The Little Monsters

Kaitlin Creeger

         I had just deleted all my social media apps and the tiny monster called Addiction prodded my brain with irrationality, screaming at me for being so stupid, so careless.

          Realizing it is not working, it tries to help me rationalize reality.

          The voice of Addiction has been nothing but air. It has no face and no body, but it has will and determination to get its way. So, when it speaks after I committed such a horrendous crime, it tells me this: “It’s all right. You can always reinstall them. But you should do it now. Can’t you see your friends are missing you right now? Imagine all the texts, all the interactions you could be having with complete total strangers!”

          I almost give in. “No. This is for your own good,” I tell it.

          “But then why are you regretting the decision?” tempted Anxiety. Where Addiction is seen as strong and brute, Anxiety is gentle but a pest. “Addiction is right. You are missing out so much.”

          I shake my head. “Cut it out. I do not need social media.”

          “Liar,” they say in unison.

          I sigh. Addiction and Anxiety poke my brain, demanding going back to what I am used to, not this terrifying abyss I have put all of us through.

          A day goes by.

          “You can’t hold on forever,” Addiction chimes in. “Look at that YouTube app! All shiny red and calling out your name. You know you want to make yourself happy, so go watch some gaming videos. Come on, just a tiny little one?”

          Anxiety cannot help but overhear. “You are making yourself stressed and it is making us stressed. Please go back to normal. I cannot bear the tragedy of this change! I think I might die if we keep going!”

          Their will grows powerful by the second day. They beckon at me and deals start to be forged. Addiction is the first to strike me a deal. It tells me only a few hours and all will be better, it will listen to my authority afterwards. Anxiety agrees, telling me it would make me better than I am now.

          I consider it as I stare at my phone.

          And I take the bait.

          When I come to, I am exhausted. “What battle did you two put me through?” I complain, shutting off my phone.

          The next morning, Addiction speaks to me. “Don’t you feel better. I sure do. And look! Anxiety is only in a fretful sleep. She is much calmer now. Can we watch some horror videos now that you are awake?”

          I reach for my phone then pull back. “I’m not so sure. You said you would listen to me now, and we should not keep going down this route. I feel awful from yesterday.”

          “Nonsense. If I am happy, you are happy. Win-win situation!”

          “No. This was not part of the—”

          Anxiety wakes up. “You seriously think you can function throughout the day realizing all you are missing? Your grades will plummet.”

          I groan. “You are not in—”

          “You will get even more depressed. You need more endorphins than what little you get from exercise and writing. Just one video. Ten minutes on Instagram. Come on,” Addiction begs.

          “You know it won’t harm you,” Anxiety adds. “You have to listen to Addiction’s reasoning. It will help us all.”

          I look at my phone. The desire is so tempting, so strong.

          Only ten minutes, that is all. I can survive ten minutes, and besides, it will make me happier than I am now.

          I start to reach for my phone once again.

          What am I doing?

          My fingers unlock my phone. I look for Instagram’s shiny square app.

          You do not want this. They are telling you lies.

          But I believe them.

          But you are believing fakery.

          Addiction and Anxiety chant their happiness as I enter Instagram’s algorithm.

          I see nothing has changed.

          Is this really making you happy?

          I am scrolling, scrolling, scrolling…

          I am frustrated, bothered, and toss my phone on my bed.

          I stand and protest, “That’s it. This is ending now.”

          I stride to my laptop, log in, and go to social media.

          Anxiety screams at me to see reason while Addiction criticizes my decision.

          I pull up all my social media, and one by one, I delete the accounts.

          Addiction growls once I am finished. “We had a deal.”

          “A deal not worth keeping—”

          Anxiety mentions, “It is fine. There are preprogrammed social media apps on her phone. We can live with what you did. You have others on your phone so it is fine. Totally fine…”

          I grab my phone, and stare at the preprogrammed apps. YouTube and Instagram, my main addictions. I uninstall the updates.

          Instagram is inaccessible without an account.

          “That’s fine. YouTube still exists—” tries Addiction.

          YouTube works, even without an account. Then the Update Now page appears and there is no click off button.

          Addiction sputters. “But…we need—you can’t do this. This is not fair!”

          “Listen here my little monsters, I am in charge. If I want to use YouTube it will be for my purposes in life, not to create the fake happiness that leaves me a zombie. Addiction, you do not need this to fuel you. Anxiety, we will be fine without it. You all will move on with your problems and find new ones to pester me about. But for social media, I am the master, and the authority is no longer yours to control.”