Are You Addicted to Social Media?

Do you refresh Facebook fifteen times an hour to track the likes on your status? It’s likely the answer is yes. In some way or another many of us have become slightly (or not so slightly) obsessed with the social media feedback loop. While it may seem like a sign of the times, it’s actually just another way we reinforce a desperate need to feel good enough. Social media has offered us a new way to anesthetize a deep-rooted feeling of lack: the more likes we get, the better we feel.

But what happens when the “like” button isn’t pushed or the retweets just don’t happen? Then what? A social media meltdown, maybe? Do you experience an unconscious sense of self-lack, uncertainty about your last post or (worst of all), do you spend the next hour refreshing your page for some semblance of positive reinforcement?

If this resonates with you, trust that you’re not alone. Remember that last scene of The Social Network? Even Mark Zuckerberg refreshes his page for feedback.

I too have struggled with the social media feedback loop. Early in my career as a author, speaker and dot-com entrepreneur, it became super clear to me that social media was the most powerful way to carry my message to the masses. I worked up an unhealthy obsession with it: my boyfriend would ban me from posting during dinner, and my mom could only get in touch by tweeting at me. At the time, I didn’t perceive it as an issue. Thousands of folks were liking my fan page and retweeting my posts — it was heaven for my ego.

Then, one afternoon, I noticed myself wasting an hour watching my Twitter feed and Facebook fan page for positive feedback. As a self-help book author and Spirit Junkie, I found this behavior quite alarming. I turned away from the screen and said out loud, “Uh-oh, I’m addicted to social media feedback.”

Rather than beat myself up or deny the reality of my obsession I chose to work towards creating a more balanced relationship with my online status. I’m a big fan of thirty day plans so I put myself on a social media detox. No, I didn’t shut down my twitter page or deny my fans. I did quite the opposite. I continued to post as frequently as before but I made a thirty day commitment to ignore the Retweets and seriously lay off the likes. I dedicated a half hour a day to respond to my fans and monitored my twitter correspondence.

Remember, the issue was not social media. In fact, I love social media and am endlessly grateful for the service it provides. This was an issue of self-esteem and a deep-rooted need to feed my ego through other people’s positive reinforcement. The hours I spent seeking feedback from my fans were hours wasted on a false belief that some number of comments or RT’s would make me feel any better than I already did. But when I backed off from this positive feedback loop, I cleared space for self-love and self-soothing. For a month, I meditated and affirmed my sense of self-worth instead of frantically checking my notifications. I deepened my connection to my own inner spirit by putting the kibosh on my social media feedback obsession.

This thirty-day practice did me good. A month of daily repetition broke me of the obsessive pattern and enhanced my sense of self-worth. When I no longer cared about responses, I could spend more time focusing on sharing what I honestly felt rather than what I thought might get the most RT’s. Ironically, this practice increased my social graph. Without even trying, I grew my fan page by 1,500 members in thirty days and got more impressions on Twitter than I’d ever had before.

Once I placed my social media strategy on sharing great content rather than wowing my audience, I shifted the energy behind my correspondence with my fans. When I was looking for feedback, the energy behind my tweets and posts was needy and manipulative. But when I started tweeting for Twitter’s sake, the energy was clear and released. Energy is in everything — even in your Twitter feed.

If you too are a social media feedback junkie, consider my 30-day practice. Get honest about your behavior, commit to lay off the “refresh” button, and clear space to share honest content rather than some canned comment that you think might get a ton of activity. Enhance your self-worth from the inside out and shine light on the Twittersphere.

By Gabrielle Bernstein, Author of Spirit Junkie.

For Gabrielle’s free Spirit Junkie guided meditation Click Here.

Gabrielle Bernstein is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Universe Has Your Back, and has written five additional bestsellers. She was featured on Oprah’s SuperSoul Sunday as a "next-generation thought leader," and The New York Times named her "a new role model." She appears regularly as an expert on The Dr. Oz Show and co-hosted the Guinness World Record largest guided meditation with Deepak Chopra.Gabby is the creator of the Miracle Membership, a first-of-its-kind monthly subscription that helps people stay committed to their spiritual practices. Her flagship course, Spirit Junkie Masterclass, empowers people to awaken their confidence and live their purpose.Gabrielle has been on an international speaking circuit since 2004. She has presented lectures at Google, TEDx Women, Oprah's SuperSoul Sessions, The Chopra Center, The Omega Institute, L’Oreal, Philosophy and The Huffington Post, among many other notable organizations.Gabrielle is a certified Kundalini yoga and meditation teacher. She is also trained in the Emotional Freedom Technique and she's a student of Transcendental Meditation, as taught by the David Lynch Foundation.YouTube chose Gabrielle as one of its 16 YouTube Next Video Bloggers. Mashable included her in its list of 11 Must-Follow Twitter Accounts for Inspiration. Forbes called her one of the 20 Best-Branded Women.Gabrielle is a regular guest on The Dr. Oz Show and has contributed to or been featured in media outlets such as SuperSoul Sunday, Today, CNN, Home & Family, Fox & Friends, PBS, Kathie Lee and Hoda, Access Hollywood, OWN's Help Desk, The New York Times Sunday Styles section, Teen Vogue, ELLE, InStyle, Marie Claire, Health, SELF, Women’s Health, Glamour, The Sunday Times UK, People, The Wall Street Journal, The Thrive Global podcast, Lewis Howes' School of Greatness, Bulletproof Radio and many more. Gabrielle has also been on the covers of Experience Life and Self-Made magazines; the latter named her one of the top 50 women in business.Gabrielle is on the steering committee for Philosophy's Hope and Grace Initiative and a lululemon Global Yoga Ambassador.