We are in the digital age, no doubt about that. Everyone and everything can be found on the internet. Social media is no longer a craze but a way of life. But the habit of a social media addict has come very close to breaking my family.
I started being addicted to social media a while back, about six years ago. My firstborn daughter was only two years old, and I had just gotten married.
My husband and I agreed that it would be to our family’s best interest if I took care of the kids and he worked. I had no objection. Bills were not as high, and one kid is not as hard to maintain (at first).
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When It All Begun
By 6:30 am, I would be busy washing our clothes. You see, a two-year-old is a handful. They can drive you to the wall, drag you on the ground and make you want to pluck your hair. When I asked my mother the best way to handle things, she adviced that I wake up early and finish with the housework. By the time the baby is up, I had the strength to deal with her.
By 7:30 am clothes would be hung out to dry and I would be preparing breakfast. My husband would be awake by now. We would spend a little time together, and I would prepare him for work.
When the baby was finally up, my work would officially begin. Basically, I had to say no almost all the time, make sure I knew where the baby was at any one time, and still manage to do the other house chores.
Back then, I believed my husband has to find a spotlessly clean house when he came home. My daughter and I were always fighting because she wants to be a child, and I did not want to keep following her around cleaning and mopping to maintain my high level of cleanliness.
At 2 pm, my baby would sleep. At 3 pm her father would be back home, and that would mark the beginning of my afternoon shift, this time taking care of two people. So I only had one precious hour to myself. And that is where I formed the habit of social media.
I hardly ever went anywhere those days, so the only way I could catch up with what was happening was through Facebook or WhatsApp. It was a great time to relax, and social media was not so bad, or so I thought.
Fast forward to a couple of years later. When she turned three years, my daughter went joined school. I was excited. The worst part was over. The baby would now spend a lot of her time in school learning and playing. But this also came with a lot of free time. Time I had nothing to do.
By 10 am all the housework was done, my daughter was in school, and my husband had left for work. And the day was left for me to do whatever I wanted. I became an internet junkie, or if you like, a social media addict. I would spend hours on social media, hours reading anything and everything I could load on a Google page, hours chatting with people about nothing. I was a full-blown social media addict.
You see a mind is an exciting tool. If you do not use it, a vacuum is created, and, in the brain, such a space cannot exist. So I chatted a way to fill the void.
Being that I had no career, I joined a network marketing company that encouraged me to spend time on social media looking for recruits. I would chat with strangers all day, trying to convince them to join the company. Some did, others didn’t. This strategy was perfect because I am terrible at making friends. But online, I did not have to care about these people as personal friends. They had no way of hurting me.
Take It Up A Notch
I then realized that the majority of people preferred to be on social media between 6am-8am, during lunch and between 4:30pm-7pm. In the morning, they would be stuck in traffic heading to work, so social media was a good distraction. During lunch, they would want a break from work, and social media offers this break perfectly. In the evening, traffic would be waiting again.
This caused a problem for me. In the morning I would be preparing my daughter for school while in the evening I would need to be making dinner for the family. The challenge for me is that when people were online, I had to be offline. This would take away valuable network marketing time. The solution, chat in-between the chores.
When I became pregnant with my second born, I had some complications during the first trimester. My doctor advised that I take bedrest which prompted us to get a housegirl. For the next four months, my habit of social media was solidified.
I started craving chatting. I joined numerous groups that made sure that my phone always had a notification to keep me busy. Since my help was taking care of the house, I had the whole day to chat. She would prepare my daughter for school and help her with homework. She would iron clothes and prepare all meals.
In the evening, my husband would complain that I did not want to stay with the family. He complained about me constantly checking the phone and answering messages. He complained about my cooking because I was too busy chatting that the few times I had to cook the food was tasteless.
And when he complained, I became angry and defensive. I was trying to run an online business. I was talking to my clients. It’s not like I was talking to another man. He had his work to go to and earn from and what did I have? Nothing but my phone, my online MLM business, and the internet. Yes, I deserved to try.
First thing in the morning I would check for messages. And I would keep checking the whole day and sleep late as I talked to ‘friends’. I like how they came and went. No hard feelings. They did not know who I was, so I was safe. Their words could not hurt me. It was just an online conversation.
Because of the bad habit, I probably drove my family into developing their own bad habits. My husband who previously did not watch football started following matches. He hardly misses a game when his favorite team is playing. He will even watch a rival team’s game to see how his team’s chances to advance will be affected. And my kids spend time watching TV, which was a good distraction so they won’t bother me as I was ‘working’.
Social Media Addict Habit loop
My habit loop looked something like this.
Routine: Social media
Reward: Human connection and an enjoyable day.
The conversation of being a social media addict emerges whenever my husband and I disagree. It has become such a critical statement that he admitted that it was driving us apart. I would rather spend time on WhatsApp than watch a movie with him and the girls.
Now that I am on the ‘break the habit year’, I have finally decided it’s time I stop my social media addiction. If I do not, I will drive my family further away.
To develop a healthy relationship with social media, this is what I have done.
- Uninstalled all social media apps from my phone.
- Removed all games from my phone
- Installed an ebook app on the phone
- Fired my help at my business
The unhealthy habit of a social media addict must break before it breaks me. One of us will win, and that must be me.