MGU 291 | Social Media Trap

 

It might seem harmless to scroll through social media several hours a day mindlessly. You might think that it’s a way to fight away boredom or escape reality for a moment. But social media can be a prison that can affect your health negatively. In this episode, Jason Wrobel and Whitney Lauritsen talk about how our digital addictions are drowning us in dopamine and not benefiting us at all. Be aware of the dangers it may bring to your mental health especially when you’re comparing your life to other people. Tune into this episode to manage your wellness and increase real happiness in your life.

Trigger warning: we mention facts about suicide in this episode.

Listen to the podcast here

The Dopamine Trap And Social Media Prison

I visited my friend for the first time at her home/work, and the reason it’s combined is because my friend works at a private school and she took on the role of working in the dormitory. She lives in the dormitories with some of these private school girls and she runs their library. It was wonderful as an aside, visiting her because seeing where your friends live and work is neat.

It was also interesting for me walking around a school where there are middle schoolers and high schoolers and having all of these memories come up of not only high school and middle school, but also college. When I was in college, I worked at a summer camp which was at a private girls’ school, and being there reminded me of all of these different places that I’ve been.

Sometimes when you go to different places, they bring up all of these things that you haven’t thought about in a long time. I started reflecting on high school and it was making me feel incredibly uncomfortable. My friend even pulled out some yearbooks. Seeing pictures of some of my old teachers and classmates, I found myself feeling weird in ways that I hadn’t even experienced in quite some time.

We walked through the hallways of the school and we passed by the gym. I’m thinking about what it was like to go to the gym, but we also passed by their indoor swimming pool, which we didn’t have at my high school, but private schools often have them. There’s the smell of the chlorine, and looking at the hallways reminded me of when I was on the swim team. All this stuff’s coming up.

I’m in this uncomfortable state. I was simultaneously fascinated with what it’s like to work at a school and be amongst all of these children who are in that time of life that I remember feeling incredibly uncomfortable. I am lucky to have had a pretty mellow time in high school. Nothing super traumatic happened to me. I wasn’t bullied. I didn’t go through a ton of hardships aside from all the lovely hormone experiences, plus trying to figure out who you are. I’ve known this specific friend since I was in nursery schools. We’ve gone way back. We grew up in the same town. We have so much in common.

It’s almost like living a parallel life because we’re so similar, that talking to her, I feel like I get to see what it would be if I had chosen to work at a school. What I was specifically curious about was what it was like to be around middle schoolers and high schoolers, because we’re in a pandemic, and also, we live in a time with all these digital devices.

We’ve talked about this in a number of different episodes, how digital devices have impacted kids and their mental health. My friend, who’s not someone who exaggerates, said, “It is incredibly challenging to witness these kids who are in the middle of a pandemic going to school, and also living in this time where digital devices have shifted so much for them.” We’re also doing this episode after a lot of awareness has come to light with their practices on platforms like Facebook and Instagram.

There was this energetic weight that I felt from my friend, hearing her talk about what it’s like to live in a dormitory and serve as a mother. An authority and comfort figure, someone who’s caring for these children who had seen so much of their lives during, after and before school, and the heartbreak that she’s feeling of watching them suffer, struggle and how it’s so commonplace for these kids to have extreme mental health issues.

She talked about children who have considered suicide. There was also an interesting case. I don’t want to go into the details for privacy reasons, but one of them had a very severe physical reaction and had to go to the emergency room. It was concluded that the reason this all happened, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, was because of intense stress.

It’s interesting from the outside because I’m walking around this insanely gorgeous private school. Imagine a high-end college, like most of us know like Stanford and Yale. These beautiful colleges and these amazing campuses. That’s what this private school is like. It reminded me how in Massachusetts, where she and I grew up and now she’s working, there are so many private schools, wealth and history when you go into these campuses. It reeks a privilege first and foremost, but it is also insanely beautiful. That context of these girls who are clearly living a life of privilege, they are in this gorgeous place. They’re being cared for by incredible staff members like my friend, who puts so much care and passion into their work.

They have it all, and yet these girls are stressed out, struggling and considering ending their lives. I asked my friend like, “Why do you think this is? Do you think it’s the pandemic?” She’s like, “Yes. It has shifted a lot.” She’s been there for many years. She’s witnessed the before and during the pandemic, and how much that’s changed things.

Right now, we live in a time with all these digital devices. We need to create boundaries on social media use. Click To Tweet

I also have a hunch and I don’t know if she’d be able to truly say this, but the way things have shifted because of digital developments and technology, as we’ve spoken about in so many episodes and how it’s becoming a bigger issue. Even though we’ve touched upon this on so many episodes, I feel like we could devote an entirely separate show to this discussion about how technology is impacting us.

The day of this episode is World Mental Health Day. I am continuously blown away by how much people are struggling. How much anxiety, burnout, stress and depression are impacting people. I put out a little poll on Instagram to check in with people in that community. I asked and I used one of those Instagram stickers on my stories, and it said, “How are you feeling? Good or not so good?”

Not only were the majority of responses on the not-so-good scale, but when you tap on the sticker, you can see who selected that. There was one person in particular who I was surprised, answered it that way. It goes to show that a lot of people are struggling, even the people that you wouldn’t expect, and it continues to make me wonder why. Why is it’s so incredibly common?

I keep wondering, “Is it because of technology?” I don’t want to blame that. The pandemic’s obviously impacting us, but it feels like the pandemic, it’s not even been two years yet. Energetically, I feel that these issues have been going on way before the pandemic. They’ve just been heightened by it. There is a lot to say.

We’ve got an article we want to discuss from The Wall Street Journal that came out and before this whole Facebook stuff. I don’t know if they’ve updated it since the Facebook developments, but the article is entitled Digital Addictions Are Drowning Us in Dopamine, rising rates of depression and anxiety in wealthy countries like the US may be a result of our brains getting hooked on the neurotransmitter associated with pleasure. That gives that context to these kids that are very privileged in the US that are so hooked on these things, but maybe they think this is helping them, but it’s hurting them and making it so much worse.

MGU 291 | Social Media Trap

Social Media Trap: Maybe it’s a good thing when your phone battery dies because you’re forced to get off the device.

 

It’s a hard trap to get out of because a lot of things are addictive. We’re focusing on digital technology, smartphone usage and social media, but if we look at other things that increase dopamine in our body, which is the pleasure hormone and activates the pleasure centers in the brain, there are a lot of things that are ubiquitously and societally acceptable that get us addicted.

Look at how much stuff contains sugar. We have our second podcast, that’s a private podcast called This Hits The Spot, where we talk about food products, brands and things we enjoy. Even in the natural product space, I’ll turn over products sometimes, and I’m shocked how much sugar is in everything. It’s perfectly, societally acceptable to eat a ton of sugar, even though we know about the risks to potentially get diabetes and inflammatory effects in the body.

We’re starting to see the data about the psychological, neurological and societal dangers of this, but I don’t know if that many people are taking it seriously yet. It seems like there are a small group of scientists and researchers, you and I talking about. We’re obviously very interested because it’s a lot more impactful than most people even realize.

Interestingly in this article, it’s written by a psychotherapist named Anna Lembke. She was suggesting to a patient of hers to do dopamine fast, to abstain from all screens and video games. Apparently, he was addicted to video games. It’s interesting because she says, “I’ve seen more patients who suffer from depression and anxiety, including otherwise healthy young people with loving families, elite education and relative wealth. Their problem isn’t trauma, social dislocation or poverty. It’s too much dopamine.”

A chemical produced in the brain that functions as a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward. When we do something we enjoy, like playing video games for this particular patient, the brain releases a little bit of dopamine and we feel good. One of the most important discoveries in the field of neuroscience in the past is pleasure and pain are processed in the same parts of the brain, and the brain tries hard to keep them in balance.

Whenever it tips in one direction, it will try hard to restore the balance, which neuroscientists call homeostasis. It’s like as soon as the dopamine is released, the brain tries to down-regulate the number of dopamine receptors that are stimulated. The brain tries to level out and tips to the side of pain and every human can relate to this, which is why that after you feel massive amounts of pleasure, you usually feel a comedown or a pleasure hangover.

If we wait long enough, we ride through the sadness or the pleasure hangover, it goes away, but she said there’s a natural tendency to try and counteract it by getting more of the thing that makes you feel good. It’s almost like with all of the upheavals that this pandemic has caused in terms of our finances, health, uncertainty, trust issues and the divisiveness in the world, it’s no wonder people are binge drinking and dying of drug overdoses at a higher rate. We look at the statistics of depression and suicide. It’s no wonder that people are reaching for things like social media, video games, sugar and alcohol because people are depressed and sad.

I can speak from experience. The level of depression and suicidal ideation I have felt through this pandemic has been brutal at times. It’s like I could numb out. I could go and grab alcohol, and I’m not shaming anyone who does this and chose it who has an addiction, but God knows if we want to be addicted, there are many legal and societally acceptable options to be addicted to.

It’s interesting to understand the neurology of this and how our brains have evolved over time. It’s like the digital products, we’ve said this in previous episodes, they’re designed to be addictive. They use flashing lights, vibrant colors and celebratory sounds. There are tactile haptics that gives you feedback and they vibrate. These are designed to be addictive devices. What do we do about it? That’s the real question.

It also reminds me of one other thing that came up in this conversation with my friend. She was telling me about her day and how exhausted she is. She’s not a parent, but she has been in this parental role at the dormitories. She was telling me she works until 11:00 at night, and I’m like, “What are you doing until that late?”

Try to use social media more mindfully and intentionally. Don’t just mindlessly scroll. Click To Tweet

She goes, “Lights out is at 10:00.” I was like, “What do you mean lights out? These girls are old enough. Can’t they go to bed whenever they feel like it?” She’s like, “No, because some of them are addicted to being on their devices. They need somebody to come and remind them that they need to sleep. Otherwise, they will stay up all night.”

In theory, it makes sense that they would learn the consequences of not getting enough sleep, but to your point, if this is an addiction, which it is, then somebody needs to go and create boundaries or in some cases, maybe do extreme things to get people away from these devices. It’s almost like that study of rats.

There were some drugs like cocaine or something that they gave rats, and they found that the rats would not eat anything. All they were doing was having the drug. They couldn’t stop. They forgot about everything else that was important to them because they were so addicted to this drug. That to me is what’s happening with all these devices.

This article points out that this is relatively new. These addictive substances, this whole new class of electronic addictions, did not exist when you and I were in high school, and they were barely there when I was in college. Certainly, video games and computers were around, but the iPhone, which shifted things, came out in 2007. I was already out of high school and college by that point. I did not experience it when my brain was still developing.

The other thing that is so important, which we’ve touched upon this, and you even said that people that have loving families, elite education and relative wealth are suffering from depression and anxiety. That’s because those things are not the problems. Raise in depression, anxiety, physical pain and suicide are increasing all over the world, according to this article, especially in rich nations.

Logically, people can think, “What do you have to be so upset about? You’ve got everything that you need,” but everything that you need maybe what’s bad for you. As we’ve talked about across so many episodes, if you have a lot of money, privilege and access, if you want to get a new iPhone, computer and video game console, they’re always coming out. If you have a lot of money to spare, you can always get a new one because it’s flashy and they’re well-advertised to us. Even you and I, as adults, struggled to say no to those things.

What helped me was when I was reflecting on whether or not to get the new iPhone, which we touched upon in an episode. At this moment, I concluded that I didn’t think I wanted to get it. I want to hold off for as long as possible. My iPhone X, even though it’s old, is a solid phone. The only issue that I have with it is the battery isn’t that great, but technically, I could replace the battery.

I don’t need a fancy new camera. It’s very tempting to want to get the new camera because they’ve upgraded the software and the things the newer phones can do that the older phones can’t, but do we need them and at what cost? I don’t know if I mentioned this in the previous episode, but maybe it’s a good thing if your phone doesn’t have long battery life. Maybe it’s a good thing when your battery dies because you’re forced to get off the device.

Do you know what I find myself doing when my iPhone dies? I have this little moment of sadness, then I go and plug it in and I wait. I could use a backup battery, plug it in and get back into bed or whatever I’m comfortable or get a long cord. In most cases, a dead battery is not that big of a deal if you have a way to charge it. Oftentimes when my phone’s charging, I switch to my computer or my iPad. I’m like, “I have something else to go to.”

When I step back and reflect on that, that is a little frightening. As I’ve mentioned in the past too, I feel I have fairly good self-control and self-awareness. Every time I experienced that moment of like, “I need to be on some device,” or I’m bored for 30 seconds, and the first thing I do is go to a device. Whenever I’m aware of myself doing that, I find it so frightening.

When you read articles like this that there are so many out there, it’s becoming incredibly scary because these devices are so accessible and appealing. Everybody’s on them, and then not to mention, the other side of this is reflecting on this whole world we have of everybody’s doing it, so I feel like I have to as well. When you’re in high school and college, you don’t want to be that weird person that’s not on their phone all the time and not taking pictures and posting them to social.

We’ve got this whole obsession with how many followers people have. Even when you don’t think you care or don’t want to care about these things, it’s scary to not do them because it’s terrifying not to fit in. Another book that I’ve been reading is The Coddling of the American Mind. To coddle someone, how would you define it?

It’s sheltering them or treat in an indulgent or overprotective way.

MGU 291 | Social Media Trap

Social Media Trap: It’s very challenging to avoid scrolling through social media. Our brains get hooked on the neurotransmitter associated with pleasure.

 

This book is a look at maybe Millennials, but it might span other generations. One of the sections, if not the section that most resonated with me, the authors that wrote this book, there’s another term they use, but it’s around this idea of cancel culture and how social media has amplified it so much. We’ve talked about cancel culture a lot, but how dangerous that is for us? I wonder how much that ties into anxiety and depression. We want to fit in so badly. Not only do we need to have the devices, but there’s the loneliness factor. When everyone around you is on their devices, what are you going to do?

You’re probably going to get on your device too, because we’re mirroring one another, but we have nothing else to do. We’ve trained ourselves to use devices, video games, social media, watching things and all of that. While everybody else is on their screen, I might as well get on it too. How many people do you know that would sit in a room full of people and their devices and not feel that tempted or not have that knee-jerk reaction of getting on their devices too.

I don’t know if there have been experiments or studies done, but I would imagine you’re going to mirror other people and pull your phone out of your pocket if it’s there. We’ve got people posting on social media because “That’s what you do these days.” I don’t think I know anybody who’s entirely off social media.

Even my dad, who’s not that into social media, he loves Twitter. He’s on Twitter all the time. He does it from his computer, not from his phone. My dad is pretty good about being off devices, but even he is on social media. Even if you’re not posting things, you’re probably on there, reading, comparing and all this stuff.

The cancel culture thing too is so important because it’s like we’re being trained to constantly be evaluating one another based on are we fitting in or not, and if you don’t fit in, shame on you. You got to get in line. We’re being trained to divide ourselves based on good and bad, right or wrong, this person versus that person, you’re either with us or against us. This tribalist mentality that we’ve talked about.

The book, The Coddling of the American Mind, also talks about how dangerous that is for our education, especially for the younger people that are afraid to express themselves, because they’re afraid of being canceled, called out and shamed publicly. How crucial is it for our education to make mistakes? If you’re terrified of making mistakes, how do you fully develop as a human being? You’re going to feel depressed and anxious because you feel like you have to constantly be fitting in some mold, otherwise, you’re ostracized. Teenagers, in general, feel that way. Twenty-year-olds and people of all ages probably feel that fear of being ostracized.

Imagine that being so amplified on these digital devices that you literally feel you can’t escape it. Part of what’s very different now and terrifying is it feels like there’s no escape. That reminds me of the number of times you’ve talked about not using social media, but you keep going back to it and I’m curious. Why is it that you fluctuate? What brings you back to social media and what causes you to feel fed up with it? Do you feel like you can escape it, in all honesty?

I fluctuate because I have acknowledged that when I spend less time on social media and on all of my digital devices, I feel better. I go back because it seems that life continues to present me with opportunities to use social media as a beneficial tool. Whether that is for my clients, my work, which ironically, as I was considering getting off social media altogether, I got a wonderful gig to do social media marketing. That’s the definition of irony.

What I’m attempting to do is try to use it more mindfully and intentionally and not mindlessly scroll. I’ve noticed myself minimizing my amount of time that is not work-related and I’m proud to say that. It doesn’t mean I don’t get on there and check in with people, but I noticed that I’m doing it a lot less and I’m trying to mitigate my use exclusively to work-related duties. Whether that’s promoting our podcast, promoting Wellevatr and the brands that I’m working with.

It's a lot about reframing. If we looked at social media for what it is, its core is about human connection. Click To Tweet

Suffice it to say, is there a part of me that fantasizes about being off of it completely? Yes, I still fantasize about it. I wonder how that would affect my livelihood, my ability to make money and work with clients. It’s interesting that The Matrix Resurrections is coming out. I’ve been obsessed with studying it and the theories around the story. I don’t know the plot, but it seems one of the central aspects of it is people on social media and smartphones.

There have been some theories, footage and interesting parts of this movie that The Matrix has evolved, and now people don’t want to escape The Matrix because they enjoy being slaves. They enjoy being plugged into The Matrix. If someone’s enjoying being enslaved to something, they’re not going to ask to be set free. It’s an interesting parallel and I’m interested to see this movie.

I don’t want to use the word slaves flippantly when I use this, but mentally, emotionally, certainly and chemically, we are addicted and enslaved to some degree. That’s my personal feeling on it, but it’s like the prisoners aren’t going to try and break out of the prison if you give them enough entertainment, food, pleasure and dopamine.

To answer your question, I feel like social media is a prison we’re all in for our reasons, but to break out of that prison, almost reminds me of that scene in The Dark Knight Rises, the third Batman movie with Bane. Spoiler alert. There’s that scene where Batman escapes this pit and there are only two people in history who have escaped this pit. As you’re trying to escape the pit, all of the people who are stuck are trying to pull you down back into the pit. That visual, the crabs in a barrel metaphor, feels like social media to me.

It’s like if you get off social media, people are like, “What do you mean? You quit?” Some people admire it, envy it and wish they could do it, but more people are stultified and mystified why you would get off social media. That’s how I feel. I feel like it is. It’s like this mental and chemical prison. Will I get off of it someday? I aspire to, but that time is not right now. In the meantime, I’m trying to manage it more mindfully. I’m doing a pretty good job. I could be better at it, though.

It’s tricky. I can relate to a lot of this too, because most of my work is tied to social media. I don’t think social media as a whole is bad. In fact, at the end of this article about digital addictions in The Wall Street Journal, the guy that the psychiatrist was referencing and supporting decided that he would designate one of his devices for video games, which is his main focus, and one specifically for schools, so he could keep them separate, which is smart. They say this about your home and how different areas represent different things for you.

He also decided that he was only going to play video games with friends and never with strangers so that gaming strengthened his social connections. Human connection itself is a potent and adaptive source of dopamine. It’s a lot about reframing. If we looked at social media for what it is, the core of it is about human connection. This is what I try to think about when I’m doing my own social media and advising other people, which is a huge part of my work. It’s encouraging people to post for a purpose, to help, educate, inspire, motivate and connect with one another. Not to show off and shame.

A lot of people use social media like Twitter. A lot of shaming going on there, but also Twitter can be great for education and connection. Instagram, so much of showing off, comparison and popularity, but if you use Instagram as an opportunity to connect. That Instagram story I posted, I feel connected with people, and what I plan to do is go and reach out to anyone who answered that sticker and be like, “I want to personally connect and have a conversation with you.”

The core of why I’ve been developing my community beyond measure is because I want to deeply connect with people. I don’t want to be somebody posting stuff and it’s a one-way street, which so much of social media is, but can we draw people in and invite them to be part of a community where they feel supportive and safe?

There were some amazing quotes that I pulled up on Goodreads’s website for The Coddling of the American Mind. It’s in a section I don’t know if I’ve read or listened to in the audiobook yet. It says, “They’re two activities that are significantly correlated with depression and other suicide-related outcomes, such as considering suicide, making a plan or attempt.” These activities are electronic device use such as a smartphone, tablet, computer or watching TV.

On the other hand, there are five activities that have inverse relationships with depression. Meaning that kids who spend more hours per week on these activities show lower rates of depression. Number one is sports and other forms of exercise. Number two is attending religious services. Three is reading books and other print media. Four is in-person social interactions. Five, surprisingly, is doing homework. Electronic device use and watching TV are significantly correlated with depression and other suicide-related outcomes.

That’s the thing, especially for you and me, and it’s tricky with a podcast. People have to use a device to read this show. Are we inadvertently encouraging people to spend more time on devices? The plus side is that you could do some of those other five activities and do a form of exercise while reading the show. Maybe that will counteract the downsides of using devices.

You can’t read a book and do in-person social interactions or technically homework. If you would like to balance out your mental health while reading the show or doing something else on a device, perhaps you can combine it with exercise, but I hope that you leave this episode and think about, “What are some of these other things that you can do? How can you read a book or other media? How can you interact with people in-person safely during the pandemic?” Homework, this book is obviously talking about kids in this section, but maybe your homework is something else that’s important to you. Maybe it’s your work and something related to your purpose.

That’s wonderful advice to end on. The thing that got me at the end of this article that we’ve been referencing throughout the episode from Dr. Lembke is she concludes by saying not everyone plays video games, but just about all of us have a digital drug of choice, and it probably involves using a smartphone, which is the equivalent of a hypodermic needle for the wired generation.

Reducing phone use is notoriously difficult because at first, it causes the brain’s pleasure-pain balance to tilt to the side of pain, making us feel sad, restless or cranky, but if we can keep it up long enough, the benefits of a healthier dopamine balance are worth it. Our minds are less preoccupied with craving and we are more able to be present at the moment, and life’s little unexpected joys are rewarding again.

That last line hit me because I’ve noticed that when I’m spending a lot of time on devices, my ability to appreciate playing with my cats, a sunset, a good meal and having a conversation with you, my girlfriend or friends, I have noticed that those little daily things that have brought me joy don’t bring me joy anymore. For me, that’s a huge alarm that something is way out of balance in my life. This is not easy. It’s not easy to acknowledge the addiction that we have, and it’s even more difficult, depending on how deep we are in it, to start to reclaim our time, energy, attention and our dopamine.

Also, be aware of how you’re contributing to these things. Are you contributing by using devices in front of other people who may start to mirror you? I’ve mentioned this before, how if I’m hyper-aware and in my best state, I will rarely use devices around others, because it interrupts the connection, but I don’t want them to be triggered into using them, too. Maybe they don’t want to.

Maybe we can even have open conversations. It’s interesting and that’s tricky, and I’ve mentioned this in a previous episode how my sister is super defensive. She didn’t like it when I asked her not to use her device or look at her. She’ll see me looking at her and she feels like she’s being judged and that’s not my intention. I said, “Deep down, I want to be with my sister and be present. I don’t want to be with my sister, who’s on a device.” If I wanted to do that, I could FaceTime her.

It is also an opportunity for those of us who feel drawn towards posting on social media like you and me. Many people want to connect and share their lives through social. It’s become easier to do that. The one thing that makes me sad that I’m trying to shift is not feeling I have to capture every moment for a social, which has come up so many times on the show. Being at a concert and how many people, the knee-jerk reaction is I’ve got to take a picture in the video. When you mentioned the sunset, I feel like we’ve trained ourselves to take a picture or a video of the sunset.

As I’ve talked about in a past episode, and this is another piece of information that helped me. It’s worth reiterating. I forget what the book was called, but I mentioned that on another episode about how it has been shown that when we take photos and videos, our brain is less likely to remember it, because it thinks, “It’s being captured and documented. I don’t have to remember this.” That’s what our brain is thinking, if our brain could think.

Every time I take a picture of a nice moment, I remember that part of the book, and it’s helped me. I try to either balance it out and say, “I’m going to take a quick photo and a quick video and then be very present. I’m not going to spend a ton of time and I’m not going to post.” I used to do that. I know you used to do that, Jason. It’s like, “We had to post at the moment. You had to do it live.” No, it doesn’t matter. You can post it days, weeks, months and years later, if you want. It doesn’t have to be instantaneous.

MGU 291 | Social Media Trap

Social Media Trap: If you have a lot of money and want to get a new gadget, you can always get one. But most of the time, you don’t even need it.

 

Sometimes I think, “Do I need to capture this and who is this for?” It’s been a big thing for me to reflect on this trip that I’m on because I’m in all these beautiful parts of the country, and I think, “I’ve got to capture this,” but for who? The thing that has helped me reframe this is a picture on Instagram and a video on TikTok. Somebody will see for maybe a few seconds and they go on with their lives.

In that moment that you’re capturing it, that’s your life. You’re savoring it. It’s special to you enough to take a photo and video. Instead of trying to capture it for somebody else, why don’t you capture it for yourself? The best way to do that is to not do it through a device. It’s taking a lot of retraining, because so much of my life being associated with social media, I feel almost this FOMO. Like if I don’t capture this picture or this video, I’m missing out on a good social media post.

Saying that out loud, that’s messed up. It’s okay if the world does not see this photo or this video that I’ve taken. It’s okay that I don’t have it amongst my thousands of photos. You mentioned this, but in case you didn’t, the more photos we take, the more storage space we need, and then we ended up paying for it.

I’m an iPhone user. I have my phone that physically stores it. I have physical hard drives, and then I have my cloud storage that I’m paying for because I have so many photos and videos. If we didn’t take that many photos and videos, we wouldn’t have to pay for it. They’re nice to have but what percentage of all of those photos and videos matter in the long run?

Probably, not the majority of them. If we could reframe our relationship with that alone, we’re making progress and it can shift it. If we step back and think, “Who is this for? What is this worth? Where’s the long-term value?” A lot of times, we’ll realize that being present is not only more satisfying, but it’s so much better for our mental health. We can create a ripple effect by not only doing that for ourselves but by being that example for others and speaking about it.

There will be a shift. That’s my hope. I know we’re going into something called Web 3.0 now and a lot of virtual reality, augmented reality and all sorts of crazy technology on the horizon. There’s a growing awareness about these things that we’re talking about, that enough people hopefully will start to separate it, and maybe at the end of that article, it’ll be less intertwined in our lives and the ways that it has been.

Maybe we can have our digital time in our real lifetime and not turn into Ready Player One, which if you don’t get that reference is a book and movie about the whole world is AI and video games, and that’s what people do, or WALL-E and with all of these future movies we see about people their whole lives are based about sitting around, using technology and not being present. I hope we don’t end up that way, but it’s possible.

I suppose we have a choice though and choosing to maintain human connection, engage with nature and do things like reading, moving our bodies and all the things you mentioned. We’ve said this in previous episodes, and I want to leave on this point is that awareness is part of it. If you have an awareness that you’re addicted, that’s great, but there is a chasm you need to jump between awareness and implementing actions.

We hope we have left you with some actions that you can take. I certainly am endeavoring to spend more time in nature. I’ve been hiking more. That’s been good for my mental health. It’s tough in the wintertime to get out. I say this from the privilege of living on the West Coast, where I can hike in the month of October, November, December.

Not everyone has that capability, but moving your body is a huge part of this and having the awareness to use our devices mindfully. It’s an ongoing conversation and we will always love to hear from you, dear reader. You can email Whitney and myself on our website. It’s Wellevatr.com and our direct email is [email protected]. You can always DM us on any of the social media platforms.

It’s funny enough, Whitney, you talked about getting the new iPhone. I’ve also made the decision to hold off because I want to be mindful of how I am using my money and when I don’t feel the absolute necessity to upgrade something in my life, be it a car or phone, then I feel like it is not imperative for me to do so. Much like you, I’m totally fine with my iPhone X for now, and whenever it is time to upgrade, the phone will let me know.

Thanks for joining us for another episode. We always love to hear back from you. Any of your thoughts, musings and perspectives, we always love to receive that. Until next time. Thanks for joining us. We also have our private podcast, This Hits The Spot, which you can join as a newsletter subscriber at Wellevatr.com or as one of our beloved patrons for as low as $2 a month, supporting both of our shows and our work to discuss things like mental and emotional wellness in the world. Until next time. We appreciate you and we love you and we’ll be back soon. Thanks!

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