Social media, digital connectedness, and managing healthy relationships with our smart devices are crucial skills for the 21st century. Today, I sat down with Bennett Heyn to discover how he spends time offline while embracing digital connectedness.
Question: How has social media led you to be more self-critical and how have you overcome that obstacle?
Bennett: As a teen, I often stay in touch with my friends over social media and text messaging. Social Media messaging is difficult for me because I can’t easily read facial expressions or understand what they are thinking. Sometimes, social media has led me to feel anxious or sad. For example, when I send someone a Snapchat and they open it but don’t reply, I would feel down about myself and think I did something wrong. Social media has led to me being more self-critical and judgmental of myself.
I overcame this obstacle by reframing negative thoughts & practicing self-compassion. When we feel threatened, our minds assume we are in danger and so our bodies react with anxious, angry, or depressed feelings to avoid or confront the danger. So, I have been training my body to change how I react when I feel threatened.
First, I picture a scene of myself atop a mountain and I tell myself, “Hey, I understand what you are going through. You are caring, kind, and understanding. It will be ok.”
This self-compassion exercise has significantly reduced the amount of anxiety I feel.
Bennett’s Case Studies of Self-Criticism vs Compassion:
I had two different final interviews this year. The first was with SeatGeek. In the interview, I was flustered and kept internally criticizing myself because of the little things I said. After the interview ended, I berated myself and said: “Well, I kinda messed that up and won’t get it.” I heard that I did not get that internship position.
Before my final interview with Adobe, I used a self-compassion exercise. I thought of myself standing on the peak of a mountain. I was happy/proud because I made it far in the interview process. I also felt caring and self compassionate because I realize not everything works out. I had the interview and afterward; I complimented myself and harnessed the power of self-compassion. A few weeks later, I got an internship offer from Adobe.
Question: What is your daily average screen time usage & is it too much?
Bennett: I spend a daily average of 5 hours on my iPhone. This seems excessive, but the average American spends 5.4 hours a day on their phone. I spend a lot of my time listening to music from YouTube as I work, and I spend a few hours scrolling through Tik Tok. As an influencer, I want to make sure I create quality content and engage with my followers.
However, I often put my phone away when working on school assignments. It’s important to make sure my phone is not a distraction when I am working on school & business.
Question: What’s a surprising way you practice mindfulness that doesn’t include any digital media?
Bennett: Great question! One thing I do is keep a journal every day which comprises my routine, thoughts, & feelings. Some days, the journal task feels tedious, but on some days it feels inspiring & refreshing. I find it to be just the right amount of focus to calm me down while not being so strenuous as to require copious amounts of effort.
Question: What are your favorite activities that make you disconnect from technology?
I love Hiking, Biking, and lifting weights in my free time. These activities allow me to explore nature, grow as a person, and have fun. I usually exercise for an hour or more each day.
I want to express my gratitude to Bennett for sharing more about his experiences dealing with social media and technology. Please share how you unplug & recharge in the comments below.