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One day at a time: A social networking addict's tale of recovery (without status updates)

Austin Photo Set: News_Megan Runser_social media addict_Oct 2011

Hi, my name is Megan, and I’m a social networking addict.

Do you remember what life was like before pokes, tweets, uploads and (un)tagging dominated our daily existence?

It was a lot harder for me to imagine than I thought it would be.

I can recall, years ago, scoffing at friends who refused to join the myriad social networking sites and thinking they were so two-thousand-and-late. I mean, who could possibly be that out of touch with technology that they would deny sharing every waking moment with the world?
 
I recently experienced a pretty dramatic shift in perspective when I realized how entwined I had become in this web of social networking addiction. My sense of validation seemed to be dictated by a tiny blue thumbs-up icon rather than by human interaction.
 
 Thankfully, shakes and other withdrawal symptoms did not surface, but I slowly realized I could indeed survive without constantly mining for updates from my friends.
 
I found that asking my co-workers about their weekends on Monday mornings at the office proved to be completely unnecessary, as I had been alerted to every place they stepped foot into, each person they were with, each photo upload and every song they listened to on Spotify since the 5 p.m. closing bell rang on Friday afternoon. 
 
I suddenly became acutely aware of my emotional reaction to logging on and seeing that buddies checked into a bar without inviting me, noting that a boy I was semi-interested in commented on his ex-girlfriend’s status, or noticing my girlfriends exchange posts on each others’ walls without reciprocating on mine. Granted, I’m an admittedly oversensitive person by fault, but I couldn’t help but notice that I felt rejected by any exclusion I subconciously observed while trolling these sites.
 
And where did this need for my self-promotion come from? Why was I feeling the need to constantly make news(feed) stories out of minutia? Checking in to the gym in the wee hours of the morning, promptly uploading pics from a night out and commenting on Matt Lauer’s witty banter on The Today Show all seemed important enough that I needed to share with my list of 1,100 friends and followers.
 
Why did I think these people were interested in knowing every waking thought entering my brain? And on the flip side, why did I need to know about theirs?

This was crazy — I’m a successful, smart, logical adult. Where was this social pressure coming from? I needed to snap out of it and inhale some fresh air from the reality I knew before social networking monopolized my time. I dreamt of a morning where I could roll out of bed without immediately grasping for my phone to check status updates.    

At first, it seemed impossible to distance myself from this world. I prayed Charlie Sheen would continue his rare streak of good behavior and open a rehab clinic for everyone from alcoholics to people filled with tigers blood and Adonis DNA on down to us social networking addicts. Or that the upcoming season of Celebrity Rehab would expand its casting call to plebeians like me suffering from an addiction unrelated to narcotics or Vicodin.

Thankfully shakes and other withdrawal symptoms did not surface, but I slowly realized I could indeed survive without constantly mining for updates from my friends. I deleted the apps from my phone and significantly decreased the time spent poring over the sites.  

Almost immediately, I felt huge waves of relief. The feelings of rejection I previously experienced vanished. I even found myself picking up the phone to talk to my friends' voices and hear updates on their lives sans photo tags, likes or #hashtags.  

I must say, life as a recovering social networking addict isn't easy. Firing up my shiny Macbook immediately triggers an instinct to type in a URL that just might take me back down a path of destruction. And trust me, it takes everything in my power to refrain from grabbing my phone immediately upon arriving at a destination to check in.
 
But as they say, take it one day at a time.  

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