What’s your relationship with social media and your phone?

I was late to social media. An old high school friend convinced me to get on Facebook because “everyone was doing it”. She excitedly talked about how she reconnected with so many friends from school. Funnily, while I enjoyed high school because I was part of the theatre program, I wasn’t popular, didn’t consider myself amazing in any way, and the people that I had kept in touch with were the ones that counted as far as I was concerned.

But this coincided with me moving abroad, so Facebook seemed like a good way to not only reconnect, but stay connected with friends in a convenient way. I also decided to blog (for real this time!), and the two seemed to go hand in hand on the ‘ol keyboard.

This was back in 2009. Then again, I was late to join the CD party, the cell phone party, and the smart phone party, too. I’m the opposite of the early adopters of technology, I’m more like a straggler, but this has allowed me to hear plenty of feedback before jumping in. When my friend Ingrid got a smart phone she warned me, “Don’t do it! It’s so addicting. I find myself looking at it all the time.”

The problem though with warnings and advice is they are readily ignored until you decide to do something about it. Luckily, I don’t have an addictive personality. I’ve never been addicted to anything, but for a time, smoking cigarettes was a thing that I picked up casually here and there until I decided I had had enough. It’s very true you are influenced by who you are around!

Regardless, I have found myself inching closer and closer to a kind of addiction to my phone and social media. After all, social media is manipulated by those who hack slot machines, getting us users high on likes, comments (through sight), and notifications through phone vibrations (touch) and sounds (ping!). It’s a full-on experience that many of us now cannot live without.

What’s frightening to me though is this link to depression. I, too, have deleted posts/updates on social media that didn’t receive any likes or attention. I have scratched my head over not getting as much as attention that I felt I deserved. I’ve played the game “likes for likes” in an effort to get the system to work for me, but I also grew up before the Internet became something that we took for granted like electricity which means I enter a relationship with social media and my phone cautiously.

First, I have a hard time “liking” something that I don’t really like.  Sure, I’ve done it, but I have a feeling that kids these days don’t.  So I find it interesting that I have this “old fashioned filter” that prevents me from mindlessly liking. Although, I will say, I do feel like I have to catch up on my Instagram feed. I’ve had to tell myself to stop.

I’ve learned the hard way to not like an article unless I’ve read it. Headlines have become click bait and are often misleading.

And I quickly discovered that the best isn’t always the most popular. And that bothers me. It doesn’t seem fair. And you can “pay for views” and “likes”, and that seems even more unsatisfying. I’m certain folks would disagree, rallying under the “all’s fair in love and war”, but back in my day, kids (*shakes walking cane*), it was often the best and brightest that rose to the top through hard work, talent, and luck.

So while I do enjoy and believe in the democratic playing field of the Internet, unscrupulous tweaks and measures are being used by both the social media aps, the government, and the user to create a false sense of “most popular” therefore “most wonderful”.

I suppose it comes down to two things: I don’t like the idea of being manipulated, and I don’t like being addicted to anything.

I think there was a brief period when I looked at my phone (probably when it was new) first thing in the morning, but this didn’t last long because mornings are sacred to me. I believe in the importance of a good morning routine so I like to use the time to write in my journal, do yoga, meditate, have coffee, and slowly wake up. I’ve almost always been good about not getting online in the morning.

My phone used to go on airplane mode in the evenings before bed and the mornings. Now, it’s on airplane mode for most of the day. Interestingly, what made me do this was friends or family would text me near bedtime. I love to read before bed, and to hear my phone vibrate or look at the notifications would piss me off because I didn’t want to deal! I want my mind relaxing and free of extraneous stress.

Otherwise, when I’m trying to sleep, I’m thinking, What does the text say? Is it important? or Why did she text me a chore I need to do? I didn’t need to see that before bed. Or whatever. I’m a light sleeper. And I don’t function well at all under 8 hours of sleep!

But I found myself looking at my phone throughout the day. Not a lot, but maybe more than I realized.  I remember the first time I was at the airport with my smart phone, and I discovered the time-consuming beauty that is social media. My wait time felt like nothing! It was awesome. I totally understand why people do it.

Then I realized that I’d have my phone next to me when I was at the computer. So much for “distraction free” writing. Ha! And why did I have the dang thing next to me when I was on the Internet anyway? Duh! I would have already checked FB or Twitter and the phone would let me know that I got a new like or message. No!

So now the phone is away from me when I’m at my desk.

Next was discovering that the reason why I like Instragram was because I was doing #365 day challenges; in other words, it gave me purpose. This made me think, “What’s my purpose for opening Twitter? FB?”

Now, going on social media is like taking out the garbage. It’s a chore.

Trust me, I have seriously considered deleting my social accounts many times. But as an expat who is trying to get her writing out there, it makes it doubly challenging to do so without the aid of social media. Could I do it? Probably. But I don’t think it has to be an all or nothing scenario for me.

// For weeks now, I have had an Internet-free day. One day a week? Yeah, I can do it.

// For my IG #365 days challenge, I don’t feel the pressure (after all, it’s my challenge to do) to post everyday.  I know that runs against the challenge, but some days, yeah, just can’t get to it, and that’s okay.

// I try to be conscientious of what I’m doing on Twitter and FB. I ask myself “What’s my purpose here today?” and I don’t go on it multiple times during the day if I can help it. At a later time, I might reconsider deleting Twitter. I get so very little out of it.

// I’ve noticed friends that barely use FB. I’d like to get to that point. In the meantime, I left a FB writers group that I was getting nothing out of, and deleted my Medium account. Again, nada. (And yes, I tried Pinterest ages ago, and got rid of that.)

// The problem with FB is that Messenger has become the main form of communication. No one emails anymore. So if I do open FB on my desktop it’s to see if I have any messages. I won’t look at my phone. I get so many junk messages from my cell/mobile phone provider that it turns me off. I suppose one day I’ll have to get a proper phone plan.

The thing though that really gets to me is seeing how many of our students are addicted to their phones and social media. I used to get mad when I saw them pull out their phones for a quick peek or check notifications or tell me it’s their mom on the phone and duck outside. But now I know, it’s not me – it’s them. They’re addicts.

Of course, I’ve experimented with taking away phones from particularly problematic students, and then I watch them dive into their English work with their full attention. I’ve talked to them and have discovered that some schools (or classes) take the students’ phones away, or whose parents don’t let them bring their phones to school.

I’ve been teaching overseas long enough to notice the difference between “before smart phones” to now. Before I’d walk into a classroom full of students engaged and talking with one another, now, they’re all silently hunched over their phones playing games or endlessly scrolling or watching a video.

I’m not saying the end is neigh because kids these days are all about their phones, but I do worry that this hypnotic device has far-reaching consequences that we might not be aware of.

What do you think? What’s your relationship with your phone and social media?


25 thoughts on “What’s your relationship with social media and your phone?

  1. Your phone is on airplane mode for most of the day?! You go gurrl. I’m an addict and I hate it. I also HATE that FB Messenger has become such an unavoidable communication platform and I HATE what smart phones seem to be doing to kids (and all people for that matter). But…but! I don’t know how to quit.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, I really do hate the “I can be reached at anytime” mode. Hahahahaha. I mainly use it as an alarm clock and camera. But then I also miss people trying to contact me so that’s not so good for spontaneous meet ups.

      Yeah, Messenger is pretty much how we all communicate these days. I check it on my desktop since I like typing on a keyboard more than the phone.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love this post, Lani, and can relate to almost everything you mention. Like you, i have a bit of a love/hate relationship with social media. I also use Messenger as a main form of contact with family and friends, and I love how, as an expat, Facebook allows me to stay in touch with friends and family I, otherwise, would have lost contact with long ago. I love it when people share snippets of their lives, yet hate my timeline being cluttered with what I consider junk. And as a result, I never scroll for very long. It is mostly to engage, especially since we have created a Facebook page for our A Taste of Freedom blog.

    I only got a Smartphone in April, and only because my sister insisted on me taking over her old one to join the modern world, as she puts it. I hate the thing. So, apart from the convenience it offers, when I travel, to stay in touch with my husband via Messenger, or the odd Facebook post, I use it as a phone, and nothing else. All notification sounds are turned off, and it quietly sleeps somewhere in a corner, and only bothers me, when I get an actual phone call.

    I use my computer for staying engaged, as I prefer the ease of typing responses fast. When I am not on it, I am completely disengaged from the outside world, and can concentrate on the actual physical world I live in. A Friday for me is a technology free day, and I often try to carry that through the whole weekend (Friday and Saturday in this part of the world).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, we do have a lot in common. No surprise 😛

      I think there will come a day, if it hasn’t already arrived, where parents will have enforce rules regarding phone use. First, it was the internet with ideas of “parent filters” and with work “big brother is watching”, but now, I feel the problem has gotten way out of control.

      I think social media designers are starting to realize that what they implement has wide reaching consequences and they have a responsibility to do something about it, if not cover their ass-ets because the results of too much phone time is in – and it’s not good.

      Glad you liked the post Jolandi!


      1. So true. And, sadly, only time will tell how far-reaching the negative impact will be. I love your writing, Lani, even when I don’t always comment.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. This is an important post. I’ve watched the Simon Sinek video several times, and it always leaves me with many thoughts to consider. I like to leave my phone at home when I go to work and uni, and Social Media tends to be something I use to keep in touch with family and friends, or for when I want to share a photo. However, I definitely think it’s important that everything is taken in moderation and to enjoy being in the present moment without our phones 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think the videos bring up good points, in which, creativity and relationships are formed in the “bored” or “in between” times of life – and that’s huge!

      And I agree, moderation is best because we don’t want to feel deprived. Hello, diet fails!

      Thanks Katie 🙂


  4. I loved reading your post, Lani! I wish we had more bloggers talking about social media addiction. The game of likes is a crazy one. 🙂 Trying to secure likes is the fastest way to becoming a social media star. In local cafes, everyone has a phone and is either clicking selfies of themselves or their food. Conversations are slowly dying to chats online. 😦
    I resisted a smartphone till we moved abroad and needed to keep in touch with my family. I was on-and-off FB for a while and finally deleted my account. I couldn’t live up to expectations. I’ve reduced my blog posts and while that has reduced traffic, I can write what I really want to write. It’s a catch-22 situation for a blogger because success is monitored by likes, comments, and traffic.
    Travelling to places without internet is a solution for de-addiction. I enjoyed our days in Mongolia without internet or having to check my phone. It was liberating!
    Thanks for this timely post! And keep writing. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, internet free places are golden, but only if you want it. Hahahaha. When the electricity goes out, it’s hard to appreciate being internet free, but I try for as much as I can stand it. I suppose it’s not just the internet in those cases 😛

      You bring up a very important point for bloggers. It’s almost impossible to not have social media and receive any attention. I mean, if you are already popular then, of course, and there will always be exceptions, but yeah, it’s super challenging.

      I find myself embarrassed to share on FB where I would get the most attention. It feels too spammy for my friends. So I pick and chose which posts to put up. Because if I’m honest, I don’t use FB for regular updates.

      Good for you – deleting FB! And Mongolia – yeah, must have been AUH-mazing!

      Thank youuuu. xo

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This past month I’ve spent lots of time around my grandchildren. The 10-year-old doesn’t have a phone. He loves playing computer games, but he’s only allowed to play on weekends. The 21-year-old is a computer major and just got a job offer from Microsoft, but he’s never been interested in social media. He almost never uses his cell phone, isn’t on Facebook, Instagram or anything else. My granddaughter’s 24-year-old boyfriend is constantly googling things to add the correct details to our conversations. It’s amazing how different they all are. The only one who’s in danger of getting addicted is the youngest. That’s why his parents keep a close eye on him.

    I enjoy Facebook. I think it depends on who your friends are and whether they post interesting things. I don’t have time for any of the rest.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow, as 2summers said, you have airplane mode on your phone for most of the day. Props to that. To be honest, the only thing I like about social media these days is Messenger – I can do away with Facebook’s feedback but Messenger is probably the medium that allows me to keep in touch with great friends all over the world. I don’t have the Facebook app on my phone, and am in the process of deleting most of the stuff I’ve posted on there. Don’t use WhatsApp either (and everyone is amazed I don’t use that lol). I do like Instagram, though. Following selective accounts on IG, I find it a source of inspiration for photography and being creative.

    Blogging is every part of social media too, and one that I used to spend a lot of time on but these days less and less because, hey, prioritise in real life. The less I spend on social media, the more I’m happier with life, setting my own expectations and living to my own standards. Less time on social media, more time I can spend on Google and searching, reading and researching and see what next crazy idea I can come up with 😛

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Blogging is or isn’t social media is an interesting question. From my point of view, it doesn’t feel like it, but I can see the arguments as to why it would be considered. But if it is, for arguement’s sake then I definitely don’t spend as much time on it as I used to. Writing takes the front seat these days, and honestly, with people coming and going, even after years of building relationships, I’m weary to invest too much of my time on it. I figure time will tell who sticks around and who doesn’t and that’s okay either way. That’s life.

      Yeah, for IG I’ve decided to get rid of those travel bloggers whose lives are portrayed as so much more amazing than everyone else’s. I’m trying to connect with real people who are making an effort which I think the hashtag grateful does. It is more personal and I like it too.

      Yeah, airplane mode. LOVE it. Hahahaha.


      1. I also have debated whether blogging is social media or not. Definitely leaning more towards the non-social media side as blogging can be serious business business for a living or sharing your craft – social to a niche.

        I do need to cull my IG feed…it gets overwhelming following so many XD

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Good points. It’s weird though, living in this time of social media. I wonder what the future is going to say about it. 😛

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I could write pages on this topic lol. I’m one of those people who only checks FB once a month (sometimes less). I do have the Messenger app on my phone though – I like how FB makes it a separate app – and I check that more often. That was the only part of FB I felt I needed (like you said, most people message there instead of texting).

    The Moment app has been super helpful to keeping from getting too addicted to my phone though. It’s sobering to see how much time I spend on what app and how many times I’ve picked my phone up through the day. And like you, I also have one offline day a week and though it’s hard, it’s worked wonders at being clear in my own headspace.

    I’m still not too great at using social media for what I write – I hate it so much I can’t be bothered – but hopefully I’ll find a happy medium when I start posting again later this month.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! I’d love to see you writing again. But I suppose you are super busy. So actually for you to be careful with social and travel as much as you do, well, that’s something to be proud of.

      I like my apps and phone for travel. It’s SO convenient. Although I’m not a “Google Maps when traveling person”. I’ll look at a map before I head out and then I’ll have the adventure and ask questions. I don’t pull up maps again. I don’t know why. I guess it’s leftover habits from my generation.

      The Moment sounds intriguing. I might give that a go. But for now, I’m pretty happy with where I’m at – I’d use my phone even less if I wasn’t using Memrise to learn languages or if I wasn’t on IG doing everyday challenges.

      Thanks for stopping by Daisy! xo


  8. I’d never thought about the links between gambling and use of technology…how entirely fascinating to contemplate the manipulations of the human response from both vantage points! I too have never completely fallen under the spell of social media, though when I first started it was difficult not to be seduced by the superficiality of it. I ask myself the same question as you, “What is the purpose of this for me? What do I want to get out of it?” I’ve always believed that technology is a tool and, like any tool, each of us has control over how we use it to best fit our individual lives.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes. I think it’s natural to get seduced (as you cleverly put it) with something new, and esp social media. Sometimes I’m on it longer than I realized and I suddenly realized I’ve been hunched over or that the time has flown by. It’s a little frightening in that regard. I think it’s good with any habit to pull yourself out of it and do a quick check to see if this is working for you.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I don’t have an iPhone yet. My partner did get when initially he was asked by a hiring firm that he get one. So he got one. But he’s very sparse on use. He does use it to communicate with son on business related matters, and son is located several thousand km. away. My partner does the online accounting for son’s biz. So truly it is business.

    The iPhone was abit handy when we were in Japan. I believe there is an app that will translate Japanes sign to English. But we never downloaded it.

    I don’t use facebook nor twitter to promote my personal blog. I’m just happy some readers drop by. That’s all. It’s not a good idea for me to get hooked to iPhone…medical studies show that prolonged, constant use keeps the brain awake because of the blue light from computer screens. I know since I had a concussion and for healing I had to minimize exposure to computer and tv screens. So if you’re wondering about your school kids not sleeping well.

    Children and adults have to learn to be fully engaged in person and not on iPhone. Child psychologists warn heavy use because children have learn interactive in person social skills. They have to respond with people in person and participate in real conversation. Also learn boredom…of doing nothing, but listening.

    I wrote this awhile ago. The TED video is still highly relevant. https://cyclewriteblog.wordpress.com/2015/11/05/social-media-humanizing-or-lack-of-deep-relationship-accountability/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve often felt we were more technologically advanced than socially or psychologically. I suppose then we are seeing the repercussions of not focusing on that kind of development.

      Simon Sinek years ago predicted the sweeping depression and suicide rates due to our addiction to our phones and social media, and I found that terrifying.

      I went back to your post and listened to the TED talk. I don’t think I had heard that one and I’ve heard a decent amount. It’s a good one. And she’s reiterating my fears with my students, with today’s youth; it’s really shocking how much they cling to their phones. It’s all they do these days.


  10. Lately, too much phone time. I’m trying to get myself out there, as you read in my post, but that means having ALL these things to check up on. It is definitely overwhelming at times. I’m a, keep up with business, kind of person, so I like everything checked & cleared away. But then I get sucked in and end up distracted on it. I am trying to put it away when it’s time to focus on other things and felt today was much better than the first five, now being on FB. I do really like Instagram and my Twitter account’s alerts are turned off. You really do have great willpower and routine with your phone, Lani. I’m impressed!!


  11. Omg. Airplane mode all day??? That sounds like heaven. I would kill for that–it’s jut not possible with my job and my long-distance marriage 😦 Although I do think putting it in airplane mode before bed is pure genius. And keeping your phone away from laptop while writing is also another golden piece of advice.

    When I started my new job I was excited that they bought me a brand new iphone for work, and was even more elated to hear that they use Google suite as their email platform. Fast forward a few months later, and I realize the work phone is just another way for the company to contact me whenever and wherever they want. We may be addicted to social media when we’re younger, but now when we get older and get a job, companies are able to keep us connected 24/7 through mobile devices. It’s frightening.

    I feel like an old person, too. I think cause us ‘millennials’ grew up with some no-internet years, we know what it’s like *not* being connected all the time and can value the idea of ‘disconnecting.’ I worry that young kids and the next generation won’t be able to wrap their head around this concept, since they’ll grow up with social media on 24/7.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. UGH. Work, work, work, work. I couldn’t do it. I’m too private and easily annoyed like a cat. 😀

      But smart phones are golden when traveling. I have Air Asia and Agoda on my phone just for that reason. Heck, when moving, they’re great, too. But yeah, it’s a tool and I’d rather be reading…Hahahaha.

      Thanks Mary for stopping by and leaving such lovely comments!


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