Collage created by Liam Rodney with photo by Gabby K from Pexels
Liam Rodney recounts his struggles with mobile phone addiction and finding a more positive perspective
It’s lockdown and my room is a prison cell, clothes on the floor, a maze of camera cables lying around. I was alone living in my own mess, the days all seemed to blend into one. My motivation and mood dwindling.
As I binge-watched Netflix and TikTok, I could feel my mental health deteriorating. Social media, which had once been a comfort to me, was now consuming all my time. This wasn’t helping.
With more time alone, my social media use shifted from finding creativity and originality to indulging in a culture of fast-paced, addictive, trivial content.
Life is becoming more challenging. A generation of kids who have technology at their fingertips aren’t all happy. Stress, anxiety and depression are on the rise and many young people resort to the escapism that the Internet provides.
During this pandemic, almost every young person has had to adapt to dramatic changes in their education, employment, routine or home life. The Prince’s Trust Tesco Youth Index report for 2021, suggests that young people are feeling worse than ever with over 56% “always” or “often” feeling anxious.
I was becoming very anxious myself with so much uncertainty ahead and I started to put on some weight, comfort eating and not getting out enough to exercise, I guess.
It was as if my phone had hypnotic powers. I’d fall down the rabbit hole and before I knew it, it was 3 am
I knew I could benefit from meditating, that it would help to calm my mind. I also knew how important keeping a good sleep schedule was. But sitting still with nothing to look at was so hard and waking up early was like a dragon I had to fight. Looking at Facebook memes was way more fun than an early night in my opinion.
It was as if my phone had hypnotic powers. I’d fall down the rabbit hole and, before I knew it, it was 3 am and way too late to get a decent night’s sleep.
Almost everybody has had to spend more time alone and it’s easy for bad habits, that seem innocuous at first, to become routine, negatively impacting your wellbeing. Comfort, in my case too much screen time, is a drug. And with too much of it, ambition and creativity die.
I even read articles about how social media was designed to get you addicted. My phone was a slot machine and I was a gambler, looking for my next hit of dopamine through a like or a comment.
With a growing awareness of what made me feel good and what did not, I channelled my difficult feelings and started by cleaning up my room, creating order from chaos. My mental health was slowly improving. My heartbeat was more steady. The fog was clearing.
However, the pull of the net was powerful. YouTube was my first choice and my life was still dominated by podcasts, pranks, and the dopamine high!
The information technology that was once my Achilles heel and had sucked my energy, became a source of strength
Late one night I sat still, no phone or music, just me alone in my room, amongst relatively sorted cables and piles of clothes. I pondered the Bruce Lee poster on my wall. Maybe I could use this extra time alone to my advantage, I thought to myself. Bruce Lee and Joe Rogan were people that I looked up to because of their skills in martial arts, determination and discipline. Maybe I could be more like them?
It was time to make changes. As I listened to Joe Rogan podcasts and watched Bruce Lee videos, I became mindful of their core values and mantras for success. I felt inspired.
Day by day my discipline and drive increased, the information technology that was once my Achilles heel and had sucked my energy, became a source of strength. I had access to a whole world of interesting information at my fingertips.
I started to be much more engaged with what I was watching or listening to. I made choices to stop and mull over inspiring ideas and they’d influence my own thoughts and work, motivating me to do other activities.
I gave up fast food and spending all day on frivolous social media in exchange for getting out of my room to exercise in the park and eating good food, which automatically put my sleep in a better pattern.
A sense of peace slowly washed over me. The Internet, which was once my cage, became a tool for my salvation.
Click here for tips and advice on how to enjoy a more positive time online.
Liam Rodney is a student at Barnet, Southgate college studying Media. He has always loved to jot stuff down to sort out what he thinks and how he feels. Liam has been writing more during lockdown.