Are We Addicted?
I’m not talking about the usual addictions like coffee when I rise or painkillers for the morning- after, or even the immediate antacid relief I reach for more often than I used to.
Today I’m focused on social media and my smartphone. My life partner Sharon tells me I’ve developed a shuffle in my step, a slouch and my head tilts slightly forward when I walk.
At first she was worried that it might be a signal of something creeping up on me. Like old age.
I reassured her it was nothing of the sort. It’s just that I’ve gotten into the habit of watching my cell phone while I walk the dog (roughly five or six miles a day.)
“I can’t help it,” I plead. The kids ping me in the morning when they wake up to see who’s done the Heardle in 1. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, please don’t make the mistake of Googling it, because you will be hooked before you know it.
I’ve already done the New York Times Wordle before I roll out of bed in my daily contest with Sharon. She’s not competitive and I have to hide my own need to do better than her. Then there’s the Nerdl that my daughter got me hooked on. I could go on in terms of e-mail, checking the weather and an assortment of other things I just NEED to know, the moment I think about it.
Much as I know that the number of ”likes” on FaceBook are not a sign of my popularity, why do I need to check my posts regularly? I know the Meta people are trying to addict me, but I get into these grooves that I can’t get out of. Thank goodness I haven’t really figured out Instagram or Tik Tok or I’d be in big trouble. And I really don’t like all the hate-speak on Twitter, with or without Elon.
But I have a far greater confession to make. I have written about all my preparations for my TED talk in previous posts and it finally got posted to YouTube last week. At first I was thrilled. 1,700 views before I did any social media posting (mostly on LinkedIn) to my audience. Then I took a look at one of the other speakers at my conference. Karen X. She had 12,000. What did that mean? Why not me? I remember my mother’s advice. Stop comparing yourself to others.
Is there anyone else out there who never took their mother’s advice?
I’m thinking that it’s like buying a lottery scratch ticket. I may just have to be satisfied with winning another free ticket. It’s not money, but it’s better than nothing. It still delivers the slightest adrenaline rush when I’ve matched three in a row. A win is a win, I rationalize. And so it goes for my opening 1,700 that TED has seeded me. I should not compare myself to others.
So I set to work on my social media campaign. I figured that may drive another couple of thousand viewers to the eighteen minute video. I asked everyone to share it if they like it. But will they? And do they like it?
My mother (just about to turn ninety) loves it but she’s not exactly unbiased and her network is only about six people who actually have the capability of downloading a video.
Yesterday we had tripled to just over 5,000 and as I write this we seem to be doubling yesterday’s number. I use the pronoun “we” since I consider this a team game, rather than as a sign of gender. I can’t do this alone. Are we heading towards going viral? It’s so exciting—but that’s not the point.
I am consulting my smart phone every 30 minutes today, checking the numbers in half hour increments. My happiness is being defined by an algorithm completely out of my control. Sadly I have evolved into that young person I always make fun of. Head in their phone when they cross the street, checking their likes more often than they flip their hands through their hair.
I am an addict. At least for this week. Eventually this will pass and I’ll get back to my next fiction.
By the way, did I mention that I did a TED talk? Of course I did, because it’s all I’m obsessing over today. The subject is Becoming the Person You Can’t Imagine and here is the link.
I hope you enjoy it when you have the spare eighteen minutes and if you like it please share it. My algorithm is depending on you. Remember we are a team.