Are You “Self-Medicating” with Your Gadget & Media Addiction?

Our gadgets are a boon to our productivity… and …a drag on it. We can’t function without them, and at the same time we know we’re burning undue time and energy on our social media, news, games, etc…

But did you know that they are designed to be addictive? We are getting hooked. 

A stat from an AdWeek survey: 20% of social media users can’t go a few hours without checking their Facebook.

One from Inc: 28% of iPhone users check their Twitter feed… before getting up in the morning.

And from CNN: While 69% of teens check their devices at least hourly, 78% of their parents do!

And one study suggests that we consult our WMDs (weapons of mass distraction) 150x a day.

But that’s not you, right?

Addiction is… Addiction

As a former drug addict, I’m uniquely qualified to tell you that, addiction is… addiction. Think realistically about your media and devices, because doing so will steal back time, energy, focus and more.

To wit, here are just a few parallels between media and other substances, based on clinical characteristics of addiction from the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence…

Facebook addiction

First and foremost, there’s…making certain you maintain access to the drug. It’s called “preserving the stock.”

My father did the ultimate move for an alcoholic – he bought a tavern. I maintained my access to drugs by cutting out my undependable local drug dealer — and going straight to the source in Harlem – at the height of the crack epidemic.

Are you making sure you’re never without your device? Even in meetings? Even at mealtime? Even at bedtime?

Then there’s…not meeting work obligations because of the addiction. The average American spends nearly one quarter of their workday browsing social media for non-work-related activities.

Driving while holding phone

Next are risky activities when under the influence of the drug

Even if you’re not texting-while-driving, you may be swiping- or dialing-while-driving. Think about it. Not able to wait 15 minutes until you get to your destination? You are addicted.

A few more…

  • Secrecy: Going out of one’s way to hide the number of drugs consumed. How often do you hide your screen from someone because you’re a little embarrassed to be spending so much time on Facebook or YouTube?
  • Withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop using the drug: Put your device down for half a day…and listen to your body and mind freak out.
  • Loss of Control: Ever think, “Hey, let me just check my feed or the headlines for a coupla minutes,” and find you’ve gotten lost in your device for…35 minutes?

Uncanny Neurochemical Similarity

My drugs, and our media, both deliver hits of dopamine – the feel-good neurochemical that makes us feel alive. Every time you swipe, get an email, delete an email, get a like on your post – you get a hit of dopamine. And why stop reading my newsfeed after just a few minutes, when I’m getting this delightful stream of dopamine hits?

As digital freedom advocate Tristan Harris said recently in The Atlantic, our apps and websites are engineered to be addictive. He says, “On the other side of your Facebook newsfeed, there are a thousand people whose job it is to break down your self-control.”

Woman takes photo of food

And they’ve succeeded. By exploiting the related reason we are on our gadgets more than we need or want to be: What Cal Newport calls The Principle of Least Resistance. We reach for our gadgets because it’s an easy…. quick…reward.

Finishing that big project will, eventually, be rewarding, but it’s neither easy nor quick. Checking emails feels productive and good now. Easily.

A Summation and an Invitation

To sum up, even if you think addiction is too strong a word here, consider the words of Dr. Stephen Covey, who said, “We are meant to act, not be acted upon.”

And our productivity tools are increasingly acting upon us –turning us into productivity fools.

BUT! When you take back control of your media, the following things happen… You get to sleep earlier.

You have more energy.

Your focus increases.

You get more stuff done.

You have…more…TIME.

Rick Green's Blog about self medication
Medicating Myself – Blog By Rick Green

And if you want to take back control of your media and start crushing procrastination, learn how to get prioritized and manage your time…

My award-winning ADD Crusher™ Program focuses on these and more.

This video/audio “virtual coach” program a set of powerful tools recommended by ADHD coaches the world over to help teens and adults escape the overwhelm and live to their potential.

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A video about addictive behaviour and ADHD medication
Video from TotallyADD about addictive behavior and ADHD

About Alan Brown

An ADHD / productivity coach and host of Crusher™TV (www.CrusherTV.com), Alan P. Brown is the creative force behind ADD Crusher™, the award-winning “virtual coach” video series for ADHD teens and adults.

Undiagnosed for decades, Alan’s untreated ADHD manifested in underachievement, failed relationships, substance abuse, and worse. Once diagnosed, he found it difficult to learn coping strategies from books, so he developed his own evidence-based “brain hack” strategies while building a successful advertising career and several start-ups.

A featured presenter at ADHD conferences in the U.S. and abroad, and a TEDx speaker, he is the #1 best-selling author of Zen and the Art of Productivity. Get Alan’s free eBook, “5 Things You’re Doing Every Day that Make Your ADHD Worse” at www.ADDCrusher.com. 

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