A Quick Note: This post was originally written back in 2014 on one of my old writing websites, A Writer’s Struggle. It was written at a time where I was struggling to find who I was and what I was doing in my life. Okay, so things aren’t so different now, but I have updated it where I felt it needed it! You’ll see these updates in [brackets]. Everything not in brackets is part of the original post.

I was addicted to Facebook.  As a matter of fact, I was so addicted at one point, I spent at least 15 minutes of every waking hour either playing a Facebook game (CastleVille mainly), chatting or just going over posts.  That was a luxury I could take while I was finishing up my bachelor’s degree and already online the majority of the day, but it still left me very little time to write or do anything else.  It wasn’t until I distanced myself from Facebook that I realized exactly what it was doing to me.

Even if you don’t feel addicted to social networking, read on.  You might discover that these tips can even help you become more productive throughout the day! [And trust me when I say this is not only as true today as it was when I wrote it, but maybe more so.

During my addiction, and I truly believe it was just that [A lot has changed in that regard since I wrote this, as it is now recognized as such], I couldn’t go more than a half hour even while out with friends or family without checking my Facebook.  I hated it when other people did that, but yet I couldn’t stop myself!  I’d get notifications every 5-10 minutes, such as replies to my posts or posts I’ve posted in, new posts from my close friends/family, etc.  How could I NOT be addicted?  The truth is, social networks are set up to pull you in and keep you there, especially if you’re using them from a smartphone that you carry with you at all times.

I’d get notifications every 5-10 minutes, such as replies to my posts or posts I’ve posted in, new posts from my close friends/family, etc.  How could I NOT be addicted?  The truth is, social networks are set up to pull you in and keep you there, especially if you’re using them from a smartphone that you carry with you at all times.

The truth is, social networks are set up to pull you in and keep you there, especially if you’re using them from a smartphone that you carry with you at all times [Which, let’s face it, pretty much everyone from 8 to 80 has one nowadays].

That’s when I realized Facebook was controlling me, not the other way around.  When a new notification came in, it was like Facebook was whispering into my ear “hey, you got some new content.  You know it’s more important than driving safely!  Just a quick peek is good, it won’t take long.” (I do not condone Facebooking and driving in any way, please don’t do it! [*sigh* I still do this sometimes even though it’s now illegal, and I still hate myself for it])  It was when that voice was so ingrained into my mind, into my daily activities, and I’d check my Facebook even when there was no new notification, did I realize that it was affecting my quality of life.

It was dictating how I spent a good chunk of my time and it took away from the world around me [In fact, I can remember times before this post when I would actually stay up, refreshing my Facebook feed, in hopes that someone will post something new that I can read and comment on].

I decided enough was enough, I had to stop cold. Not Facebook altogether, just the constant notifications and checking to see if maybe there is a new post on my wall.  It wasn’t easy, I will tell you that, but I did feel an instant release when I disabled all notifications.  I no longer thought about it when my mind was elsewhere, I was able to get more done in any given hour, and most of all I didn’t have my phone in my hand or in front of my face during conversations at dinner or sitting around drinking a beer with friends.  It felt nice!  For the first time in years, I didn’t feel obligated to know exactly what was happening on Facebook at all times.

It wasn’t easy, I will tell you that, but I did feel an instant release when I disabled all notifications.  I no longer thought about it when my mind was elsewhere, I was able to get more done in any given hour, and most of all I didn’t have my phone in my hand or in front of my face during conversations at dinner or sitting around drinking a beer with friends.  It felt nice!  For the first time in years, I didn’t feel obligated to know exactly what was happening on Facebook at all times.

I no longer thought about it when my mind was elsewhere. I was able to get more done in any given hour, and most of all I didn’t have my phone in my hand or in front of my face during conversations at dinner or sitting around drinking a beer with friends.  It felt nice!  For the first time in years, I didn’t feel obligated to know exactly what was happening on Facebook at all times.

It felt nice!  For the first time in years, I didn’t feel obligated to know exactly what was happening on Facebook at all times.

For the first time in years, I didn’t feel obligated to know exactly what was happening on Facebook at all times.

Of course, this can be applied to any social network, not just Facebook.  At the time I had this addiction, I wasn’t active on any other major social network, so I wasn’t too worried about them taking over, but I disabled the notifications on most of them, also.  The only exception was Twitter and only because the notifications were far and few.  Once I did start to try and build my Twitter following, I left all my notifications on so that I knew what was happening, but even that became too much when I was getting retweeted, favorited, added, and replied to all day, so I’ve since even turned most of those off.

Now you might be saying “But Jeremy, you’re a writer.  Social Networking is important and something you have to stay on top of!” and you’d be absolutely right.  I still get notifications for my Facebook author page and Tweets that are @ me, but that is it [This is still true today. My Facebook notifications are completely disabled, Twitter only alerts me when someone @’s me or ReTweets me, and Instagram only alters me on new comments and followers. See the end of this post for more on what this means to me now.].  More than that, I now have control over when I look at the notifications and have come to a point where I can ignore a message or tweet for as long as I need

More than that, I now have control over when I look at the notifications and have come to a point where I can ignore a message or tweet for as long as I need to until I have some downtime.  I spend 1 hour in the mornings on Twitter and then usually 30 minutes to 1 hour at night, after I get home from work.  This has been working out great because I’m still part of whatever is going on out there, but not so much that I’m letting it control me.  I still do check the occasional tweet at work, or go on Facebook, but that’s usually when I have a few minutes free (which is rare) [This is still mostly true, though I find myself avoiding social media even more. The plan is to spend 1 hour in the morning and 1 hour in the evening, though that tends to only happen a few times a week, not every day].

My quality of my life has increased more than I could ever explain to you in this post and I highly recommend you try it out for yourself.  Turn off your notifications on whichever social network plagues you (or all of them!) and see how you feel.  After the first few days, you’ll notice a difference, but after a few weeks, you’ll feel free.  The bonds of notifications and constant checking of your wall will be released and you can walk out of the Facebook dungeons in Menlo Park with a renewed vigor and outlook on life.

[Update: nowadays I still have Facebook (in fact I have 2 accounts, 3 pages I manage, and a group of almost 4000 writers/editors/etc.), Two Instagrams (one personal one and one for The Authorpreneur Podcast), and my Twitter, but I have notifications set in a way that doesn’t bother me. Well, actually, I think going through this process is why they don’t bother me. I can see I have a new tweet or mention and ignore it until I have time. I avoid social media during the day unless I’m home and doing it for my company.]

What do you think? Are you suffering from Social Media Addiction, or do you have it under control? Let me know below in the comments your experience!

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