The Social Media Rabbit Hole or, The Real Reason I Don't Own a Smart Phone

9.25.2013


I used to pride myself on being one of the last people in my friend group to have a smart phone. I claimed to "not care" about Facebook, and I thought Twitter was stupid. I sat high on my self-created pedestal for a long time, lording over my social media-obsessed peers while frowning on their addiction to the internet and all the worldly distractions it offered. 

I was the last pure, unsoiled being, and I was proud of it. Or, at least that's what I told myself when I wrote this post.

But behind my righteous facade, a darkness was growing.

I got a Twitter, and it crept nearer. I made a second twitter for my editor account (I've actually since deleted it), and the darkness loomed. Then I made a Facebook page for The Lady Okie blog, started up another blog where I post editing and writing tips twice a week (amanadabumgarner.com), and the darkness moved ever closer. 

Now I am convinced that the only thing saving me from disappearing completely down the social media rabbit hole is the fact that I still don't have a smart phone. This is also the reason that I don't plan on getting one any time soon. 


It's not because I don't want one.
It's not because I'm too good for it.
It's not really because I don't want to pay for the data plan. (Although it kind of is.)
It's not because they're evil.

It's because I'm obsessed.

Right now while I'm typing this I'm also thinking about how I haven't checked my Twitter in five minutes. I probably have some interactions to respond to! People "favoriting" my hilarious tweets! People retweeting my hilarious tweets! People tweeting me to tell me I'm hilarious!

!!!!

I'm being a little dramatic, of course, but not really. The darkness is here. Can you feel it? Because I can, and I don't like it. I wasn't until I read this blog post that it all came together for me.

If I waste even 5 minutes on unnecessary social media per day, I will be wasting 30.4 hours a year, which is just over 1 DAY of my life per year. And you know what? I waste well more than 5 minutes a day, so that number is even higher. Major sad face.

The blog post I mentioned asked this question: What do you do when you get free time? She talked about how instead of wasting time on social media, she's trying to be more intentional about the way she spends her free time. The post included a quote saying that the greatest waste is getting an hour of unexpected free time and doing nothing with it. Yet I do this so often. And I am convinced it would be WORSE if I had the ability to carry the Internet with me in my pocket.

Seriously, check out this article about whether or not smart phones are killing our memories.

So anyway, that's the real reason I don't have a smart phone. I'm not shaking my finger at those who have one. I know they can be useful, and the iphone camera is awesome. I don't even know how to take a picture with my phone, which isn't helpful when you're at the mall shopping by yourself and want to text a picture to your best friend for a second opinion.

Still, I just know that it would be so easy for me to become one of those people who can't live without it. And I want to be able to stand in line at Walmart or wait at a stoplight with just my own thoughts to keep me company and not feel the urge to check Instagram every 2 seconds. Because I totally would. I hear Instagram is loads of fun. I mean, who doesn't want to take pictures of their lunch and post it for the world to see?
[source]
Here's the truth: I have enough trouble as it is. At this point, I'm barely keeping my head above the social media rabbit hole. A smart phone would put me over the edge.

[For another great read: Technology and Being Intentional]

If you have a smart phone (so, basically everyone reading this), I'd love to hear how you manage not being obsessed with social media. Would you ever consider going back to a "regular" phone?

Also.... (the really important question) I am just being really dramatic about the whole thing?*
*No, don't answer that.

37 comments:

  1. I love my iphone, but we don't use our phones during dinner and for the most part, once i'm home for the evening I don't use it much until bedtime. On one hand, it makes it so you don't have to spend that hour of free time on social media - you already know what's going on! I just check periodically throughout the day. I have considered going back to a regular phone, but having access to GPS and email constantly is just SO useful, especially right now with wedding planning! I can get stuff done on a break at work, at the store, etc. so I don't have to spend my free time at home doing it!

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  2. I do not have a smartphone either but do have an iPad so at home I can be a bit annoying but I really do love that in public I am very present!

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  3. phones are not allowed at the dinner table or when we go out! that's a rule we have in our family and with friends.

    to be honest, i deal with tons of info daily at work so when i get home, i don't even want to look at the computer/my phone!!

    -kathy
    Vodka and Soda

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  4. I made my husband watch that video!! It definitely freaked me out and makes me think twice every time I carelessly scroll through facebook.
    Good for you for taking a stand!!

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  5. Nobody has a smart phone in my house, we have great family time together, it's good being in the real world!

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  6. I love hearing that I'm not the only one without a smart phone! My students make fun of me constantly.

    Currently, my phone is still on my parents' plan. It's cheaper that way, and they haven't kicked me off yet. (ha!) I swore that once I got a "real" job, I'd get a smart phone. But then my dad threw out the big, "Nope." And since he is Lord of the Phone Contract, I had to go along with it.. or get my own plan, which would make my bill go way, way, way up.

    There are only a few moments when I get frustrated about not having a smart phone. Like when I need to know the address of a place that my outdated GPS doesn't recognize.
    And I HATE that people assume that everyone has smart phones. I mean, I went to a conference last year. The only way you got an entire list of the schedules/giveaways/etc. was to download the app. Um. Sorry, no can do. I hate you.
    But honestly? I'm managing juuuust fine.

    To end this novel of a comment:
    Even though it's not completely "my" choice about whether or not I have a smart phone, I'm kind of glad. I'm at a point now where I really don't care that I don't have Instagram. I don't care that I can't check social media all the time. And honestly? I kind of love the look I get when people find out I don't have a smart phone. It's as if they think I'm an alien.

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  7. Everything you say is true.

    You should have seen my phone a few months ago. It was purple and the guys at verizon looked at it like it was from the stone ages. Riley swore up and down that we'd never get smart phones, and neither one of us was willing to pay for them anyway. Lo and behold, it was the best way to get internet on the boat and we got major discounts on the iphone 4 when the iphone 5 came out.

    So... we went down the rabbit hole. I'm good about not using it in public or at dinner, stuff like that. But it does bug Riley when I use it when we're in the car together. The biggest problem I have is when I blog, instagram or tweet and then find myself waiting (checking obsessively) for notifications. When they don't come I'm like... why aren't I good enough?!! That's a little dramatic, but still.

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  8. I would totally die without it!! Totally dramatic of course. Though I try not to spend nearly as much time as I think others do. I spend more time reading blogs than I do social media so there is that!

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  9. I have a "dumb" phone as I call it. I text from it and that's it. We have another year on our contract and then maybe we'll go to smartphones but I want an unlimited data plan that doesn't cost and arm and leg. I really don't miss a smartphone...most of the time.

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  10. I do have a smart phone, and I love it. The trick is viewing it as a tool, not as a toy. I use it for things like email and gchat so that I can remain in contact with people while I'm grocery shopping and I don't have to sit at my computer all day. I also use it as my primary social media source because oddly, I spend less cumulative time on social media when I use my phone. If I take a picture of something on my phone, I just upload it real quick to all my major SM, and then I'm done. If I do it on my computer I can't resist scrolling through a bunch of updates, and then I've spent thirty minutes wasting time.I also use it as a wifi hotspot when I'm on my laptop in public, and as an external hard drive. Also, having the internet right there in your hand is nice if you are like, out at a dinner and you need to use Wikipedia to prove someone wrong.

    That being said, I long every day for nothing but a land line. And not just so my husband and I could leave one of those goofy outgoing messages on the answering machine. I often miss being able to be unavailable to people. But nowadays there is just no excuse. When your phone (and your availability) were tied to your being physically at home, it was a lot easier to live your life and come back to other people when you wanted to.

    In the end, though, I love using my smartphone. It makes my life better more than it makes it worse.

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  11. I have to intentionally remind myself if I miss something on social media it's no big deal. I constantly fight the internal battle to pick up my phone for a quick check of social media or email, I'm getting better but it's still a battle.

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  12. This. All of this is so, so good. And so right on. You are a smart woman for not falling into the rabbit hole. I 100% admit that I am fully obsessed with my phone and checking instagram. I honestly have been trying to make a better effort about it but it's hard! What if I miss something?! Hahha! It's been my goal lately to unplug a little more...day by day it may get easier.

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  13. "I blog, instagram or tweet and then find myself waiting (checking obsessively) for notifications. When they don't come I'm like... why aren't I good enough?!! That's a little dramatic, but still."

    This comment especially resonated with me. I have a smart phone, but am not attached to and often also find myself "losing" it. I can go an 8 hour work day only checking it once on my 30 min break.

    But the social media rabbit hole had me hooked and in a terrible way. It was seriously affecting how I viewed myself. So I took the year off. No social media (minus blogging) for the whole year of 2013. It's been great. It's made me more intentional with long distance friends, actually excited about getting big news updates from friends (even if they don't come right away) because I can celebrate with the person over the phone rather than clicking some stupid button. And when I open up my accounts again in January I'm leaving the apps off my phone. I'm around my computer a ton less than I have my phone and it's good to leave that divide.

    Sorry for the book, but like you, I can have a lot to say on this subject and the unhealthiness it brings to our lives.

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  14. Are you ready for this? I don't have a smart phone, and the only thing that I can do on my cell phone is call people. That's right, I don't text(!). There are times when I think it would come in handy, but I'm glad that I don't have a smart phone, because I would be sucked down the social media hole, too.

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  15. You know your limits and what you can handle so if not having a smart phone works best for you I think that's great. I have to constantly check myself to keep myself out of my phone but when I think about what a time suck it is I am finding that I am getting better and better at distancing myself from it. Like who cares??? I love the convenience of the smart phone. It's saved my butt and made life easier in so many ways. They key is not letting it control you.

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  16. I completely see your point because I'm addicted to my iPhone. I really want to try to tone it down.

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  17. This is so true! Too often I notice myself distracted by my phone and not being present in the moment. Like when Andrew and I have dinner, or when I'm riding in the car. I need to make an effort to put down the phone and be present. Because usually, it's just mindless scrolling through one feed or another. I thought I was one of the last to get a smart phone, but now I've had mine for a few years! Sometimes I miss my Verizon Chocolate!

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  18. I don't have a smart phone, but I'm probably close to falling down the rabbit hole! I work from home, so I've made one of those self rules, no computer/social media after 4:30. Crazy town, right?! It's hard, but the rabbit hole of death was calling my name and I didn't want to die.

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  19. I so completely understand this. I am happy to see all of the in depth comments you're getting. It's so true. When my Android broke I purposely didn't run to get a new phone. I think I went two months without a cell phone and after about a week and a half I felt less stressed out. I think my brain was so used to constantly having to check and keep up with things that not having to do it made me a happier person. Yet another post by you that I love. :)

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  20. I don't have a smart phone either and, although the main reason is that I don't want to pay for it, the close second is that, like you, I feel as though my life would get too sucked into social media.

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  21. This was something I always enjoyed about camp. When I was a counselor, we still had horrible cell service at the camp. That, combined with barely any Internet, made it nearly impossible to keep up with Social Media. But it was such a breath of fresh air!

    Not having to worry about being up-to-date was great, and I'd love to go back to that. Now-a-days, when I catch myself watching TV AND scrolling thru FB on my phone, I try to remind myself to slow down. Something, I put my phone down and intentionally leave it alone for hours.

    And here's another idea: People calling/texting is rude! They are essentially interrupting you and thinking their information is more important than whatever you're doing. I regularly ignore phone calls and text just because I don't want to be available 24/7. What's the worst that will happen? The caller will think, "weird, crap, oh well," and be forced to go back to their life. It's a beautiful thing not to let it rule your life. Just because it dings, doesn't mean you have to acknowledge it!

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  22. Great discussion! When I have 5 minutes of free time, I do often pull out my phone to scroll through FB. And then when there's nothing new (because I just looked an hour ago), I scroll back to the top and refresh. And then I die a little inside because I really don't want to be that person.

    Katie mentioned wanting a landline, and I am totally down with that. I hate having no excuse to be unavailable. I also hate having to keep my cell phone by my bed at night. Okay, yeah, no one is making me, but if my mom got trampled by a rhino in the middle of the night, I'd like a chance to rush to her deathbed and make her give me the real secret to folding fitted sheets (I've watched all the YouTube videos and still can't do it. Lies. All lies.). But instead, I end up getting texts at 2 am because some people have no decency.

    Having a fancy camera on my phone makes it tempting to be constantly documenting Ava's firsts. I know I'm not fully present for her, though, when I've got my phone out. I still whip it out all the time when she does something cute, but when it's really something special, I consciously leave my phone alone. I think I'm doing okay at that. For example, I'm in Hawaii right this second and have been since Thursday, and I don't think I've put anything about it up on SM. I probably will in th next couple of days, but I'm trying to just soak in this family time. When I'm not reading blogs, obvi. ;)

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  23. Great discussion! When I have 5 minutes of free time, I do often pull out my phone to scroll through FB. And then when there's nothing new (because I just looked an hour ago), I scroll back to the top and refresh. And then I die a little inside because I really don't want to be that person.

    Katie mentioned wanting a landline, and I am totally down with that. I hate having no excuse to be unavailable. I also hate having to keep my cell phone by my bed at night. Okay, yeah, no one is making me, but if my mom got trampled by a rhino in the middle of the night, I'd like a chance to rush to her deathbed and make her give me the real secret to folding fitted sheets (I've watched all the YouTube videos and still can't do it. Lies. All lies.). But instead, I end up getting texts at 2 am because some people have no decency.

    Having a fancy camera on my phone makes it tempting to be constantly documenting Ava's firsts. I know I'm not fully present for her, though, when I've got my phone out. I still whip it out all the time when she does something cute, but when it's really something special, I consciously leave my phone alone. I think I'm doing okay at that. For example, I'm in Hawaii right this second and have been since Thursday, and I don't think I've put anything about it up on SM. I probably will in th next couple of days, but I'm trying to just soak in this family time. When I'm not reading blogs, obvi. ;)

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  24. I do have a smartphone and I honestly do love it. It is nice to be connected and be able to browse the internet if I'm sitting around waiting at the doctors office for example. But, I do also purposely leave it places or put it on silent. I use my smartphone as a work phone as well and I have a strict, don't you dare call me about work after 5 policy so a lot of times I will just put it on silent when I leave the office to avoid even hearing it.

    I do think we are all too connected though sometimes too. I mean what happened to being able to sit around with our own thoughts? Or not needing constant validation that everything we do/wear/eat is awesome? I mean, don't get me wrong, I blog and share just about everything in my life but it is nice to just sit back and enjoy life sometimes and not have to enjoy it through a 3x5 screen :)

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  25. I have a smart phone and I love it. Going back to my old phone wouldn't be the end of the world, but I wouldn't want to go back. I probably do waste too much time on social media, but before I had my iPhone I was on the computer all the time. I think the best part is being able to look up a word or check a fact easily. Plus, some of the apps are just really convenient (dictionary app, Bible app, Bible reading tracker, etc.) Sometimes I have to challenge myself not to check Facebook (I have a Twitter and an Instagram, but Facebook's my go-to social media site). All in all, I think smartphones are fine as long as you don't get ridiculous with them. :)

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  26. I don't have a smartphone either...I'm actually using my very first cell phone...like the same one I had when I was 15. Last Thanksgiving my iphone drowned in a cup of water, so I've been using my old phone ever since. I do miss having a smartphone...it was like a handheld GPS, I actually practiced my Chinese flashcards I had on it, I had an all the time anywhere all access Chinese dictionary, and I could receive and send picture texts and other things that most people take for granted as "normal" these days. But, I do have to say it seems like my dino-phone (that's what I call it) does not break NEAR as easily as smartphones...and I am for sure not as connected to it (hence how often I forget to charge it or never check it for missed calls or messages). I will definitely another smart phone when a good opportunity comes up for it, but they are for sure not a necessity. I was on the campus shuttle earlier, and it was crazy how every single college student was completely engulfed in something on their phone.

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  27. This post read my mind!!! I don't have a smartphone either and I've been contemplating getting one. I have an ipod touch and it does all the tricks. I must say I'm an instagram junkie, twitter a little, and facebook isn. I try really hard not to be one of those peoples always on their phones when they're waiting for something and just being alone with my thoughts. That's one of the reasons I love running. Louis CK was on Conan recently and I thought had really going points about it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5HbYScltf1c

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  28. I used to fee that way too and avoided Instagram, Facebook, tumblr, and smart phones, but now I can't get enough of them. I love how I can keep up with my favorite models and designers on Instagram and how I can keep in touch with my friends across the world using Facebook. Even though I admit that I'm slightly addicted to all the social media, I enjoy knowing that I have access to constant information on my phone.

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  29. You know I'm with you!!! No smart phone here!!! Love it!

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  30. i do love my phone but do think i spend too much time on it. even when i'm watching tv i catch myself looking at it all the time as if i'm going to miss something super important. what on instagram? yes so ridiculous! I want to be intentional with my time, especially now with addilyn and not always checking my phone but it is hard!

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  32. I totally agree with you about people being obsessed with their phones! There's little 10 year olds who have smart phones now. I think it's pretty ridiculous. I would definitely go back to a non-smart phone, but they just aren't making them as much anymore. I do love the camera and having Pandora on my phone though, I must admit. And I would literally be lost without the GPS.

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  33. I don't have a smartphone, but I wish I did so I could take pictures easier. Quinn grabs for the camera, but not the phone so much. And my memory already sucks and has for a while, I don't know why, but that's part of the reason I want to take more pictures.
    I think the main reason I want one is to play games though :)

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  34. This is hysterical. Don't give into the dark side.

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  35. Great post! I am sooo guilty of this social media obsession you speak of. I do have a smart phone, although a rather dumb one at that, but would love to just go back to a plain old nokia or something. I have only had a smartie for a year and it was becoming a but ridic, so now I don't have the data on and I limit my time on it at home by turning off the wifi. I am also trying to limit my computer time too! Sooo scary this whole social media thing!

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  36. Wowsie, that factoid about wasting a day a year on social media is so scary! Personally, I don't really "make myself" control my social media input...I just don't do it aimlessly. When I'm waiting for a train, I let myself go through twitter, instagram, etc, but I don't let myself constantly refresh and wait for more things. Somehow, only checking once or twice is enough. Also, I don't follow "unnecessary" people or follow because I feel "obligated" - it means less people in my feed and less things to scroll through.

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  37. Great post! My answer is, I have a smartphone and I AM obsessed. So I don't avoid it haha. Although I share a data plan with my little brother, who without fail uses up ALL our data within the first two weeks of each cycle (I so don't get that), so for about half the month I'm anxiously counting the minutes until I get home to my wifi so I can check Instagram and see what everyone had for lunch. ;)

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