My 2015 New Year’s Resolutions were… unsuccessful.

A year ago, I wrote about my ‘resolution’ for 2015: to use social media more mindfully. Less, yes, but specifically more deliberately – not in the absent-minded, scattered, trying-to-fill-a-hole-in-time kind of way. Refreshing Facebook in the hope that some interesting article will appear, to occupy my brain momentarily and make me feel like I’ve spent that time in a worthwhile manner.

For the first part of the year, I did alright. I had rules for myself around when I could check in with social media during the day. It was kind of liberating, and useful when I started studying again and needed to focus. Then it started to sneak back in dribs and drabs, until suddenly I’m grazing on social media while lying in bed again. The blurring of lines also came about, I think, due to the connections and friendships I developed with people online – some of whom I have subsequently met in ‘real life’, and some I haven’t. Although I’d like to break the social media addiction, I’m not willing to give up those positive relationships.

I have gotten a lot better at avoiding my phone during social situations – particularly using it as a way to quash social anxiety (read: scrolling through Facebook during those times when I don’t know anyone in a room). Earlier in the year (no doubt while scrolling compulsively through Facebook during such a social event) I came across a series of photos documenting the ‘death of conversation’. I found it disturbing. And recognisable. Recently while at a shopping centre, I took note of how many people were looking at their smartphones while walking or standing around. It’s amazing we all don’t just run into each other!

I also had a wake-up call when I stumbled across a setting in my iPhone that let me know how much time I spend on particular apps, including Facebook and Instagram. Have you seen it? It’s under ‘Settings’, and then ‘Battery’ – it pops up under ‘Battery Usage’. Click the little clock icon on the right, and it gives you the number of hours spent on each app, for the last 24 hours, or 7 days (visit this link if my instructions don’t make sense). I was completely embarrassed. So much so that I’m not going to state the numbers here! Thankfully I don’t play iPhone games as well… Then I really wouldn’t have time to watch Netflix…

This recent blog post by Sarah Wilson was the clincher. Although Sarah is writing about mindful love and relationships, the point is still the same: the obsessive app-toggling, the email-checking, the pinning of hopes and expectations on other people, stems from the sense of missing something – a connection to our real selves. The distractions take us away from turning inward. Perhaps because turning inward can be a frightening notion.

So, what does this mean for my resolutions in 2016? More of the same I guess. Setting myself tangible rules about social media. No checking it in bed, in the morning or at night. My husband can keep me accountable to that one (and has been! Every night when I go to set my alarm clock on my phone he’s like ‘WHAT are you doing!?’). Allowing myself dedicated times to use it mindfully and with purpose, but not to just fill the gaps.

It also means allowing myself empty space – not feeling as though I’m obligated to fill up every minute with something, whether it’s productive (studying, recipe-testing, blogging) or unproductive (watching Netflix). To just be able to sit without distractions, and let that be the achievement. Maybe, I will go do that right now.


    • Erin says:

      Thanks Rani 🙂 Gosh, 2017. The time goes so quickly these days I feel like the year is practically over already!! That’s not very mindful of me, is it? :-/

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