As we emerge from the Christmas and New Year break, it’s easy to revert to old habits: far too much screen-time, checking devices all day, angsting about likes and dislikes, and not taking the mental breaks we need.
A new year, a new slate – yes, that feels good. But dragging our old device-heavy habits with us everywhere all the time might mean we are soon clogged-up and exhausted again.
It’s not that social media is a bad thing. You can’t unmake the wheel or turn off the internet – it’s here to stay. The issue is the extent to which we let our lives be driven and riven by the internet’s ever-pervasive reach.
On BBC London today, I was asked as a psychologist and psychotherapist what a ‘healthy’ amount of social media would be in the new year. Of course, each of us has to be honest with ourselves just how much we use it and when.
If you are constantly caught in ‘compare and despair’, checking out your love rivals or trying to emulate influencers and celebs, you may end up pretty miserable.
Plus, measuring your self-worth by your likes and followers can be pretty addictive – and to some extent, pointless. To stay sane, it’s important to keep one foot on the ground when checking out friends’ and exes’ lives.
The key point is to ask yourself how often you are able (or willing) to turn off your device(s) completely and be at peace.
When you go for a walk, watch something, chat with a friend, are you also constantly phone scrolling? This can make you pretty hard company for others and may mean you are never really present.
It’s the split attention that is causing us so much difficulty in being able to concentrate and focus elsewhere in our lives. Our devotion to our devices, although understandable as hyperconnectivity seems so sexy, might actually be making us more isolated, paranoid and frustrated and dare I say it, unattractive?
So start the New Year a bit more slowly, if you can. Remember those lessons from lockdown – listening to the birds, moments of silence, time to think, and long, deep sleeps.
Give some of this to yourself as a New Year’s gift.
Don’t be afraid of the silence – drink it up and stay healthy.