Have you ever sat in a room with someone and been so sucked into scrolling on social media that you forgot they were there? How many times a day do you pick up your phone and scroll through Facebook, Instagram, Tick Tock, or Twitter? If you’re anything like most people, it’s A LOT. We’ve become so addicted to seeing what other people are doing on social media to give us a feeling within ourselves or getting a like from other people to boost our self-esteem that we’re missing the reality that’s right in front of us.
Why we’re obsessed with social media
What if I told you that we’re obsessed with social media because we aren’t allowing ourselves to feel our own true feelings? We’re looking for validation outside of ourselves when we really can only get it from within or we’re trying to escape our own lives to avoid having to face the feelings from our past or present that haunt us.
Take a look back into your childhood and the rest of your life. I know this may not be fun, but you’ll probably see a pattern of trying to do certain things to get love from other people.
For me, I tried to get love by being perfect. I made sure I got good grades, never acted up in class, stayed quiet, and was nice to everyone (to a fault). I grew up in a family that didn’t really express love and feelings freely. So making sure I stayed out of trouble was my number one goal. As long as I was being “good” I at least didn’t have to deal with any negative stuff at home or at school.
I remember one day in fourth grade, I was talking in class and the teacher told me to be quiet and I was completely devastated. I was in tears the rest of the day. I really hated getting in trouble. I thought getting in trouble meant I was a bad kid and I wouldn’t be loved.
As I got into my teenage years, I realized that being perfect wasn’t getting me the love I wanted from other people and I started acting out. I’ve got to tell you, this didn’t get me the love I wanted at all. Quite the opposite, but at least I was getting noticed now. I was being seen and heard, but still not understood or shown the love I so desperately wanted.
In my teens and 20s, I started looking for love and attention from guys. I was getting their attention, but still no love. As you can imagine, this was not my finest time of my life. After years and years of trying to get love from other people, I was starting to get really worn down. Drinking, partying, and dating all the wrong guys became my way to try to find the love I was missing.
The problem is, the drinking just made things worse. Alcohol just made me compare myself to other women even more and if I didn’t get the attention or the guy I wanted, I would completely fly off the handle. This just made my self-confidence and self-esteem even worse.
The thing I didn’t realize was what I really wanted and needed was to love myself.But into my 30s I went down the same path. Relationships with men who were unavailable to give me love.
And then social media came on the scene. Oh great! I could now connect with all the people from my past who didn’t give me love back then to see if they would give me love now. I could scroll through and see how great their lives are and compare my life to theirs. I could post things and see how many people liked it so I can feel loved and important.
Then I would find myself looking on my computer or phone multiple times a day to check on social media if my post got liked and by how many people and which people. And the scrolling was endless. It became an addiction to see what other people were doing. I barely had time to live my own life because I couldn’t stop watching other people’s lives on social media. But that was okay because my life sucked anyway for the most part. I definitely spent more time scrolling than posting because I just loved to compare myself to other people so I could make myself feel terrible.
Two things were happening here. I was still trying to find love outside of myself and I was hiding from my own life and pain by wrapping myself up in other people’s lives through social media.
After a while I got tired of posting things and not getting enough likes to make me happy. And I realized that if I hadn’t kept in contact with these people before social media existed, I probably didn’t care that much about being in contact with them anyway. If I truly cared about the relationship, I would have been connecting with them all along.
I decided to stay off of social media and break my social media addiction. I quit posting and I quit scrolling. I didn’t delete my accounts though. At this time I still didn’t realize I had been looking for love on social media this whole time. I just knew it wasn’t making me feel good.
The first few days were difficult because I wasn’t getting social media love anymore. I wasn’t working on loving myself either because I hadn’t yet realized that’s what I needed.
It actually was freeing to not check Facebook and Instagram every two seconds and I started to realize that I didn’t need to know what people were up to all the time. I also didn’t need to post things to show how “great” my life was and get likes.
Only in the last few months did I finally understand why I was obsessed with social media. I’ve been spending a lot of time self-reflecting and understanding my feelings. I was hiding my pain from my own life by immersing myself in other people’s lives online. I didn’t have the relationship I wanted and I was bored with my job. Not to mention I didn’t even have a good relationship with myself.
When I started to feel a feeling that was uncomfortable for me, I would reach for my phone to scroll social media to make me feel better. So it’s not really that I was obsessed with social media. It’s that I was addicted to avoiding my own feelings that I wanted to keep stuffing down.
I know now that it’s okay to feel the pain and feelings of my own life. If I have a painful feeling, I allow myself a few minutes to sit quietly and feel it. Whatever comes up is perfectly fine to feel and if I need to cry it out, I’m allowed to do that and it will actually allow me to release it.
I’ve also realized how so many small things from my past come up and make me feel unworthy and unloved. I’ve had to keep working through these things, crying and releasing. It’s a constant work in progress, but working through all of these feelings will allow you to start loving yourself and realize that you don’t need for anyone outside of you to love you and you don’t have to scroll social media to make yourself feel better.
How to stop being obsessed with social media
I challenge you to stay off of social media for 2 weeks and see how your life will change. Every time you feel the need to pick up your phone and scroll social media, take a minute to think about why you feel like you need to do that. Is there something bothering you? Is there an emotion you’re trying to stuff down? Do you think if you don’t post that people will forget about you?
Take a few minutes to close your eyes and sit with that feeling. Allow yourself to feel whatever comes up. Now tell yourself that it’s okay to feel that. Anyone who was in that situation would feel that way. Talk to yourself as if you are talking to a little child that you love who is having that feeling. If you need to cry or tear up, let it happen. When you feel it’s completed, open your eyes. You should feel a weight off your shoulders and a sense of relief.
If you do this simple thing, you’ll be able to start working through all the things that are holding you down in life, making you feel small, and fueling your need to get something from people outside of yourself. You won’t need to be obsessed with social media or anything else to make you feel good.