOL Messenger, IRC, Yahoo Messenger and many others but these were not available on our cell phones. The main way to chat was via text, which was still more restrictive than using a chat software where you can send messages with more or less unlimited length and to multiple people at the same time.
These days WhatsApp or any other major chat software lets you create group and share content to multiple people at once. It is also always available and many of us are a part of so many different groups we are constantly checking our phones, every vibration and beep arouses a reaction from us.
Can I live without it? No! Does it need to be mitigated in some form? Yes
My phone no longer beeps, vibrates or blinks when I receive messages, it doest however ring when I receive calls. I found this to be the perfect compromise so I’m not isolated since everyone I am close with uses WhatsApp and not using is would in a way almost be social suicide. No one communicates via text anymore these days, plans aren’t made face to face, everything is discussed in these chat groups and when you aren’t a part of it you become a semi outcast.
High Addiction Potential!
What used to be the case for facebook for me is now so for Instagram. I catch myself browsing it randomly throughout the day, when I can’t sleep, while i am eating or even sometimes in the car while driving. I often ask myself why do I spend so much time on there?
So far my only answer is, I’m addicted to seeing the lives of other people, seeing what they are doing moment to moment through the stories they share and the pictures they post. I do use it to stay in touch with a few people as well but generally that a good indication of the level of friendship you have with someone. If you never really chat on WhatsApp or somewhere other than instagram, you really are more instagram friends and life acquaintances. It’s very different talking to someone online about content vs talking about your personal lives which tends to happen more for WhatsApp, at least for my observation so far.
How does Instagram make me feel, more often than not, not positive at all, because it’s too easy to forget that everyone is only showing their best side, their best moments in life. They hide all the struggles and only show the world what they want others to see. It’s so easy to forget this, see other people life stories and think how bad your own life is compared to theirs. In reality, it’s very far from the truth but it’s a truth we choose to omit.
In this category I’ll include everything like Tinder, Coffee Meets Bagel, Plenty of Fish, Bumble and whatever else is commonly used around the globe.
I have used most of these apps at one point or another, often using many together simultaneously. One of my previous relationships also started because of one of these apps.
I think these apps do serve a purpose just like everything else but there is also a more sinister side to them that we often overlook. It makes people disposable, if they don’t like talking to you anymore we can just open the app again, swipe and find a new person to temporarily entertain us.
I started off by removing all online dating apps since I really don’t talk to people anymore and basically swipe to just make myself feel good but seeing if others find me attractive or not.
Next is to limit Facebook and Instagram time, either limit or cut it out completely for a period of time to see how I feel and whether I feel more focused and better in general.
WhatsApp and E-Mail, these two will definitely remain but I will try to cut down my time on WhatsApp and focus more on real human interaction and less on the digital kind.