Jonesin’ for Likes: Staying Sane on the Internet

Cell phones are not exactly allowed in our bedroom anymore. Since The Problem came to a head in late November, I’ve earned my probation for good behavior. Yet everyday, I’m tiptoeing on very thin ice, and I haven’t quite gotten my footing. The Problem, you may guess, is that I have a wild, lustful, and boundary-less relationship with my iPhone. The device that enhanced my life suddenly became my entertainment, my network, my line of business, my world. Like any obsession, the love affair wasn’t heading for a happy ending. It was a one-way ticket to Crazytown.

Incredible products are most often conceived out of a need, a purpose. But these products really take hold when our basic human instincts are brought into the equation. Today, behind almost any social start-up, there’s a PhD in Behavioral Psychology, building in functionalities that play into the way we’re wired. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter– they all tap into our most non-cognitive behaviors, each “like” delivering a shot of serotonin straight to our pleasure sensors. It’s not our fault it feels good. It’s the reason we continue to search for love, and why we really enjoy having sex- it’s a chemical essential to survival. Everyone loves to feel liked. The feeling is real, because the chemical reaction in your brain is very real.

For someone who’s trying to discover who they truly are (hello, my teens and 20s), downing a cocktail of serotonin mixed with affirmation can, like most things that feel good, be a good and a bad thing. It can lead to new relationships with like-minded people, and opportunities to grow your business. But it also becomes very easy to lean heavily on this sense of affirmation from strangers, especially when things go wrong with your boyfriend, spouse, or work. It’s an escape from reality that feels very, very real.

After talking to friends about my experience, I found I wasn’t alone. It doesn’t matter if your following is 50 or 10 million, having a solid understanding of your values, a network of people who you can trust, and a life outside the digital world is essential in finding happiness and peace within yourself. Smart people do not bite the hand that feeds them. They figure out how to gain the upper hand.

So, in short, here are a couple tips I’ve learned to keep myself sane on the Internet:

1. Lower your expectations for others, and raise them for yourself.
2. No phones in the bedroom. Don’t start or end your day looking at what other people are doing.
3. Finish your morning routine before checking your feeds.
4. Put your phone away when you’re with friends. Focus on being in the moment, with them.
5. If you’re feeling discouraged, share something valuable and authentic. You’ll begin to make meaningful relationships online.
6. Remove toxic people from your feeds. It’s good practice in the real world, and good sense online.
7. Stop comparing your life to others. I promise you, their life is not what their Instagram feed portrays.
8. You’re more transparent than you think. Self-promotion is pretty easy to spot these days.
9. Practice kindness. If you don’t have something nice to say, keep it to yourself.

And lastly…

10. Your following doesn’t define you.

  • Yes, yes, yes, yes, YES! All things my husband and I strive to live by. We are both artists, and when you work in the creative fiend it can be tough not to fall into those comparison games. But comparison only stops you from creating your best, true work…

  • So true and such a good reminder! My husband and I were just talking last night about banning iPhones and iPads from the bedroom. Thanks for reminding me that I’m not alone and that I’m not crazy for wanting to learn how to limit technologies place in my life. 🙂
    Keep keepin it real, lady.

    *Sidenote: I adore your workspace – I grew up in Apple Valley and so Minneapolis/MN is near and dear to my heart (I moved away in 2008) The COMN just looks so inspiring. And I’m also well acquainted with Red Wing since my brother and his famjam live there. – Anyway, thanks for keeping my love for MN alive!

    • Amanda! Thank you so much for your comment. I always love to hear from fellow Minnesotans- it’s special place. Keep fighting the good fight!

  • Oh my gosh, Kate! Thank you thank you thank you. As bloggers, we all want to reach people, connect with others, but some people who have “made it big” just by starting their blog need to remember that last one. All of your tips are ao wonderful, and I will be trying to follow them to see how things go. I have a routine check before I go to bed, and seem to do it as soon as I wake up…even before my first cup of coffee. I want to unplug, but also stay connected and your tips really allow us to do that.

    Thank you again for this!

  • BEAUTIFUL advice, Kate. I’m sending this to all the girls I know and love, especially the young ones who have their world at their fingertips but way too many temptations to not trust their own flawed but beautiful journey.

  • ~ Spot On ~ everything in moderation ! Apparently having cellphones, laptops etc in bedroom or on person at ‘ all ‘ times is unhealthy ‘ physically too ‘ unsure if science is correct, yet best to stay on the side of caution ! ; ) ps: I saw a recent vid: SO worth the watch for ‘ everyone ‘ , YouTube, Gary Turk: Look Up

  • I couldn’t agree more, and this is something that I need to practice and remind myself of OFTEN. A few years back I made an observation about my mood and outlook after looking at my facebook feed. It was not doing anything to uplift my life, and in fact quite often put me in a sour mood. After deleting my Facebook, I felt a weight off my shoulders! And now to address… the pinterest addiction. One I have yet to get a good grasp on, but I’ve noticed myself becoming desensitized to beautiful things in the real world because they are a ‘dime a dozen’ online. Moderation is the key. Your real life experience and meaningful relationships should be the biggest influence on your life. Thank you, as always, for your thoughtful words.

    • Kelly, I totally can relate to feeling desensitized to beauty in the real world. I think it may even be fatigue! Thank you for sharing your experience! Happy to have you as a reader 🙂

  • those are really good guidelines! i def put away my phone when i am with my family or friends. i make it a point now. and no cell phone in my bed and i don’t check email until I get into work. Its hard, but I think its worth it. more people time and less iphone time.

    thanks for the reminders kate!

  • LOVE LOVE LOVE the last 10 points. I 100% agree with all of them and I actually just watched a youtube video created to inspire people to put their phone down. I find it so rude when I’m with someone and they’re on their phone the entire time. It gets under my skin every time!

  • Cheers to this post! This is something I’m trying to get better at as well. Slowly I am removing myself from my need to “see or know” what others are up to and focusing on my time on truly being with them. It’s amazing how meaningful simple gestures become when you are paying attention to those around you vs online. Thanks for the reminder!

  • this post came at an eerily amazing time. thank you for sharing this because it is so true. <3

    ps. LOVE the no phones in the bedroom rule, a must-try!

  • This is a brilliant post. It’s so easy to get caught up in the online world. I think the threat is especially potent for lifestyle bloggers. I have a tendency to think that because the business I’m attempting to grow revolves around my lifestyle, that gives me the green light to use social media where ever, when ever. I’m definitely going to start sleeping with my phone out of my bedroom, and hopefully not touch it until I am ready for the day 🙂 Amazing post! xx

    The What’s In Between

  • As someone who has met you, Kate, a couple different times but who you don’t know super well, you are always on your phone. Even after complimenting you, you wouldn’t look up from your phone. Maybe your phone rule should extend beyond the bedroom so you can join us out here in the real world. It’s not so bad.

    • Hi Shelby,

      I feel terrible you had that experience. It’s completely uncharacteristic of me to snub someone or ignore them after they’ve paid me a compliment– I must have been deeply distracted, and for that I apologize. I most certainly did not intend to be rude, and your comment has given me something to consider.


  • Thanks for posting, I think about this a lot especially the part with phone with friends. So often I am trying to catch up with people who are trying to catch up with facebook. It can be a downer.

    Great post. x

  • I saw this inspiring and eye opening video called “look up”. I have a feeling a lot have seen it and I hope it changes peoples perspectives. I doubt you have a problem but many in this day and age can’t put their phones down to save their life. That’s what the video addresses.

    I still go on Instagram far too much but when you first start blogging, you want to be a noticed and heard immediately (which usually takes months or years). I always justify my “addiction” to wanting to grow my audience and draw traffic to my blog. I loved reading your post and now I know now I’m not the only one using social media too much. Thanks for opening up and sharing great ways to disengage from social media.

  • Good reminder. I had the no phone in bedroom rule for awhile but I always end up breaking it. Maybe it’s time to enforce it again 🙂 I also like rule #5 a lot. It’s sometimes hard for me to be completely open online because it makes me feel so exposed, but I always appreciate it so much when others do it. I guess I just need to get over it. Thanks for the post!

  • This is SUCH a good post. I need to apply the bedroom rule no only to me but my bf also, he’s just as bad as me! Your advice here is bang on.

  • Oh I can so relate to this post. I already read it twice. I also have my iphone all day in my hands. And sometimes I’m not even recognizing that I have opened instagram – already for the 100 time in 30 minutes. I’m just practicing to stay off. Because although is quite time wasting activity, it’s also so super rude to people who are mostly around us. So my iPhone is also banished from the bedroom.

  • i love all of these points!

    i have been seriously considering not keeping my phone in the bedroom, and i must say the only thing holding me back is thinking that i would want it in case of an emergency . i know the odds are low, but i just feel safer with my phone next to my bed. like many people i don’t have a land line. i’d love to hear anyone else’s thoughts on this!

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  • This is so refreshing, thanks for being so honest Kate! A while ago I decided to stop reading emails in the evening and weekends and it makes me far more focused on Monday morning and allows me to have down time at weekends. And I really liked your pointers, constantly comparing your life and work to others is just exhausting, no good can come of it. Thanks for the tips for a sane life! X

    • No emails at night is an excellent idea. I’ve actually decided to dedicate an hour in the morning and in the afternoon to tackle any daily emails. I use to try to keep up on my iphone throughout the day, it was a total disaster. Good tips!! thank you 🙂

  • Great post! And it’s true you shouldn’t check your phone in the early mourning and nights. Enjoy your coffee in the mourning instead of looking at your phone or tablet right everyone l0l?! Enjoy!