If you have a phone and live in the 21st century, it’s most likely that you have been down the social media rabbit hole before. A deep, empty hole that gets deeper as you dig mindlessly, completely aware of the speed at which you’re travelling, with no intention of stopping. “Just another 5 minutes of scrolling and then I’ll go do something productive”. Sound familiar?
For me, it’s Instagram. For you, it might be Reddit, or Facebook, or Youtube. Or maybe it’s a few hours of TV watching. Don’t worry; you’re not alone in the guilt-inducing act of mindless browsing. I’m not judging you, you lazy piece of human garbage.
Whatever platform it is that sucks up your little remaining free time and self-worth, the act of seeking a state of ‘mindlessness’ is not a new phenomenon. A combination of full time work, hobbies, social life, let alone the constant onslaught of visual messages received throughout the day, it’s no wonder our brains are seeking a little ‘chill out’ time from the noise of the world. But if you’re anything like me, a media binge will leave you feeling guilt ridden and envious of the people out there who spent there time learning an instrument or completing some wholesome task on their ever-diminishing to do list.
However it is this exact mindset that might be hindering the positive benefits of so called ‘mindlessness’. Perhaps, ironically, we need to be more mindful of our acts of mindlessness. Just take a break and enjoy scrolling for a while. Enjoy watching a trashy show on TV. Go for a walk and let your mind wonder. If you’re putting off a task that is incredibly urgent, then I’m not supposing you justify your procrastination. I’m saying, if you feel like you need some down time, then you can at least give yourself that.
Dr Reinecke, a researcher with the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz in Germany states “I think it would be helpful to reappraise media use: Rather than seeing it as a guilty pleasure, a waste of time and a proof of one’s own self-regulatory failure, it makes sense to also look on the bright side and think of media use as a deserved treat after a long working day and an effective recovery strategy that may help us to be more productive afterwards.”
It’s unlikely we will all delete our social media apps, or switch off our televisions for good. So maybe instead of punishing ourselves for using media as a means of relaxing, we can address our habits and then decide if we want to change them.