Lauren Wong | The Poly Post

The Tik Tok Tic

By Andre Davancens, May 2, 2023

Ring ring, ring ring. I wake to the blaring sound of my alarm; I roll over to silence it for the fifth time as I get ready to get out of my bed and start my day. I open my phone to clear the notification from my alarm app and am greeted by a flurry of notifications across all the social media apps I have. 

I scroll through the notifications, clearing the unimportant ones, check my email and then I tap a DM from a close friend. Opening a DM sends me down a rabbit hole of scrolling as my waking mind is overloaded with information.  

Ever since the release of TikTok in 2016, shortform media has taken social media by storm, with most major social media platforms emulating a similar style of content. Instagram has reels, YouTube has shorts and; at every turn there’s a short video peddled to you designed with an addicting algorithm ready to suck you in. 

Short form content and clips prey on the ever-increasing number of people with ADHD. As someone with ADHD, at times I feel trapped in a social media bubble of stimulation.  

Fidgeting has been replaced by my phone. The subtle tics I used to express have been replaced by reaching for my phone and tapping the rainbow polaroid that takes me straight to Instagram, where my senses are bombarded. 

This isn’t an issue unique to me. Simply take a look around the next time you walk around campus and watch as everyone walks by buried in their phones, barely paying attention. As I bike around campus, I find myself having to dodge around people sauntering like zombies, tied to their phones with no perception of the world past the screen. 

It wasn’t until recently that I started to get frustrated by this. I was content with the omnipresent reality of social media in our daily lives. I slowly started to get conscious of the effects that social media had on my life, the grip it held on my brain. Now, I get upset when I catch myself reaching for my phone to occupy my time rather than do something productive or genuinely fun. 

Small, time wasting hobbies have slowly been replaced by social media. Why reach for a pen and paper when my cellphone is more accessible and easier to use? Why should I put the effort into moving more than my fingers when that’s all I need to do to be entertained for hours?  

I started to realize that I would autopilot to my phone whenever I was bored in the slightest. Even as I write this, I find my hand and eyes wanting to drift to my phone to just check out what’s going on. I’m addicted to social media, stuck in a positive feedback loop that keeps me wanting to scroll. 

It’s not completely grim though — there are solutions. Simply putting my phone out of sight snaps my focus to attention. The sight of the phone and what hides behind its dormant screen is the temptation that drives my racing brain to fall into its speed trap. 

Social media, by nature, requires a connection to the internet. It uses this connection to wire itself into your consciousness and distract you from the real world. While I don’t go into nature to escape social media, it has become a habitual detox I use weekly, whether it’s a drive up one of the local mountains or a hike through them. Being surrounded by the beauty of nature and the disconnection from society and the internet, I feel at peace. I feel like me again. 

Lauren Wong | The Poly Post

Tik Tok, Instagram, YouTube and other social media platforms that support shortform content are here to stay. Social media has become an integral part of our daily lives and there’s no way to change that. Social media has made us the most connected we’ve ever been with others, but the most disconnected with ourselves. 

I’m not saying to drop social media. I know that I never could. Instead, find a distraction from the distraction.  

Going to a commuter school, I know that for many of us it’s difficult to find ways to stay entertained between our class, so we default to social media. Try and find a new default, find a space on campus or nearby that you can just relax in. Join a club, explore the campus and get involved. 

As finals loom over our heads, it’s easy to fall back on our habits. Take a second to breathe and disconnect. Close the laptop, put the phone down, close the textbook and go find something else to occupy your mind. 

Feature image by Lauren Wong

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