Ironically, you’re probably reading this because of something you saw posted on social media or found in your inbox.
But, it plays to my point; we are all social media slaves.
Okay, perhaps that's a bit harsh, but the symbiotic relationship we continue to develop with the apps on our phones, phablets, tablets, laptops and desktops (and soon-to-be watches) is getting exponentially stronger year over year.
If you find yourself compulsively holding your recognizable fingerprint on the home button every time your device lights up, desperately anticipating what that little red-circled “1” in the upper-right corner of an app could possibly mean, then it’s time to get a grip.
Look, I get paid to manage social media; it’s my job. But does that mean I’m on it 24/7?
I have a life. I have friends. I like to play golf, take walks in the park and work out. I like to read, you know, books. The ones with pages (what?!).
I like to have conversations that require eye contact and define true human interaction.
Case study: I was at dinner with a friend the other night, and with New York being New York, we were sitting really close to the table next to us.
Literally, every 30 seconds, the girl at the next table's phone lit up. It wasn’t even our table and it distracted the sh*t out of me.
I don’t need an algorithm determining what my next “like” will be so it shows up higher in my newsfeed.
Yet, I still need Facebook.
And that’s fine, but what I don't need is Facebook telling me when someone commented on a post I was mentioned in about my friend’s pair of shoes that somehow ended up in the dog bowl.
But Facebook won’t stop, unless I tell it to. And that’s exactly what I want to show you how to do.
Here are five different strategies you can use to defend yourself from “needing” to check every single notification:
1. Turn off ALL push notifications on all your devices.
Every ding, ring, ping, buzz, banner and vibration sends a surge of urgency to immediately see who likes your stuff. Honestly, it’s O-K-A-Y. You’ll live.
Breathe, relax and remember that you’re probably around real people in real life.
Plus, it “seems” way cooler when you let them all pile up and you open up your phone and have a collection of notifications instead of responding one at a time.
Instagram (or any social media platform) is not evil, and it’s not the villain. It just requires us to control the power of push notifications by, well, eliminating them.
2. Only let the number of notifications be visible when you open the app.
Those red numbers, man, there’s just something about ‘em that makes you wanna open the app. Look, there are obviously times when responding to an urgent email matters.
Your job may need you or you may have a pressing deadline. But, would you be so close to that deadline if you spent less time mindlessly scrolling or pulling down to refresh? Maybe. But, maybe not.
3. Do a daily "social media binge."
I get it; Snapchatting, Meerkatting or grabbing a picture in real time is awesome. But that doesn’t mean you have to check everyone else’s updates that instant.
Set aside a time to go through your news feeds, streams, stories, videos, etc. Give yourself permission to be utterly immersed in it for that period of time.
Engage with people, comment, double-tap, go crazy. But after your time is up, get off, hit that little button that turns your screen black and be done.
One notification I’m really cool with is that timer on your phone's clock. Set it for your allowed “social media-binge time.” When it goes off? Time’s up! Get back to real life.
4. Give yourself a buffer when you wake up and before you go to sleep.
Nobody wants to be the person who immediately wakes up and checks his or her smartphone. You’re literally that guy who has to wake up and go smoke a cigarette.
Honestly, read a book (a real book, with pages) at night. Meditate and/or work out first thing in the morning.
Cook a freakin' awesome breakfast. (Don't have time? You sure? How long did you scroll?)
Do this for a week and tell me you don’t wake up more relaxed, refreshed and energized.
5. Use the “Do Not Disturb” feature.
Make a list of the people who, if heaven forbid something tragic did happen, could still reach you.
Otherwise, get off. Make it clear to Mom, Dad and Aunt Sue that nighttime distractions are not to be taken lightly.
Again, social media is far from a bad thing. It's enabled me to make some amazing real-life connections.
It builds communities. It fosters creativity, thought, knowledge, humor and love.
But only if we let it. We still have the control to let it control us.
So, do yourself a favor and peel your eyes off of this screen. Look up.
Make direct eye contact with someone around you. Smile, wave if you’d like.
But, don’t miss out on what’s really happening around you.
When you’re too busy looking down, you don’t see the chances you’ll miss.