What makes us keep coming back?

Lately I’ve been noticing this common need to take a step back from social media, myself included. The more I talk to clients and friends they all seem to be in the same boat which got me thinking: what makes us keep coming back?

I understand that for so many it's actually work and you can't just delete it from your life but beyond the tool itself, I’m interested in the discussion of the identity created around self narrative, perception and projection through the lens of social media.

It seems to me that there are three main underlying motives which keep us engaged and coming back even though we are so tired of it. It’s boredom, avoidance and FOMO. We are bored, we are trying to avoid/escape something and we don’t want to miss out.

Let’s take a deeper look. When our minds are completely lost in our thoughts, we are unaware of the thinking process. When we find ourselves in an auto pilot reactive cycle that has very little capacity to observe what's actually going on, it’s normal to lean into actions/thoughts that are very habitual. For some it might be just boredom with their present experience, as if the outer is more exciting than what is happening right here, in this case we seem to be disconnected from a sense of freshness to perceive life that’s happening around us. Everything feels so predictable and boring. For others it might be that their experience is not pleasant, it’s actually maybe uncomfortable due to stress, perhaps some underlying difficult emotions in the background or whatever their present experience is bringing forth, there’s this grasping for escape and our phones are the easiest and fastest way to unplug, through the lens of social media we can distract ourselves, we can avoid feeling.

And the last one, for some it might be a fear of missing out. It’s so common in us this pursuit to feel included, to feel a part of. We have this inner need to be seen and heard, for some it’s a never ending search. It feels that if we are off of it (social media), we are missing this capacity of being seen and to see, being heard and to hear, of recognition and validation.

Like I always say, any of this shouldn’t be conclusive, I invite you to actually do your own inner discovery and investigation. Go beyond the discomfort it brings you to spend so much time on social media. Let’s challenge our perception of “yeah, it sucks but I can’t get off of it”. I’m also not trying to say that you have to get rid of it. All I'm asking is what keeps you coming back? What is the backstory? What are you looking for? How is your sense of identity built around it or not around it?

If and when we can create more distance with this tool, then we’ll be able to start using it with more awareness, more focus, less projection and more space because it can be a dangerous field. So maybe there's an opportunity here to apply the teachings, using it as an object to bring us more understanding about who we are, what really matters and where are we standing



Mari Chin