Where, When, and How to (Compulsively) Check Social Networks

In the bathroom: Realize you’ve substituted your smartphone for the bottle of toothpaste you used to be perfectly entertained reading. Feel slightly mature. Try to take advantage of the ‘emptiness’ of time spent in the porcelain sanctuary, and keep in mind the trope that toilets are epiphany machines. Feel like your mind is clearer, and start noticing the irony and genius of the contributors to your feeds. Laugh out loud at a clever Tweet that you wouldn’t normally react to. Begin to appreciate the manmade intellectual stimulator, for forcing you to sit down with only your smartphone to distract you, and really allow you to think. Eventually realize that this is where your best updates and ideas materialize. Consider spending more time in the bathroom.

While walking around campus: On dreary days, convince yourself you’re suffering from seasonal affective disorder, and that escaping to your 3.5” LCD paradise is the only viable coping strategy. Know it doesn’t make things better. Only notice updates posted by friends studying in exotic countries, and the incessant promotions of Jersey Shore cast members you ironically “liked” a while back. Feel genuinely hip when checking your apps on sunny days – like your phone is a nice harmless substitute for people watching.

Always bury your head in social networking apps when walking toward an acquaintance, who it would be unacceptable to acknowledge until they are between five and fifteen feet away from you. Say, “Sup?” and start actually paying attention to your feeds, relieved.

At parties: Feel a tingling sensation in your thumb, begging you to refresh your feeds during every awkward moment. Feel a strong inclination to whip out your phone during any silence that lasts over ~1.5 seconds. Find that you can usually fight the urge, but instinctually check FB and Twitter when conversations cease and you’re unsure of whom to mingle with next. Assume people think you’re finagling a one-night stand, or finding a better party (or drugs). Be pleased they don’t know you’re looking for affirmation that other people in the world are saying something, anything, about their nights out. Need something to validate the social commentary going through your head, and the lack of substance at the party. Come back to reality, disappointed.

While eating alone or with others: Perusing social networks at the dinner table is a great way to passive-aggressively show your peers how uninteresting you find them. Be aware of this, and feel self-conscious about using your phone around people at meals. As soon as the conversation goes awry, or gets awkward as hell, let your phone make its appearance – seemingly on its own accord. Don’t resist escaping the present and the banter that’s coming along with it. Know it’s pretty damn rude, regardless of the fact that it’s common practice these days. Assume that most people think you’re texting, which is probably frowned upon even more than checking social networks.

When eating alone in a public area, immerse yourself in social networks (or books/schoolwork) to prevent being overly aware of what’s going on around you. Make sure you’re also unaware of your leg spasms and how much more than usual you have to pay attention to the physical processes of eating. Be a lot more concerned than usual about making eye contact with strangers. It’s much more acceptable to stare at a phone than to fully enjoy your meal. Don’t be that weird-ass loner staring off into space.

Before classes/meetings: Become exceedingly uncomfortable in silent rooms full of your peers, but notice that literally everyone is distracting themselves via phones/computers or gazing thoughtlessly at class notes. Find the silence Intolerable – do anything you can to divert your attention from it. Feel a little elitist for checking something (relatively) of substance while most of your classmates appear to be navigating through menus or playing games on their phones. Secretly hope that someone sees what you’re looking at (or better yet, your Twitter handle) and expresses interest in it. Know that it probably won’t ever happen.

Be weary that social networking in class can result in an at-reply or Facebook message conversation that you’re obligated to continue throughout the lecture. Know it will really piss your professor off, whether he acknowledges it or not. Consider turning off your phone and laptop in classes.

While procrastinating: Procrastinating is an extremely mentally straining time, especially when there’s a computer around. If Twitter is open in a different tab, check it every time a “(1)” pops up. If it isn’t open, try your hardest to fight the urge to navigate to it every 10 seconds to five minutes. Type “Faceb” instinctually every time you open a new tab, regardless of what site you originally intend to visit. Complete your work in little bursts, and in between those bursts check feeds, e-correspond, and read articles. Be unaware that the more things you expose yourself to that are actually interesting while procrastinating, the more catastrophically dispassionate you become in the task at hand. It’s a vicious cycle of academic disinterest and (a spoiled) jealously of people without the responsibility of menial schoolwork. Confidently blame your lack of motivation on the existence of Facebook and Twitter.

Before Bed: Checking Twitter and Facebook before sleeping is the 20-something equivalent to checking for monsters under the bed. As soon as you get the urge to check your feeds, try to fight it. Quickly realize you have no chance at falling asleep knowing you might be missing something interesting. Ignore that you’re too fatigued to obtain any information. Subconsciously tell yourself that the most valuable updates can occur at any time. Disregard that you checked your feeds ~2 minutes ago, after brushing your teeth, putting down your book, or turning your computer off. Feel your mind violently awaken when you feel the compulsion – understand that fighting it is futile. Don’t realize that it’s almost masochistic, and the screen’s going to be bright as hell. When the LCD hits your eyes, make a facial expression similar to Sloth from The Goonies (one eye barely squinting, the other shut, mouth slightly open, facial muscles extremely tense). Briefly question your dependency on the Internet. Fall asleep. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

image – iStockPhoto.com

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