I have been doing really well since my de-addiction. I sleep better, I eat better, my thinking is clearing up (though I am not totally there yet). After years, I find myself scowling a lot less and I can sense a faint smile tickling the corners of my lips every now and then.
I became an addict in 2007. It started quite simply. I had heard about it from friends. Some of whom I had known for several years and some I had just recently met. I don't recall a specific conversation or a moment. It was just one of those things. A friendly but constant murmur... "You've got to try it!", "It's so amazing", "Out of this world!", "Would I ask you to try it if I hadn't tried it myself?", "Oh come on! Don't be a wuss!"
And so I did.
I liked the rush, the heady feeling. I couldn't believe that this was possible. I had never in my life known anything like this. This feeling. It was personal. It was powerful and it was mine for the asking.
I couldn't eat, drink or talk to anyone before I got my fix.
I had dabbled, thinking I would skip out in a day or two but before I knew it I was swimming... no, swimming takes effort. I was floating in no time, navigating my way through, learning quickly and being amazed at my own ability to turn pro, so fast. Before I knew it I was proselytizing to others. I was gently tugging at friends' elbows, taking them to a corner and showing them what I had. If eyebrows shot up, I patted their arm and convinced them to try it. "Would I ask you to try it if I hadn't tried it myself?" If someone put up resistance, I gave them my best judgemental laugh and told them they were too dull to try something new. If they were aggressive and tried to change my mind, I cut them off. They were not my friends anymore.
In less than a year, I showed the classic signs of addiction, but of course I didn't recognize them as such. I worked a fulltime job and a very busy one at that. I would impatiently look at my watch all the way home. I willed people in front of me to drive faster, every two-minute halt at a red light was excruciating. Once home, I would dash out of the car. I couldn't eat, drink or talk to anyone before I got my fix. My husband found my behaviour odd but didn't say much. I had made a few attempts to convert him but he did not bite the bait. He was also not aware of how fast things were moving for me. Neither was I.
I was ashamed of my dependence and yet I was afraid to leave. I was too fatigued to keep up and too scared to let go.
I quit my job. Not because of my addiction, but things just happened that way. I was at home. Alone. Free. Free to enslave myself to my new master. I found others who were just like me, who were not just willing but wanting to spend time with me. I called them my community. I embraced them into my life and shared everything with them -- my highs were their highs, my lows were theirs too. We hung out with each other, exclaiming, sighing, high-fiving and crying -- all in unison, like one giant beast. I felt blessed, I felt loved and I felt needed. "This is what makes us human", I once said and truly believed.
Then things began to change. Just like the beginning, the steps towards the end are hard to recall. It wasn't like the flipping of a switch, more like a gentle pulling down of a lever. There were cracks developing in the beautiful picture that I had created. My community had turned in on itself. People were slowly transforming into caricatures of themselves -- smug, cheery, outraged, poetic... they hid stubbornly behind their chosen masks. Disagreements had turned into squabbles. Vanity and jealousy seeped through like dirty water, defacing the very walls that everyone once leaned on for support. Those with power bared their teeth at others. The feeble chose their heroes and followed them, chanting mindlessly. In the ensuing noise, everyone was shouting to be heard, the veins in their necks bulging, faces disfigured and frozen in over-the-top expressions. Our hippie commune had turned into a cattle fair from hell.
I was ashamed of my dependence and yet I was afraid to leave. I was too fatigued to keep up and too scared to let go. I tried and relapsed several times.
And then I did the bravest thing I have done in my otherwise unspectacular life -- I went cold turkey. One morning I just stopped using and continued to distract myself away from it every time I felt weak. And it worked!
It wasn't easy but I have stayed clean for a long time now.
I am proud to say that I am no longer a social media addict.