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Q&A with Kodie: Round 2 | The Swedish Screen Detox Musician

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Kodie’s newest single, Likes, warns listeners about the dangers of grandstanding on social media and urges parents to take a more active role in their child’s development. The lyrics center around social media overuse and the byproducts of such behavior. Kodie was kind enough to share his journey since our initial interview with him, the source of his continued inspiration, and more of a personal look behind his stage persona. 

You first caught our eye about six months ago with your song, Phone Down. What have you been up to these past few months?

I’ve been working a day job as a youth recreation leader and gym class teacher. Aside from that, I’ve been working on new music and holding lectures at different schools about digital balance.

What was the inspiration behind your newest single, Likes?

I was just so tired of all the nagging around “likes.” People were sending me texts asking if I could “like” their pages, their articles, their pictures. “Like” their this and “like” their that. Sitting at dinner, sometimes, all people would talk about was how many “likes” they had on their latest post and discussed how to get more “likes.” It came to a point where it felt ridiculous and I was thinking to myself: is this what we have come to? chasing “likes?” I’m not saying that “likes” are bad, “likes” are good! But, it’s when you become addicted to getting “likes” and you start correlating your self-worth by how many “likes” you get, that’s when you need to get a grip.

It’s not cool when you ask people to “like” your stuff. I think “liking” should come naturally. You have to let people decide for themselves what they want to “like,” don’t ask for sympathy “likes” because people might not be willing to “like” what you’ve uploaded. I’m not saying that I’m perfect because I used to ask people to “like” my stuff too when I was a social media addict. But now that I’ve snapped out of it I can see the negative effects it can have on some of the people around me more clearly. The stress, the anxiety, the pressure to get “likes.” It’s just sad to see that some people do all types of crazy stuff just to get “likes.” I’ve seen some people so addicted to “likes” that they’ve felt they had a bad day if they haven’t got a certain amounts of “likes” on a selfie or whatever they’ve uploaded.

The song itself came about one day when I was in my kitchen doing the dishes. My laptop was playing some beats and I was just freestyling when I came up with this melody for the hook. I continued and soon I added some words to it and the first thing that came to my mind was “likes.” It was a topic I’d wanted to write about for a while. I sat down and wrote the raps and the day after the whole song was complete.

A couple of days later when my good friend Andreas “Ndy” Jamsheree (who produced Phone Down) was in town we decided to record it. Ndy is a master when it comes to uplifting beats with good melodies. We wanted the song to reach out to the new generation so Ndy gave the beat a junior high school feeling. The song was so catchy and relatable that we decided to release it as the follow up single to Phone Down because it was a topic that a lot of people could relate to. I wrote the song to inspire people to take control of their life.

Tell us a personal anecdote about a time you were very “addicted” and “hooked” on “likes.” How did you get there? How were you feeling?

When you’re an artist or have a business, you want to grow and become popular. These days, social media is the place to be popular and that’s why “likes,” followers, and comments are so important. When you have many “likes” and followers people flock to you because you’re hot. But being hot comes at a price: constant pressure and stress to entertain your audience, because that’s what’s expected from you. You have this fear that if you don’t entertain you will lose followers and that will make people think that you’re not good enough or that you’re finished.

Understanding the importance of social media marketing, I had this theory that if I uploaded a lot of stuff everyday, I would get more “likes” and followers, that way I could get more listeners. Doing that, after a couple of years, it became a part of my everyday life and I started valuing my music in how many “likes” and followers I had. I began putting more time into chasing “likes” and followers than working with my music. I was obsessed with getting “likes.” It was like a drug and I needed my dose everyday. All I did was think about my social media content, what I needed to upload to get more “likes.” Today, when I think back, that’s probably one of the main reasons to why I only released 3-4 songs a year. I had put more time and effort into looking cool on social media than working on my craft which was my music. And I remember having this “I-must-atleast-get-80-’likes’-a-day” on a picture just to feel good about myself, and if I didn’t get those “likes” I would feel bad.

What are your thoughts about Apple’s Screen Time and Google’s Digital Wellbeing initiatives? Do you think it will help people with social media (and general phone) addiction?

It’s definitely a step in the right direction. There are a lot of people out there who need it. I think it’s good that Apple and Google are making people aware of how much time they are spending on their phones. As for phone addiction, I think it varies from person to person. Some people can overcome their addiction on their own by finding information while others will have to seek help like I did.

Right now a lot of studies are being done about phone and social media addiction. I think in the near future a lot of people will wake up and have a better understanding of these tools and learn how to find a tech/life balance. Social media is a great tool and I love it. I’m on social media everyday and there are countless of benefits to using it. But it’s also important to maintain a balance when using it.

Could you tell us more about the process of overcoming your social media addiction with the help of Patrik Wincent at Internetakuten? What was the most helpful aspect of seeking professional help?

When I visited Patrik, I was feeling so low that I couldn’t see any other option than to seek help for my phone habits. I couldn’t be without my smartphone longer than 5 minutes. I had tried but failed. If I didn’t have my phone in my hand after 5 minutes I would get anxious. I could get very stressed and angry.

When I met Patrik I was brutally honest about my addiction. I told him everything about my craving for “likes,” my fear of missing out (FOMO), how I was comparing myself to other people’s lives and got jealous, how I was faking some things to get “likes” (i.e. uploading old pics of me on stage, faking that I was on tour living the rockstar life, faking my happiness when I was depressed), how I had become lazy and unsociable, etc.

Patrik made a step-by-step program for me and I was open to change. The first thing I had to do was to take a one week digital detox and delete all my social media apps. The first 5 days into the detox was really hard. But after, I began to calm down and do other things. I started reading books about self-improvement; I called up my friends and we grabbed coffee; I visited my family in my hometown, went out on dates, went to the gym, took long walks in the city. I was doing things I hadn’t done in a long time and it felt great. After a week I didn’t miss my social media at all, so I told Patrik I could go on for another week of the detox and I did. Shortly after I decided to take a two month break from social media. During that time we worked on my sleep, my social life, my health, my feelings, and how to use technology in a healthy way. I found my digital balance and it was awesome. Patrik really helped me a lot.

When did you have your “a-ha moment” that your self-worth and value is not tied to the number of “likes” you receive on a post?

It was in fall 2017. A month after my first therapy session with Patrik, during my social media detox, I just dropped everything and said f**k it, I’m done with this lifestyle. I was done with trying to impress people all the time and portraying myself as a successful artist when I wasn’t. I was tired of living in a fake social media bubble just to get “likes.” I stopped putting filters on things and stopped living my life through other people’s eyes. The stress, the pressure, the anxiety. I decided to drop these negative emotions and to go back to the original Kodie — the Kodie who used to be one-of-a-kind, the Kodie who dared to be different, the Kodie who wrote rhymes from the bottom of his heart. That’s when I wrote Phone Down, that’s when I reinvented myself and that’s when I started living my life again.

Are you engaging with your community to help reduce social media and phone addiction? How do you show people, beyond your music, that there is much more to life than just “likes?”

Absolutely. Every chance I get I try to spread the word about digital wellness. I talk to the kids in the school I work in about the good and the bad on social media. Social media is good when it’s used in a healthy way. I talk to them about the importance of good self-image and inner happiness so that they don’t measure themselves against how many “likes” they get. We talk about different outdoor activities and the importance of spending quality time with family and friends. I tell them to watch out for bad people online who do bad things. That if they ever get strange messages they should show it to their parents or talk to their teachers about it. There are a lot of bad things going on online so it’s very important for us grown ups to guide our children and teach them how to avoid the pitfalls of social media.

Like I mentioned earlier, I also hold lectures in different schools about tech/life balance. This is something I love doing because I learn so much from talking to the young people about their social media habits. By doing so, I can come up with better ways to reach out with a message around digital health and wellness.

Are your friends and family also as digitally aware and as “digitally healthy” as you are? If yes, what are some ways you support each other? If not, why do you think that is?

Luckily most of my family and friends are digitally healthy. After the release of Phone Down, I noticed a lot of people around me became more aware of their phone habits. People who used to laugh at me, thinking I was ridiculous for seeking help for phone addiction came to me and said, “wow, we didn’t know phone addiction was that serious.”

People who used to text while driving have been telling me they’ve stopped doing that after reading my posts about it. But you know, even I, who’s worked on tech/life balance, must get a reminder sometimes to put my phone down. The other day I was lying on the couch at my parents’ place sending the new single to my friends on FB when I got carried away. My mother said “hey, let’s watch a movie.” What she really meant was, “Kodie put your phone down and get out in the real world to spend time with your family.” I put my phone down and we had mad fun watching that movie.

#PhoneDownLifeUp

We think your music is a great way to spread this message about digital health — do you have any future plans to release an EP or even an album dedicated to the topic?

Thank you. My biggest goal with the music right now is to release my debut album. It would be a dream come true. I’ve been rapping for 22 years and I’ve never been more ready for it as I am now. But recording an album takes time and money so I really can’t tell when it will be ready for release or what topics I will have on it. We’ll see. The producers I’ve been working with so far on the album are Andreas “Ndy” Jamsheree and Daniel from the German group Crew Cardinal.

Lastly, any supportive or encouraging words for people who are looking to find tech-life balance?

Yes. There are a lot of good clips, articles and studies online about the subject. And if you feel like it’s too hard to make it on your own, don’t be afraid to seek help for it. There’s nothing wrong with seeking help.

Kodie can be reached via Facebook or Twitter. Check out his music on YouTube 

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