Have you ever wondered why it’s difficult for someone to quit smoking or how there are those who go for a run at 5:00 am every day regardless of weather conditions? In both cases, the behaviour is motivated by addiction and although the comparison seems extreme, scientific studies show that we currently suffer from addiction to Social Media, and therefore, I wanted to put myself to the test.
An addicted person on many occasions doesn’t accept his addiction, or believes he has a control when he doesn’t really have it. I didn’t consider myself a person addicted to Social Media but after this week, I am not quite sure anymore. After reading an article about an experiment made in Austria, at the Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences and the University of Vienna, where 152 students were asked to quit of using Social Media for a week, I was curious to try doing the same.
My experiment began on a Monday and lasted for an eternal 07 days, as I reside in Australia, I had to informed that I would be disconnected, accessing only my email, since both my family, friends and my work contacts are still in Paraguay. People’s first reaction is surprise, questions like: Are you okay? Why will you be offline? What happened? they become recurrent, assuming that being disconnected is synonymous with an emotional crisis. The first day when I woke up next to the first attempt to open my eyes, naturally my body made the movement of looking for my cell phone, grabbing it and unlocking it. Doesn’t this look familiar to you? Very similar to the instinctive movement of the breath, something natural that keeps us alive and many of us do it without thinking.
As the days went by without WhatsApp, I began to feel anxiety. I realize, how we are so used to the "RIGHT NOW" that making unacceptable for us to be waiting. Should everyone be available for us 24 hours a day?.
Without access to whatsapp, I was forced to summarize my ideas in an email, instead of an audio, which also made me reflect on our loss of synthesis capacity. Audios circling without a specifying message, Zoom Calls that translate into hours of ineffective talks without reaching a certain goal, simply to "fill in the hours" and justify a workday, and other examples, where the Technology instead of simplifying the work makes it take longer. It depends on our respect for other people's time, to train our capacity for focus and discipline to talk about the issues that really need to be discussed in a meeting.
Another ghost that came to the scene is our new concept of "being connected" , assuming that it is synonymous with "being available" , when such an assumption does not exist. This also gave me footing, to the countless times that in the middle of a task, I went to the interruption of reading a message, thus losing the thread and the focus of what I was doing.
After a week of disconnection, I received 426 WhatsApp messages, 128 Facebook notifications, 327 Linkedin notifications, 129 Instagram notifications and I can say that more than 50% were not really urgent or really worth my attention. I can't say it was easy, but it wasn't impossible either,
In conclusion, I want to highlight my discoveries and reflection after a week off:
1. We do not own the time of others. Respecting them is also respecting each other, because in this way we will generate a culture of mutual respect.
2. It should not be constantly necessary to "put out the fires" if you work in a planned way, that an email that did not have an answer within the day, should not be a problem.
3. Organizing the times for each task, in order to do it with the greatest possible concentration, reducing interrupting distractions, will make you more productive.
4. All abuse is always harmful, it not needed five messages to expressed one simple idea.
5. Use technology to your advantage, automate all repetitive tasks so that you have more free time for what really matters to you.
To say that we should live without Social Media, would be an utopia, because it is part of our new reality, but becoming aware of the use we give it and how it affects our lives, differentiates us from those addicted to Social Media who take advantage of technology to simplify work and thus dedicate time to what brings them greater happiness.