If you're not on social media, you're behind the times. You send cards at the (gasp) post office. You use a fax machine. You live in a cabin in the woods and talk to birds all day. Social media is more than just the Internet. It's the chance for our opinions to be heard, and for our selfies to make the world a better place. Seriously, though, if you're spending day and night glassy-eyed scrolling through your feeds, you're not spending time talking with your family and friends. You're not breathing fresh oxygen. But how do you know when your social media hobby is actually an addiction? Here are 11 signs you, your friends, or your high school psychology teacher need an intervention.
1. You keep your phone by your nightstand.
I am a huge proponent of getting a good night's sleep. And let me tell you, it's nearly impossible when your phone is buzzing and zoinking all night long. A lot of people like to have their phones next to them because they set an alarm, and need it within swatting distance. But unless you put that thing on "do not disturb" mode, you'll be tempted to check in on it at all hours of the night when you should be unconscious. Plus, the blue lights of your phone mess up your sleep.
2. The first thing you see when you wake up is a screen.
Back in the olden days, the first thing people used to see when they woke up was maybe the moon shining on the cornfields, or even the underside of a friendly caterpillar climbing up the window. But no, today it's just: "1,003 NOTIFICATIONS FROM PRINCESS KITTY." If you have a real friend named "Princess Kitty," we recommend you (and she) seek help, but otherwise, keep that phone off. Kick it under your bed. Bury it in the garbage. Look out at the dew glistening on the treetops instead.
3. You use your phone while in motion.
If you are a living, breathing, literate person, you know not to text while drive. But that also means, don't text while walking, Snapchat while ballooning, or Tweet while water skiing. Using your phone while in motion means you should be paying attention to something else other than the stationary item that is your phone.
4. Your phone is on the table when you eat.
Eating (like sleeping) is one of the most sacred acts of the day. It should not be a time where you are littering your phone with kale chip crumbs. Plus, it's totally rude to all of your breathing, human tablemates if you are deeply absorbed in Instagram kale chips instead of fully enjoying your own. The table has no room for your phone.
5. You have posted while in mid-conversation with a real, live human.
How many times has this happened to you? You're having a lovely conversation with someone by the elevator bank and then their phone bloops and they start texting or posting away while still talking to you and not excusing themselves. Only now, their responses are delayed, their facial cues are off-putting, and they have no idea what you're talking about anymore. News Flash: to anyone who thinks they can multitask, the answer is no. Just don't do it.
6. The first thing you think about when going out is how cute the pictures are going to be.
It happens all the time. You're so focused on the event you've supposedly looked forward to for the past three months, that when it comes time for it, all you care about are the pictures. If you're this kind of social media addict, you'll likely have 100+ photos of the same group selfie (or groupie?), and not remember 5 distinct moments from the actual event. Here's how to combat this. When you get to an event, limit yourself to less than 10 pictures to be taken in the first half-hour. After that, put your phone away and have fun!
7. You've written posts on social media that are over 1 paragraph long.
We all get carried away sometimes when there's something that angers us or something that excites us. But remember, folks, social media is not your journal. It is not your blog. It is not a transcript of your psychotherapy session. If you feel the need to write over 1 paragraph explaining your "incredible transformation from a carnivore to a vegan," you might want to consider starting your own blog. Also, remember, everything you say online is forever.
8. You feel happier when you get a Like or Follower than when you get a real-life compliment.
It's true, getting positive comments and likes gives you a little boost of serotonin. But if you spend your whole life waiting for little red numbers to give you validation, you're missing the point entirely. The more self-confidence you have, the less likely you'll have to rely on social media for that boost. Try exercises such as a gratitude journal and giving out real compliments to make you feel better on the inside first.
9. You spend more than 5 minutes editing a photo before posting.
With the advent of filters and easy photo editing on every smartphone, it's now quicker than ever to get rid of your red-eye, and drop 10 to 15 pounds. But filters aren't real. They're just making you look artsier and blurring out that creepy guy who photobombed your selfie. Your image to the world should be yourself, however messy and complicated it looks.
10. You get all of your news from social media.
Don't believe everything you read. As demonstrated by recent real news, social media outlets are not exactly the most accurate news sources. Just because your trusted best friend claims things on social media, there aren't any fact checkers. Take everything you read with a grain (or a bucket-full) of salt, and make sure you confirm your friends' theories with other trusted sources, like SNL.
11. You've stalked old friends for more than an hour on a Saturday night.
Whether you like to go out or not, Saturday night is not about staring face to face with a photo of your 13-year-old crush at his bar mitzvah. Mazel Tov. Now, move on.