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Suffering From Social Media Overload? Simple Ways to Go on a Digital Diet

Fight feedback loop fatigue and get back to being productive with these simple tips.

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BY Bonnie Burton - 10 Aug 2018


Suffering From Social Media Overload? Simple Ways to Go on a Digital DietPHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Constantly checking Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and Tumblr over and over again throughout the day can feel like a never-ending cycle of social media dependency.

And FOMO--"fear of missing out"--is real! The idea of weening yourself off checking your smartphone and laptop can seem like an impossible task.

But embarking on a digital diet may be the only way to improve your unhealthy relationship with the Internet, re-engage with your work, and lead a happier, less stressful lifestyle.

In his new book Breaking the Feedback Loop: How I Liberated Myself from Internet Addiction and How You Can Too, author A.N. Turner addresses how the temptation to continually log on to social media to see what friends, family, strangers and celebrities are up to every waking moment can negatively distract people from getting much done offline.

"Because of how accessible all these distractions are, you have to find meaning in the real world," Turner says. "Otherwise it's just too hard to resist them, and you'll get sucked into an unfulfilling life of constant multitasking. Not much work gets done, and the work that does get done will not be done in an efficient way."

When you're sucked into a feedback loop--a pattern of consuming online media--you may initially be entertained by photos and videos posted by friends and celebs, but sooner or later it's easy to start to feel boring and unworthy by comparison.

"When using Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat, you are exposed to the news feed homepage, which gives you a rush from quickly consuming new, concentrated social information from people in your community," Turner explains. "But underneath that rush are slightly delayed feelings of insecurity and inferiority from rapid peer comparison. You are comparing yourself alone with others' most romanticized, glorified versions of their lives."

"We want to upload our own glorified, romanticized content for validation, and closely monitor that content for likes and hearts," Turner adds. "As you can tell, this gets worse and worse."

In fact, a long term study recently conducted by Harvard researchers discovered that the more use of social media, led to worse life satisfaction.

"Bad digital habits impede our goals and potential," Turner says.

So how do you stop being a social media approval junkie?

Check your social media notifications less frequently to start. Put your phone away--or in airplane mode--during work hours, in social settings, and before bed. Keep all unnecessary phone contact and email checking to a minimum.

Turner also suggests slimming down your follow list to friends you actually care about in real life. In other words, only follow the same people you would talk to if you spotted them on the street. This will go far in preventing you from obsessing over celebrities and mere acquaintances. Keeping your friend follow list small also reduces the amount of new content you see in your news feed.

"Living lifestyles of constant distraction and multitasking to match the artificially heightened need for excitement isn't a recipe for success," Turner warns.

It's up to you to find meaning in the real world, without being dependent on digital dopamine.

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