Your Phone Addiction Is a Codependent Relationship
A simple framework for changing any negative behavior
I’ve been hooked on every vice you can imagine: booze, cocaine, junk food, porn, sex, cigarettes. You name it, and I’ve indulged in it to excess. I’ve also — at least temporarily — quit all those vices. But one of the toughest things I’ve ever tried to quit was something most of us don’t think of as a vice at all: Instagram.
Before I became a life coach, I was an editor at a well-known men’s fashion magazine, and as such, I was a heavy user. I regularly took photos of clothes and posted them, then @’d myself to the company’s audience of several million followers. Every time the likes piled up, I got really, really high. Nearly all of us have experienced how powerful that warm rush of dopamine is — the feeling when a photo we’ve sent into the digital ether returns decorated with comments, encouragements, heart emojis.
Instagram hits us right smack in the deepest recesses of our egos. So even though we’ve known, or at least had a feeling, that our ever-growing reliance on our smartphones over the last decade has become problematic — even when there are rehab centers that specialize in social media addiction, even when Netflix’s hit The Social Dilemma includes a mea culpa from the guy who created the “Like” button, even when we recoil at babies having their own Instagram accounts — we can’t stop using them.
Instagram, in particular, feeds on the needy — the deeper our craving for approval, the more powerful the app is. And it wasn’t long before the app was dictating my life: I took only the most Instagrammable trips and dated only the most Instagrammable women. I spent my savings on an Instagrammable house and renovated it and decorated it just so. You would think that at some point, as I obsessed over which rug, couch, and matching Japanese incense bowls would garner the most Likes, I would have noticed that something felt, well, crazy. But the urge to keep the validation coming was relentless.
It’s only as I look back on it now that I realize I spent those years missing the joy of all the beauty around me. I was too busy staring into the screen of my iPhone, trying to catch the perfect streak of sunlight on my vintage Danish chair, showing off yet…