On learning to change…

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I’d probably never use the word “addict” to describe myself. Even at my worst (which was when I was in my early-20s), when I was engaging in seriously questionable behavior and activities, I never would have said I was an addict. I say this because while I have a very malleable personality, when I’m doing doing something, I’m just done. There’s no weaning process. I just quit doing the thing.

But I am definitely addicted to my phone. It’s literally the first thing I look at every morning. I’m not even that important a person! It’s not like I have some high-powered corporate job where universes may have imploded overnight so I must immediately jump to action. No. I’m a stay-at-home-mom and a writer. If something implodes in my world, I’ve either done it myself or I’ve been watching it coming for some time.

I find myself checking my phone for new texts or Facebook updates or emails without even thinking about it. I’ll be looking at my phone, set it down, and pick it up three second later thinking, “Um, didn’t I just do this?” It’s embarassing. I’ll admit it.

And because I’m so easily persuaded (please don’t even dare me to a drinking game. I will take you on and I will win, but it will be at great personal loss…to my digestive tract), I read things on the interwebs and get emotionally invested in them. Sometimes that’s fine; most times it’s not.

So when, after the most recent election, I opted to take a hiatus from Facebook, I felt remarkably good. I wasn’t getting worked up about seriously stupid things. I didn’t feel the need to rant. I wasn’t compelled to lay waste to certain (very ridiculous and obviously  hyperbolic, but somehow still believed by the masses) false claims. I disengaged and I suddenly felt happier.

It was kind of like how I’ve felt when I’ve spent a week eating nothing but Taco Bell and Totino’s party pizzas and then I eat a damn vegetable for the first time and all of a sudden, I don’t feel like I’m tetering on the edge of my own demise. I want to get out and do things. I want to be active. I want to have real conversations with people I really care about. I want to get out of bed and do something more than watch 30Rock for the fifty-seventh time this year.

But then I go back and I end up pulling that oh-so-obviously-an-addict stunt. “Just one little hit.” And oh god, it feels so good. That burn, the fire in my gut, the tension in my neck. I know that ultimately it’s not going to be good for me, but dammit, I’m going to say my piece!

And the cycle starts all over again.

After this election cycle, I’m really starting to re-think how I engage on social media, if at all. Even in just the last three days, I’m finding it so much more productive to have real, geniune conversations with people that, while we may disagree on certain issues, I care about. It’s about being willing to educate (rather than yell) and be educated (rather than roll my eyes and snark).

So I’m hopeful that I can stay away from my phone (and specifically from Facebook) for a little longer this time. I’m hopeful that I’ll spend all this free time researching and developing my own thoughts while engaging with others. And I’m really hopeful that I won’t feel the draw back to whatever it was that made my feel so good a week ago.

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