I always thought that people who needed an external blocker to make them stop Googling or looking at Facebook had no discipline and no willpower. Couldn’t they just tell themselves, “I’m not going to look at Facebook today?”
Yeah, that’s what I used to think until I’d “come to” hunched over my keyboard scrolling, scrolling…
And then, last week I saw my weekly summary of social media usage.
Before the COVID -19 quarantine I was using more than two hours a day. That was pretty shocking.
Two hours is a lot of time. It is time to write or exercise or time to spend with my husband.
Then as we moved into the into COVID quarantine my daily usage jumped to 4 hours. That is almost half of my waking time.
It really shocked me. I recognized the signs: I wanted to stop. I said I’d stop. “I won’t do that again tomorrow” I promised myself. It was an addiction. I needed help to stop.
So I wrote myself reminders and I put a sticky note on my laptop screen to remind myself. But I would still take a “quick peek” at Instagram and then five minutes became 25 minutes.
I asked a writer friend if she used an ap blocker and she told me about the ap called Freedom. I took the plunge. Last week I installed Freedom on my phone.
Now I can choose what to block and for how many hours. When the Freedom ap is engaged I can’t access my favorites: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. If I try to look at Twitter when Freedom is engaged it just spins and I get a message that says, “Tweets are not loading right now.” Dam. It works. So, I move on.
So, at the same time that I’m adjusting my social media behavior with the help of the Freedom Ap blocker I’m aware again of a longstanding, painful habit of perseverating, persistent thoughts that race around in my head, and make me miserable.
The thoughts are in two categories: “What is wrong with me” and “I’m gonna tell her.” The “her” could be a him or a her but always someone I am annoyed with or made at or—yes ugh—jealous of. You know those voices.
And I thought, “What if I could turn off those thoughts like I turn off social media?” Huh.
What if I could install a resentment blocker in my brain to shut down my fear thoughts and resentment thoughts and those long internal conversations that go like this, “Well if she does that then I am going to say this, but if she replies with that, then I will…” They are like little plays that are excruciatingly painful and distracting.
The weird thing about these imaginary mental scripts is that they are full of things I would never actually say, but I rehearse them and repeat them as If I am the boldest, bad ass in the world.
What if I had a Freedom blocker for my mind?
I pictured what that would be like. My mind would try to go to a fight, jealousy or resentment. It would try to make me angry, envious, or resentful, but it would stall out. That little spinning wheel of hell we see on our computer would spin.
I could choose the “people in my head” that I wanted to block for one day when I want some mental freedom or block those voices for four hours when I want to have a nice evening with my sweetheart—when I want to be present, fully present.
What if I could us this new mental ap to block my coworkers for the weekend or my mother-in-law for the day before we go to her house—that’s when I do my worst obsessing about what she is “probably going to say” but rarely ever does.
I love imagining this blocker. My “mental freedom ap”. I’d try to worry, or maybe I’d try to stir up some fear or envy, and I’d feel the urge but then --just like with real social media—I’d see the little wheel spinning, the little dots hovering in place and it might say, “resentments are not loading right now.” It just wouldn't let me go there.
It would be like my mind was saying, “No, you can’t access your fear and anger right now. Please come back later.”
I’d make a lot with the thought-stopping Freedom ap. And I bet it would be a bestseller.