Although I have been an avid user of social media since I was about 13, it was not until recently, at 20, that I felt that I was almost addicted to it.
Sure, I was glued to my phone like any other teenager, but I never really used it as heavily as my peers. They all seemed to have hundreds of notifications every day and talked to people they had never met in person. I, on the other hand, only really talked to my friends and was lucky to get 10 notifications in a day.
That all started to change after I downloaded TikTok. If you’re preparing for yet another rant about how awful TikTok is, rest assured that this is not one. Truthfully, I have no real problems with TikTok as a platform. They’re not the only platform doing whatever it is they are not supposed to be doing, but that is an article for a different day.
The reason why I bring up TikTok in particular is because I have never been a huge fan of other social media platforms. Do not get me wrong, I definitely spent way too much time using them, but a majority of them just weren’t always my thing.
I wasn’t the target audience for the influencer era of Instagram, and I never really understood how to use Twitter. Funnily enough, I only downloaded Facebook recently, just to occasionally see what my older family members are up to. The only other platform I ever felt this fond of was Tumblr.
What I think Tumblr and TikTok have in common when it comes to holding my attention hostage is that their algorithms are incredibly customizable. If you get bored on either platform, it is really easy to find some content that you enjoy. Upon finding said content, these platforms work incredibly well in recommending you more of that same content, allowing for hours and hours of mindless scrolling.
While I no longer use Tumblr, TikTok has been the number one contributor to my procrastination issues. According to my battery usage from March 4, 28% of my battery was spent on TikTok, with 21 minutes being spent using the app. This doesn’t sound like much, but when compared to the nine minutes spent on Snapchat and the two minutes spent on Instagram, trust me when I say that I’m spending most of my free time on TikTok. Even with writing this article, I have had to put my phone across the room just to focus. Once I’m done writing, there’s no doubt that I will be right back to scrolling.
Unfortunately, it is not just my procrastination levels that have been affected. I’ve noticed lately that my attention span is just not where it used to be. Even if I don’t want to be on my phone and would much rather be doing something productive, I find myself in a constant state of mindlessly scrolling.
This is especially clear when I think back on my middle school days, where I devoured book after book and spent most of my time in the library. I have noticed how much of my attention is devoted to distractions, rather than things that I truly enjoy. I still love reading and being a creative writing major requires doing a lot of that. When I go to do homework that requires reading or analyzing a text, I can barely read a page without feeling exhausted.
This lack of concentration and attention to the things around me, has made me realize just how much I’m missing out on. I mean, why am I spending so much time scrolling through video after video, watching things I don’t necessarily care about? I believe that social media has made us lose sight of the important things, especially the ones that are right in front of us. Now, if I will actually do anything about it, that’s a different story.