Nicola Mostyn’s handy stop-smeeding guide

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It’s anti-social and unhealthy. It’s the first thing you do when you wake up and the last thing you do at night. You probably believe you could quit anytime, you secretly think it makes you look cool and you do it a lot more when you’re drunk.

I refer, dear readers, not to smoking, but to our latest addiction, social-media-ing, or smeeding for short.

Recent studies reveal that habitual smeeding can be bad for our mental health and happiness. In future decades sites will probably come with a government health warning. So, if you’re going to give up something for 2016, why not make it this?

Here are some handy guidelines to help you quit for good.

Make a promise, set a date and stick to it. Don’t be put off by a wedding, a party or any other time when you’d normally be tempted to smeed, like breakfast or when you saw that funny-looking pigeon from the bus window.

Break associations. If you associate smeeding with your morning coffee or your commute into work then still enjoy your coffee/commute and instead of thinking “I can’t smeed now”, simply think “Isn’t it great that I can enjoy this moment without being party to a friend of a friend’s casual racism.”

Remember, smeeding does absolutely nothing for you at all. It simply keeps you addicted – a slave to attention and approval.  You don’t need to spend five minutes crafting a tweet about a cream cheese bagel. You don’t need to know which Star Wars character you are. You don’t need to read any more inspirational quotes. You don’t need to offer opinions on a global situation you don’t understand. You don’t need to find the panda. You don’t need to be reminded of that thing your friend did three years ago that you didn’t give a shit about then, either.

Expect withdrawal. You may suffer some physical symptoms at first, including significant anxiety as you worry about missing out. Here simply remind yourself that social media is filled with braggers, humble-braggers, passive-aggressive drama queens and pictures of people’s cats, and you should start to experience a pleasant sense of wellbeing.

Don’t avoid smeeding situations. Go out! Enjoy yourself! When you see people photographing their cappuccino in sepia, pouting with cocktails for selfies and updating their status to let everyone know what a great time they’re having, pity the smeeders, for they wish they could be like you: free from the whole filthy nightmare. If someone offers to tag, befriend or follow you, just say “No thanks – I don’t smeed”, rather than getting into a conversation about how long it has been since you stopped smeeding.

Not One Post, ever (NOPE). Never be fooled into thinking you can upload the odd photo or check what your friends are up to, just to be sociable or to get over a difficult moment. You’re either a smeeder or you’re not. And you’re not, are you? No. Are you? No. You’re not. (You can’t take a Buzzfeed quiz on it.)

Don’t use substitutes. There’s no point giving up Facebook but replacing it with Instagram, Twitter or Tumblr – this simply keeps the addiction to smeeding alive. If you must continue to communicate every thought the instant it occurs, try sharing it by phone and see how many “likes” you get.

Think positive. You might have given up before, but tell yourself that this time, you’re really going to do it, if only because eschewing social media means you won’t have to listen to any of those Dry January bores.


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