Am I A Social Media Addict?

by Jennifer Richards

When you google “can going on your phone too much can affect the shape of your thumbs?”, maybe it’s time to put down the phone. That was me, Monday night, holding my thumbs together, trying to figure out if my ‘scrolling’ thumb looked bigger. By the way, it definitely does. This would be the moment any sane person would realise they go on social media too much. Yet because I still hate Facebook and barely post on Instagram, I convince myself I can’t possibility be addicted to those colourful little apps. So how come I fill empty minutes by scrolling through my feed, looking at photos of people I’ve not spoken to in years?


Loading Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and now waiting for Snapchats to load, have become a reflex to fill time. Even though there’s about a million other things I know I should be doing. If it’s a quiet bus ride, I should also just be able to enjoy sitting down for a little while, rather than needing to ‘check in’ every minute (and also using up all my data – oops).

We live in a culture of ‘FOMO’ where we don’t want to feel we’re disconnected for even a second. Yet we already know this; we’ve all be warned against it, and been told off for being part of ‘generation phone’. But no one tells us how to stop it, it’s just some wagging fingers and a ‘it wouldn’t be like this back in my day’. Cheers for the great advice then.

Social media interaction

When I started to think I was becoming too sucked in to life online, I deleted all the apps. Only to re-load them a few days later. Because social media really wasn’t the problem, it was how I interacted with it. Social media can be a wonderful thing, about keeping in contact with people, sharing memories, as well as spreading ideas and contributing to debates.

The online community can be full of trolls, but it can also be a haven for someone that struggles to find solace in their hometown. Being a social media volunteer for a charity also means I get to see the benefits of it first-hand. The truth is I had just started to value life online over life offline, and that was the problem. The last image before I went to bed would be Selena Gomez’s new Instagram post, wondering why my hair can’t look as good as hers (seriously though, how does she always look so amazing?) Then I struggle to fall asleep for hours, because apparently the blue light form my phone is messing with my brain. Great.

Rather than treating social media like a nasty ex I needed a break from, it was all about balance. Not going on any social media after 9pm, putting my phone away when I’m out with friends, and listening to music on the bus instead of checking Twitter. If I find myself using my phone too much, I do a phone detox for a couple of days, where I don’t go on social media at all. To be honest, I do it just to remind myself that I can do it, without self-combusting into a display of hashtags and like buttons.

My new relationship with my phone

I still struggle with the no phone after 9pm rule, so much so that I now put my phone in a drawer and use a good old fashioned alarm clock to wake me up the next day. However it is really nice not feeling so dependent on my phone. Sure, I’ve not done an Ed Sheeran and disconnected myself all together, but I’ve taken a step back. When I’m doing something, I’m enjoying it, rather than thinking ‘this would make such a good snapchat story’. And not focusing on the more superficial side of social media has also helped me see the really amazing parts.

Reading the stories people are sharing, rather than just looking at celebrity Instagrams, has been so insightful – though I do still love the occasional T. Swift stalk… If you find yourself itching for those apps just a little too much, maybe it’s time to switch off, at least for a little bit; Twitter will still be there tomorrow.

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