There has been a lot of talk about the nature of social media and how it has become a vehicle for the ego and making it an unhealthy way to pseudo-connect with others.

Have you yourself ever asked yourself if you could be addicted to facebook?

According to Eckhart Tolle, people have been constructing identities for centuries; technology has just made it easier to spread the self-story to a much broader audience using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube etc

The “Me and my story” as Eckhart tells it, is partly a function of identifying with our culture and family, and partly by choice. You identify with certain things (possessions, achievements, love, success, or lack of these) and incorporate them into your sense of self.

Facebook helps you externalize your self-story and also reinforce it (both to others and to yourself).

Eckhart Tolle gives his take on social media in this illuminating video:

A University of Michigan study on social media and egocentricity shows some interesting findings:

Excessive use of social media sites like Facebook can enable narcissism. The study found that people who exhibited narcissistic tendencies had a much greater social media presence than others, and their posts typically centered around themselves: selfies, status updates and other “me-centered” posts.

That’s not to say that you are automatically a narcissist if you are active on social media, but it’s worth looking at the nature of your communications with the world:

Do you constantly post selfies (and rarely pictures of yourself with others)?

  • Do you share every thought that pops into your head?
  • Do you share how awesome your life is (even if you secretly hate your job, can’t lose weight, and are stuck in a miserable relationship?)
  • Do you share “woe is me” stories and feel good when they’re validated… but don’t respond much when others share theirs?
  • Do you thrive on growing your ‘friends’ list even though you only truly know a handful of them?
  • Does ‘checking in’ interfere with your work?

If any of these sound familiar to you, then you may be addicted to facebook – and according to Eckhart, the root cause of that is your false identification with your ego.

Here’s how to become a more mindful Facebook user:

Addiction Addicted Facebook

Just try to remember that it’s not all about you and your life, even if it is a pretty awesome one. Share things that you find uplifting, inspiring or important that have nothing to do with you, with the genuine intent of making others feel good.

Don’t cause drama (stay away from politics): this gets you into a battle of egos with strangers, and just makes you tense for no reason. You have your opinions and beliefs and others have theirs, but there’s no need to get into it publicly on social media. Nothing beats face-to-face conversation and sharing of opposing ideas!

Schedule social media for non-work time. It’s no problem to update your status when you’re on lunch, but it’s definitely a problem if it interferes with work. Any distraction from your work, whether external or internal, will cause you to have to “reboot” your brain every time you shift focus and this means loss of flow, more mistakes, and lost productivity.

Make more face-to-face connections than you do virtual connections. Nothing replaces being in each other’s presence, looking each other in the eye and noticing the nuances of body language that are completely lost when Tweeting or Facebooking.

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Meditate on who you really are. You wear a lot of hats: mother, architect, husband, dog walker, runner, swimmer, writer etc. – but be aware …. over-identification with these can lead to massive suffering if any of these hats are taken away from you.

Meditate on who you are beyond your activities, jobs, relationships and states of being. This is important because it helps you dissolve the addiction to your self-story.

It allows you to just be you… who happens to enjoy certain things… meditate on the difference between “I am an architect” and “I am doing the work of an architect” or on the difference between “I am a runner” and “I enjoy running.”

Always remember: you are a being who DOES things and experiences things, but you ARE not these things.

Social media is a great way to stay connected with friends in far places. If however it’s becoming a “look at me!” venue that is interfering with your work and actual face-to-face connections, try to be honest with yourself. Look at why and where it fills a need.

Is it a distraction from work that just isn’t satisfying?

Does it boost your confidence when you receive new likes and comments?

If you decide that you are infact slightly or obsessively addicted to Facebook and would like to make a conscious decision to reduce your screen (including mobile device screens) time allowing for more productive and personally rewarding stimulation, meditate on the following:

Ask yourself what value there is for you on Facebook.

It might be keeping in touch and up to date with family and friends. It might be that you use facebook for work. Either way, we know that balance is key in all things!

Really have a think about what you get out of it. How much of your time spent on Facebook is because of enjoyment and how much is an obligation to reply, comment, Like and Share. Do you ever feel you’re just wasting time that could be better spent doing the things you love? Does every bit of Facebook time you invest in improve the quality of your life? This is how you’ll work out what new boundaries you want to set for yourself.

Try giving up being addicted to Facebook for a specific period of time to see how you handle it.

Some Facebook users take the weekend off and others take summer vacation breaks. Regardless of which, the aim is the same in choosing to be completely present and free from external and unimportant distractions. Try it ….. you’ll be surprised how liberating it feels. This will naturally result in an extremely valuable time of reflection if you keep to the promised time of abstinence. You may (without realizing) even inspire some of your facebook friends to do the same.

addicted to facebook like mePay attention to the race to have as many facebook friends as possible.

Having more friends (and groups that you’re a part of) than you can realistically connect with can be a serious source of anxiety as opposed to pleasure. Enjoy the facebook friends you do already have, whilst working on weeding out those (friends and groups/pages) who do not add anything of value to your facebook experience.

This may seem a daunting prospect to those who define their self-worth through the amount of friendships (many who you’ll find are really friends of friends that you don’t even know) rather than quality of friendships. This particular reason for being addicted to facebook is alarmingly on the increase, particularly in yound users.  If this is the case for you too, take baby steps. Start by weeding out just one of these each day from your list, you’ll begin to see your facebook experience change and become much more authentic and easier to manage. Another benefit to this will be more time available to enhance the facebook friends you want to keep that DO add value to your life.

Make it more challenging to go on facebook.

If you have multiple devices that facebook is installed on for example; cell phone, laptop, tablet etc. Try uninstalling it from your phone, if only for a day, to see how you cope.

You may just find that you’ve enjoyed so many new experiences than you otherwise would have, without the constant crutch of having facebook in your pocket.

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