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What your (social) media addiction is telling you...

Let's be real my friends - we all have it. The uncontrollable urge to pick up our cell phone when we hear that notification chime... The time lapse when we 'just quickly' look at our favorite social platform - and before we know it, it's 40 mins later. The 'FOMO' when we don't check in on our favorite groups or forums. And even (and I'll include Netflix here) that 'chill' feeling when we settle in for our favorite show at the end of a long day... And maybe you have even 'binged' through enough episodes of something to see Netflix' friendly "Are you still there???" screen to check in whether you didn't actually walk out on them.

One of the most frequent challenges I hear from clients is how they 'procrastinate' on what is actually important. And I always ask: What is it you do when you procrastinate?? - 9 times out of 10, social media of some description is the answer... sometimes followed by a weak attempt to justify, like: "But I watch quite a lot of YouTube, learning about how to... xyz" - O...K....

Whether this is you, and whether you're finding this frustrating, disturbing - or 'not too bad' - there are some things your (social) media habits may be telling you that can be very helpful in your journey to improving your life overall... so let's check in with that and then make some informed decisions.

Your 6 human needs

We all have 6 basic human needs (in varying order of importance):

  • Certainty - the need to feel safe, secure and know we'll be ok

  • Variety - the need to feel excitement, adventure and be positively surprised

  • Significance - the need to feel important and like 'we matter'

  • Love/Connection - the need to feel close to other beings

  • Contribution - the need to serve or add value to something outside ourselves

  • Growth - the need to develop and progress mentally, physically and spiritually

- and we ALWAYS find a way to meet these needs - especially those most important to us. And we can meet them in different ways: We can feel significant by volunteering at a soup kitchen, by feeling 'more informed' than someone else or by getting lots of 'likes' on Instagram...

So when you reflect on your media use, you can ask yourself: "Which one of my needs am I meeting here?" - Am I looking for distraction (variety)? Am I looking for certainty (instead of tackling that difficult task at work where the outcome is uncertain)? Am I looking to contribute to others, to feel connection?

More likely than not, you will find there's more than one need involved... They say anything that meets more than 3 of our needs at the same time is addictive - and a lot of these platforms are DESIGNED knowing exactly that.

So how can you use this information? - Ask yourself: How is my life lacking in this particular need outside of media? How can I meet this need in OTHER ways, i.e. in the real world? Maybe you could make a commitment to meet with friends more regularly, to volunteer, to try a new hobby... Identifying your top 2 needs you meet through media consumption will make it easy to come up with exciting alternatives.

Your goals / purpose

There are some funny things that happen with goals - and even 'life purpose'. We can be clear - or not so clear - on what they are. Most of us know that experience. But we can also pitch them at different levels. If you find that you are immersing yourself in media, this often means that either you lack clarity on your goals or purpose... or that you have pitched them either too high (they feel unattainable, you're overwhelmed and instead revert to something that's easier... like watching YouTube) or too low (you know that you'll achieve them easily and therefore you feel like you have spare time - or you're simply not inspired by them and therefore find it hard to find the motivation to get started).

A good way to get to the bottom of this when you find yourself procrastinating instead is to simply check in with yourself:

  • Do you have absolute clarity on what you could be working on right now that would take you closer to where you want to get to?

  • Do you feel INSPIRED to work on this (and if not: why not?)

  • Do you feel OVERWHELMED or like you're pushing water uphill?

Any of these may mean that your goal setting and purpose need a bit of attention. Or, to put in other words: People who are totally ON FIRE about their life mission, know how to make it happen and have a fantastic team of support around them very rarely get sucked into social media - in fact, I recently read about the founder of twitter who not only has NO social media accounts (other than paying people to run them for him) but has also BANNED all social media on his children's phones... go figure!

Your emotional home

This is a relatively new realization I had when reflecting on my own use of media recently. We all have an 'emotional home' - an emotional state that we habitually tend to go to more often than others. I think one of two things can and DO happen with social media (which is actually quite incredibly ingenious on the part of the designers of these platforms):

  1. They REINFORCE our emotional home, meaning if we tend to worry a lot, we'll see more worrying stuff. If we tend to get angry, we'll be more involved in explosive and polarized threads. If we tend to be silly and fun, we'll probably see more dancing cat videos...

  2. They COMPLEMENT our emotional home, meaning they allow us to experience emotions we don't generally experience in a normal day. We may seek the thrill of a horror movie or the sweet bliss of a romance drama when our own day-to-day existence feels a bit short of zombie attacks or titanic-worthy passion.

So - take a moment and look at your feed from a 'meta-perspective'! What are the majority of the posts about? What type of movies or clips pop up 'recommended' for you? And how do they relate to your 'emotional home'?? Are they giving you MORE OF and AMPLIFYING what you feel on a daily basis (some good clues there!) - or are they COMPLEMENTING what you're NOT feeling enough of (being real honest for a second here!). Maybe it's both?

And now... what?

Maybe some of these reflections have given you some clues about what may be going on in your life. Often all we need to fix things is a good quality question, so simply moving on to "how can I meet my needs in a better way?" "How can I find more clarity and purpose?" or "How do I create more excitement/passion etc in my life?" can set you on an exciting journey of discovery.... However, if those questions still leave you puzzled (but you sense there's something there) you could also try out some coaching to help you through the process.

Either way, I'd love to hear what you discover - click on 'comment' below and let me know what resonated and what didn't!!

Oh, and last not least: once you have these deeper and more fundamental issues taken care of, you will find it MUCH MUCH easier to implement some or all of the great 'media avoidance' tips and tricks, such as:

  • Turning off ALL notifications (sounds and visual) for ALL platforms

  • Installing a time tracker software on your phone (or check the inbuilt function)

  • Installing a 'feed kill' or 'blocker' software on your phone, limiting your access to media platforms

  • Hiring a social media manager (if you're a business owner) - that one is my next step!

Much love,

Natalie xx

PS: If, instead of procrastinating on your social accounts, you'd love to spend some quality face-to-face time with some real human beings talking about helpful stuff - join us for one of my upcoming 'Next level' zoom sessions! We meet fortnightly, covering different topics of how to get YOUR life to the next level - all in a friendly and cheerful community environment. Would love to see you there:

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Alia Sabry
Alia Sabry
May 10, 2021

This was a great read. I noticed as well that when I was trying to resolve specific issues i have with social media, they often were issues I have in my real life (mostly less favorable ones).. that's when I saw that it reeeeeaaally amplified them. The other challenge is finding a replacement for these apps because everything seems to be happening on there.. so finding alternative digital mediums for communication is very difficult. In Egypt if you're not on WhatsApp communication with others becomes quite hard.

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