“Get Off Social Media,” Says the Surgeon General
With the U.S. Surgeon General’s warning this week that “there is growing evidence that social media use is associated with harm to young people’s mental health,” we finally have official sanction to limit our children’s Instagram and TikTok accounts. While this warning was directed at adolescents, after spending two years researching a book on the anti-social effects of phone and social media use, it’s pretty clear to me that the Surgeon General’s warning should be heeded by adults as well.
But can we really do it?
I would argue, yes, we can. But it requires not just a simple unplugging. Rather it necessitates a rethinking about how we organize our days. Below are a few steps I’ve taken over the years that perhaps will be useful to others looking to stop the scroll.
1. Get an Alarm Clock
The moments between sleeping and waking are the times when we are most in touch with our subconscious, and thus precious for creativity. Protect those tender morning minutes. Have an alarm clock wake you up, so that first thing you are focused on something other than Instagram.
2. Engage with your dreams
Dreams are your window into what Carl Jung called “the night-sea journey,” the pathway to the inner workings of your being. Start a dream journal that you keep next to your bed. Record your dreams in words and images every morning the moment you wake before they dissipate in the morning light.
3. Choose something other than social media as a morning practice
In the ancient Sanskrit sacred text The Bhagavad Gita, the God Krishna, incarnated as a charioteer, instructs the young warrior Arjuna on how to live a fulfilling life. He tells Arjuna that the divided mind is an unhappy mind but that “[w]hen a person is devoted to something with complete faith, I unify his faith in that form.” Mastery through practice is faith. By replacing some of your device-divided time with unified time, you begin to lay down your own path. Take a month to experiment with different practices that could be sustained over time. Is it the piano you once played? The watercolors…