Blogger's Curse Social Media Addiction

Last week I wrote a parody playing on the concept of an addiction. I wrote it with the intention of making it humorous. Skip forward only a couple of days and I’ve had a bit of a wake-up call, which makes it less funny…

Let me start off by saying I have an addictive personality, ie. I am predisposed to addiction. Sometimes this can be a good thing. For example, I was great at getting to the gym regularly pre-baby – twice a week I went spinning before work. (Yeah, I can’t believe it either…) And it can also manifest as perfectionism (I talked a bit about this here if you’re interested).

More often, though, it’s bad; I don’t think examples are necessary.

We all know that the key to any addiction is abstention – absolute abstention. Because, of course, limited exposure to said addiction is a slippery slope. The temptation is too great, and old habits die hard.

So the obvious solution is to go cold turkey; and for someone like me with an addictive personality, once a new routine has been established, it’s usually not too difficult to maintain. I did it when I quit smoking; I did it when I drank too much in my early twenties; I’ve done it on diets. I could do it again.

But what happens when that addiction is necessary for your job?

I am a bit embarrassed to admit this, but my ‘problem’, one that (in true addict behaviour) I have only just acknowledged, is my phone. Or social media. Or my blog. Attempting to classify the precise issue is confounding and futile, because they’re all bound up together. Suffice to say, I know there’s something not quite right and I know I have to address it.

My Love/Hate Relationship With Social Media
Chasing time…

I also know this particular addiction is a symptom of the times, and it’s becoming more prevalent. I wonder whether you are affected without even realising it?

I’ve compiled a list of the prompts which brought my attention to my predicament, and which may be used as identifying markers in yourself:

 

  1. Buzz

What doesn’t much help is that as with all addictions, there’s a pay-off: I cannot deny that each notification provides a small thrill. Is this a retweet from someone influential? Have I hit a new milestone? Have I received a complimentary comment? Shamefully, there’s only one reason for these rather pitiful achievements creating a physical flush of excitement: ego.

 

  1. Stress

The agitation invoked can feel ambiguous – sometimes incredible (the buzz); but just as likely bad (stress). Confusingly, the two often overlap, making it difficult to accurately identify the feeling. That’s because the chemical make-up is the same for both: adrenaline. But what’s fairly consistent is the addictive quality of the physical response.

 

  1. Intrusive Thoughts

Intrusive thoughts are defined as those which are unwanted. I regularly find myself collapsing into bed, unable to switch off. Even when exhausted, I sometimes find myself writing posts in my head when I’m supposed to be sleeping, which I’ll have inevitably forgotten by the following morning. And there’s nothing more frustrating than having the vague notion that you’ve written a masterpiece during the night, if you could only recall the words… Thus even this gives rise to more stress, because I find myself in the early hours of the morning, debating whether to quickly jot down my thoughts, or just try to switch off.

 

  1. Control

I loathe the control it has over me. I despise social media and all it stands for – and yet I find myself drawn deeper and deeper into its clutches. It is a necessary evil in order for my business to flourish; and so I persevere.

 

  1. Selfishness

My daughter is too young to coherently articulate her thoughts on the matter. She does so instead with whining and pulling at me when my attention is momentarily diverted to my phone. My husband is arguably more eloquent, and while I cannot fault his support, I am aware that he would quite appreciate having his wife’s full attention from time to time.

 

  1. Compulsion

I know and understand that for the good of my marriage and for the sake of my daughter I should have phone-free time. I accept the detrimental effects of succumbing to the pull of those notifications are real. They’re not going anywhere, I could resist until a more appropriate time later. And yet, as with any other addiction, I am compelled…

My Love/Hate Relationship With Social Media

It’s easy to tell yourself being responsive is being professional, because of course that’s true. It’s easy to convince yourself that having little to no downtime means you’re simply working, albeit really really hard.

But under all the fluff, the uncomfortable truth is that it’s not healthy.

What doesn’t help us that it is social in more than just name. Some of the friends I speak to most are those I’ve met through blogging, and never actually in reality (yet). Essentially, I have a love/hate relationship with social media: l love the sociability; I hate the media. 

The dilemma is made all the more difficult because this life is one of several possible lives, the alternatives being:

  • Going out to work full-time, which would mean putting Pixie into nursery – and the associated guilt that would naturally come with that option.
  • A SAHM (as opposed to work at home), which as already mentioned would very likely result in the loss of my sanity, as well as the loss of my income.

Ultimately, it’s about the lesser of several evils: you pays your money, and you takes your choices…

In the fleeting moments when I look at the situation with perspective, like this one right now – I find it intolerable. If I want my business to be successful, I have to continue making use of the very platforms which threaten my relationships.

So how do I strike that balance as a work at home mum, when there are too few hours in the day? I already put everyone else’s needs above my own. The only allowance I make for me is in writing this blog to retain some sanity. When there’s the briefest opportunity to unwind, I work. And still it’s not enough.

I acknowledge the paradox of the blog being the source both of my sanity and my insanity. But having come this far, and it also having become a source of friendships and finance, I can’t give it up.

Presumably then, I need to work smarter.

My Love/Hate Relationship With Social Media
Tidy space, tidy mind. Or that’s the theory at least…

I’ll be writing about how I intend to do that when I figure it out. Probably around the same time that I change my mind about Justin Bieber and decide to give him a chance to grow on me…

In the meantime, this post is intended as a heartfelt apology and tribute to my family – for my inadequacies, and their unwavering patience and support.

For some ore serious posts about upping your blogging game, check out my tips for newbies and my post on the blog admin you need to nail to take your blog to the next level.

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An award-nominated blogger and author, Kate is an experienced breastfeeding advocate, and expert baby sleep chaser. Her writing has appeared on Mothercare, Huff Post, and BritMums.

56 Comments

  1. Louise | Squished Blueberries Reply

    I think I am addicted to my blog and I’ve only had it less than4 weeks. I am an all or nothing person, i don’t know if that means I have an addictive personality but if I decide I’m doing something then ‘mm very quickly ‘all in’. It comes from wanting to make a success of thongs so like you say it can be a good thing. I need to force myself to take a step back and take a break though. Thanks for writing this, I needed the reminder

    • Kate Reply

      Ah, your blog is in its infancy – I hate to break it to you but you can expect things to get worse. Much worse… (if my experience is anything to go by, which – of course – it may not!)

  2. Oh my word noooo you are describing me too argh! And you know that makes us both ‘enablers’ too oops! You know, it’s a good and a bad thing but I really think it’s only a bad thing if our love (obsession) for all things blogging and social media is harming others – and it isn’t. That’s what Dr Phil would say and he’s incredibly wise 🙂 I think there’s a fine line though and we probably need to find more of a balance – I don’t want to miss out on a moment of family life either as much as I can help it. I’m sure a better balance will be found in time for both of us. It will be a cold day in everywhere when I decide Justin Bieber is worth looking at though x x

    • Kate Reply

      Eek, I’m not sure my hubby would agree! How ironic that he feared being neglected for the baby, and that doesn’t happen… Oops.

      Hell. Freezes. Over. Springs to mind! ?? xxx

  3. I totally and completely get this. I find myself getting more and more drawn into my blog and social media, the boundaries between online and offline time blurrring. I never seem to be able to switch off, and yet I know that I should. I know that I should like you, spend a bit more offline time with my husband and family. But at the same time, you get out what you put in, dont you? At least thats where I’ve ended up on the argument in my mind. Difficult one, but you clearly arent alone 🙂 Emily #TheList

    • Kate Reply

      That’s it exactly Emily! And by the time we’ve already invested SO much, we have to see it through! But there is no ‘through’, because there is *always* something else we can do! I just can’t stop tittivating, in case this is the change that will silly rocket my stats! Good to know it’s not just our family though! X

  4. Oh help this is me! I am addicted to my blog and I am only in my third month and I can not leave it alone. This has served as a timely reminder that sometimes we need to take a step back! #thelist

    • Kate Reply

      Good luck with that! I’ve found I only get more drawn in with each passing month/milestone…

  5. This is me, I just can’t ignore all the things that are swirling around my mind that I need/want to do on my blog. I just have to get things done. Yes, social media is part of that, as like you say it’s a big part of this world.:-)

    • Kate Reply

      That’s exactly how I am, if I have something on my to-do list, I can’t relax till it’s done. But then something else immediately replaces it. And on. And on… X

  6. It is hard. I bow down to anyone who gives it up for Lent or for good. I think there are benefits and if you need it for your job it’s hard to put it down. Maybe it’s about allocating so much time to it in a slot and that’s it. #TheList

    • Kate Reply

      That’s a good idea in theory, but I’m not convinced it works in practice! Do often I think ‘I’ll just…’ and it’s like Alice and the rabbit hole!

  7. megan - truly madly kids Reply

    This is me to a tee … I am completely addicted. I have found not taking my phone to bed has helped … not the first thing / last thing …

    Also, just putting the darn thing away when I am out!!

    #thelist

    • Kate Reply

      My husband would love that. But it’s when I catch up on admin!

  8. I’m a nightmare for a lot of this too, it’s the only thing I’ve ever had any kind of compulsion with. I can cope with stepping away from mt blog when I need a break and I can cope if I haven’t got any Internet but if I can access my social Media then I HAVE to!xx #TheList

    • Kate Reply

      I can’t do tittivating my blog either, so I really have no hope! Xx

  9. Oh Kate, I could have written (not as well as you, may I add) I feel ALL of these things. I feel terribly guilty a lot of the time but if I’m not ‘on’ things get out of control. My SM has moments of going completely crazy and I try my very best to reply to everyone and dedicate my time if needs be. I also find my emails unbearably hard to stay on top of and have started triaging them by subject line, there’s a good chance that several good ones end up in the bin but I physically can’t take on anymore work at times – although it does tend to be feast or famine at times. I have actually gone to bed at 10pm for the last two nights and feel much better for it but those are several hours that would normally be spent catching up. It’s hard to find the right balance. I could go on about this all day..xxx
    Ps. I am pretty sure that I have written whole masterpieces in my sleep as well as composed music (I play piano) if only I could remember in the morning 😉

    • Kate Reply

      It’s terrible, isn’t it. The worst thing is that I can’t see an end, and I do kind of get a hit from it. And even though I *know* it’s not healthy, I can’t step away. So, yeah, I am basically just like any other type of addict, aren’t I. ? Must. Keep. Trying… At least I usually manage to go to bed by a reasonable hour I suppose. But I wonder how long it will last! Xxx
      Ps. Thank you for your lovely compliment.
      Pps. Is there anything you don’t do?! If you weren’t so nice I’d be intimidated. ?

  10. This is totally me, I think I have an addictive personality too and feel like social media, my phone, my blog is taking over for pretty much the same reasons as you. I always write my best ever posts just as I am falling asleep too, then forget them all before I wake up! #KCACOLS

    • Kate Reply

      It’s terrible, isn’t it! But I guess it goes with the territory given the response to this post!

  11. I feel like I’m addicted to instagram. I’ve had it for 6 (maybe even 7) years and Its the first thing I look at when I wake up. Maybe I should take a break 😮
    #KCACOLS

    • Kate Reply

      I suppose it really comes down to whether it interferes worth other areas of your like, particularly if it has a detrimental effect on relationships. If not then you’re good!

  12. I am completely and utterly addicted to my blog, and therefore social media! There are so many social media platforms to branch out into as well! Takes a lot of precious time to do all the promoting and networking. I bet this compulsive blogger behavior is more the rule since we are all so passionate about the topics we write about. Our websites become a little piece of ourselves! Let me know when you have it all figured out, it would really help my home life, lol!
    #KCACOLS
    Tori
    http://www.themamanurse.com

    • Kate Reply

      Absolutely, I agree with you completely. I’ve resisted various platforms until recently – when I realised not doing it was harming my blog… So I now have pinterest and stumbleupon accounts, but I could definitely be better with them. And I still don’t have instagram! Bahhhh!

  13. I think we are all a little addicted to our blogs & I am definitely addicted to my phone. I didn’t have it for 2 days before Christmas & hated it. #kcacols lifeinthemumslane

    • Kate Reply

      I agree, it’s prevalent in this community, and inevitable.

  14. I can so relate to this – I think in some way it is part and parcel of the blogging world. I am never without my phone and am constantly checking it. I have thought before that I really should set some time away from social media and the blog but I just can’t seem to do it!
    If there is some kind of magic cure I would love to know!

    Thank you for linking up to #KCACOLS and I hope to see you back again next week x

    • Kate Reply

      Precisely, and me too! If I ever get rich enough I’ll be paying someone to handle all that for me so I can concentrate on writing! Which, of course, is why I started blogging in the first place.

  15. I think most bloggers can relate to this post! I think the thing I can related to most is that rush you get when a notification pops up on my phone. The worst thing I ever did was buy a smartphone!! #KCACOLS

    • Kate Reply

      Yes, with the response I’ve had to the post I agree with you! Which makes me feel a ‘little’ better… X

  16. The blog is both the source of sanity and insanity. I can relate to that! I am working on putting my social media use into clearly defined boxes of time within the day, in the hope that’ll help curb the addiction. Great post. #thelist

    • Kate Reply

      Thanks Kamsin! I keep meaning to do that, but I’ve not been entirely successful yet… I just can’t relax when there’s something I need to do playing on my mind!

  17. I don’t feel I have an addictive personality, but I love blogging so much it is very easy to let it interfere. The guilt makes it less enjoyable, but if I neglect the blog, I feel bad too. I guess working smarter not harder is key! Mmmm, but how?
    Amanda. #kcacols

    • Kate Reply

      That’s it, isn’t it? I’ve kind of accepted that guilt is part and parcel of being a mum. Whatever I do, I’ll feel bad I’m not doing it different or better. X

  18. My name is Claire and I’m a phone-a-holic. I have hourly rushes and pangs of guilt about this handy little device that I’m now using to write this comment. Please let me know when you work out the compromise! I need it for myself and my family too! X #thelist

  19. I’m so glad I’m not the only one! I am finding the more I learn about blogging, the more I research into growing my blog everything pretty much points me in the direction of social media. In a way I am some what fortunate, that my daughter is in school, that she is with her dad alternative weekends and that my partner works late in the evening and is either asleep when I work during the day or not here at night. It makes it easier to put the phone down and close the laptop but I know I will struggle when we decide to increase the amount of small people in the family! #kcacols

    • Kate Reply

      That’s the trouble isn’t it? If you want your blog to be a success, there’s really only one way..!

      I’m envious of your extra time, though that will come for me in due course. Hopefully I won’t have thrown the towel in by then! Haha!

  20. Rachel (Lifeathomewithmrsb) Reply

    I have a love/hate relationship with my blog. Some days i’m really keen to write and be active on twitter while some days i don’t even want to think about it. I have a full time job which isn’t blogging. I am too addicted to social media, even when i don’t like it! #KCACOLS

  21. The Pramshed Reply

    You are describing me perfectly in this post, how to manage it all, and look after a little one and blog at the same time. The too come hand in hand, but don’t go hand in hand. I’ll be interested to hear how you manage. There’s always the guilt feeling, I feel like I’m not giving enough to my daughter and then not giving enough to my blog. I’m not sure how I’m going to put a full time job into the mix in June. Let us know how you get on. Claire x #KCACOLS

    • Kate Reply

      That’s completely right – before you begin it seems like the perfect scenario, but sadly, the reality is quite different!

      Good luck for when you return to work x

  22. That’s a hard one isn’t it and by the look of all these comments and the one I am going to add. You are not alone. I suppose it’s about drawing out what is a general love of what you are doing and the genuine pride felt with comments and shares vs your life depending on it. I bet you could do without it if you had to. In the meantime you are entitled to feel proud of what you have (even if you aren’t present at times) #KCACOLS

    • Kate Reply

      I agree, it’s about striking that balance. The difficulty is in knowing you have to be active in order to make a success of your blog…

  23. The Speed Bump Reply

    This is so well written and honestly it’s like you’ve looked into my head, it’s scarily relatable actually. Such a great post.

  24. Silly Mummy Reply

    It is so hard to balance! Obsession with the blog bothers me less, as I at least like my blog. All the social media and constant checking & interacting is worse, because actually I don’t like it much. Before the blog, I only used fb & all I did was post the odd quote/humorous meme/political rant status & look at similar that came up on my feed a couple of times a day. I was not on any other SM & I didn’t want to be! #KCACOLS

    • Kate Reply

      My trouble is the fact social media is bound up in my blog. Just like you, I wouldn’t be doing it otherwise!

  25. lizzie ( firstooth ) Reply

    It’s all incredibly addictive but I never understand what I’m addicted to. But thank you for making me feel normal. Sometimes I’m scrolling through timelines thinking “what am I even looking for”

  26. Twinwrecked Reply

    I really enjoyed reading your article. It flowed articulately and made clear concise points. Your writing style is inspiring.

  27. TheGirlWithThePen Reply

    I definitely have an addictive personality and posts like this make me realise how scary and compelling it can be. I’ve barely been blogging a week although I’ve been writing a lot longer. Crazy how before this I never saw myself as someone addicted to their phone.

    I found this post while writing something for my blog and I’m so glad I did.

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