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How I Learned to Defeat the Self-Sabotage of Social Media

Could I tap into the root cause of declining business, relationships, and mental well-being? What an Eagle and Crow taught me about mental health.

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March 2020 The Pandemic is real.

Within the next 60 days, my anger had become noticeably stronger, my conversations more abrupt, and my business plummeted. As much as I put on a happy face and a positive attitude, the results were the same.

I felt lousy.

More importantly, I caught myself snapping and judging my family. We’ve had plenty of lively political debates over the dinner table in years past, where we all shared different opinions. And, we never had a problem playing a game of cards a few minutes after dinner. Smiles and laughter returned to the table in a New York minute.

What changed?

I had never snapped so quickly and so often at my family in my entire life. I had to uncover the root cause of this change. I could not blame the Pandemic, mind you. I did not have the virus, and none of my family did at the time. So, it can’t affect my attitude. Nor could I blame the TV or mainstream media, as I had given up on what is today called “News” after Walter Cronkite passed away.

What was causing my angst?

I took an extended bike ride into nature one day, and after about 2 and a half hours, I was washed over by a brand new feeling, and most importantly, I had uncovered the reason for my anxiety and mild outbursts. As I gazed upon the forest along a winding bike path in Charleston, South Carolina, I noticed a bald eagle battling for a meal with a couple of smaller crows. After about 2 minutes of this majestic aerial battle, the eagles left, and the territorial crows remained next to their pond.

The crows, known for their intelligence, preened their feathers and went about their day. This was their world. This was their territory. Not only do these birds not watch the News, but they had no clue about the Pandemic, lockdowns, or a world population gripped in fear of the unknown.

They were blissfully unaware of our world.

What would it take for me to embrace a similar state? What could I do? Who were the eagles in my life that had not only disrupted my moment but left behind the negative energy of the encounter?
In the crow’s case, like me, they never watched the News. And even though someone tried to steal their food and invaded their home, they retained no apparent disdain or anxiety over the encounter. They were just crows. They were in their world. They were only aware of their own bubble.

Could I create a similar bubble?

I hypothesized the source of my anxiety and declining relationships with social media. Sure, I’m not a watcher of television. However, like most millennials (full disclosure, I am way past that age), I was still plugged into the social media stream of chatter. I have friends who embrace a wide variety of beliefs and leanings. I even pride myself on reading both sides (positive and negative) regarding our rapidly changing world.

But something was different.

Even though I read a wide range of ideas, my anxiousness and disgust increased. It did not matter if I agreed or disagreed with what I was reading. The content or opinion was irrelevant. Even when I read something more aligned to my personal belief system, I was still ticked off. The entire ecosystem was pulling me down.

Not only was I snapping judgmentally to my family, but my business was suffering… badly.

I asked out loud as if waiting for the answer, “What if I created my own bubble.. what would that be like?” Could I really disconnect from it all? Would I be able to function if I became 100% blissfully unaware like those birds in nature?

I knew this would not be easy, however. The gamification of social media has rewired our DNA. Studies have been done on the chemical imbalance and anxiety created when we are out of touch with our phones for even a few minutes. The developers of our social media and mobile devices are geniuses at drawing us back into their platforms, even if we vow to take a break.

Like many people, I was literally addicted.

Just as an addict who checks into rehab, I had to force myself to resist temptation. Before I got home, I deleted every social media app and messenger from my phone. I emailed my social media manager the moment I got back from my bike ride. “Ken, I want you to change my password and not give it to me for at least 30 days.” I had cut the cord, and there was no going back. What happened next was, unsurprisingly, bliss.

  1. My attitude and energy noticeablly improved.
  2. My friends commented I seemed happier.
  3. My family relationships went back to normal.
  4. My business bounced back. By the end of the year we had grown 300% from 2019.

Oh… and I still have no idea what is happening in Georgia, with the vaccine distribution or the trial of some policeman. I am confident if I must know something, someone will let me know personally.

Am I out of touch with the world?

Well, that depends on which world you are referring to. If you are referring to the world of mankind, the United States, or Washington, DC, the answer is yes. I am out of touch with that world.

What about you? Are you in touch with the world of nature, trees, birds, and a sun that rises and sets on the beautiful horizon of your home?

I feel very comfortable working in one world–focusing on serving my clients, family, and friends.
I am more comfortable and emotionally healthy, embedding my spirit, energy, and attitude in the other world.

The world of nature; where life just is.

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