Imagining life without social media is like imagining a life without oxygen. Or so we would think…
Social media has become more like a bane, and less like a boon. These days, netizens who commonly associate themselves as ‘millennials’ are active participants of social media websites like- Instagram, Facebook, Reddit, Tumblr, Twitter, etc. As we have integrated into a global internet community, there is, of course, an impending negative that looms over our generation. And that is the social media impact. An impact that robs us of our objectivity and rationale and sucks us into a social media vacuum, where only virtual and all things fake sells.
There are an over-reliance and faith in social media which separates us from reality. It creates an awkward sense of delusion that whatever is displayed on the internet is real and hence worth getting/ believing. This sense of disillusionment especially for the younger generation is detrimental as they are made to believe
- It is important to document your life on social media (as one imagines themselves to be public figures, who have active recipients to their content)
- It makes them compare themselves to others, thereby promoting a sense of not being content with their lives.
- It makes them believe that their world is restricted to the tiny screen and everything inside of it.
Over the years, I have had the opportunity to talk and discuss this indulgence with people. People especially of my age group. For who properly witnessed the social media boom. Give and take the past 6 years, have been so revolutionary in the social media participation, that almost every other person has a social media account, a considerable presence and if not worse, a mild addiction to this virtual platform.
My biggest complaint from social media, after having been an active user myself is that one doesn’t realize how much it takes away from them. The average time spent (especially on major social media sites like Instagram), by a user is around an hour every day. On average, Indian users spent 2.4 hours on social media, in line with the global average. And more, as we speak. And this graph from Scroll proves the same.
While a normal routine will pan out to be hectic and may not let us govern our phone that often for leisure, but doing to the pandemic, we all find relief on social media. After all, if we are learning to bake, make amazing dishes, doing laundry for the first time, it all needs to go up online….right? Or maybe no.
Social media is designed in a way to keep us constantly engaged. “Social networks prioritize which content a user sees in their feed first by the likelihood that they’ll actually want to see it.” This creates a vicious pool, as similar feeds keep popping us, asking more of our time to explore them, enticing us with what is there to offer.
My Personal Experience with Social Media
Having myself gone from a similar phase, especially between my high school and the first year and a half of my college life; I developed a natural stimulus to prevent myself from further usage of social media. But yes, to shine more light on my social media addiction, which was very real and very true. I lived my life on Instagram. I needed to know which classmate of mine went where and did what (considering we all went separate ways, cities and countries post-school), what I do in my life needed to be put up there (having brunch, out for a party with friends, important college events, etc.) and finally which celebrity had a better MET gala look or not.
Found so many talented poets (as I am a poetry fan myself), creating amazing content online, or found brilliant pages for a woke ideology, pages, or people putting out great content, who critically analyzed key political events every now and then. In toto, there was bad and there was good.
I lived in my whims and fancies and Instagram ensured that for me. Coming to the final year of my college, wherein undue exam stress made me quit social media for a month. I purged my phone off from Instagram (I majorly used that. Was never an active member of any other social media platform) and aced my exams. But more than that, that one month made me realize that me being there or not, actively posting stories or not, makes no difference to me or my followers.
I was not a blogger or an important public figure who had an active audience consuming their content. I was simply a social media user. And when that realization set in, I instantly chose to remove a lot of things of my personal life from there, simply because what I required was not validation anymore. What I required from social media was a break.
Rediscovering the ‘gram
And then, this accentuated to more frequent social media breaks. I was more than happy to not have the Instagram app on my phone. I was more than happy to realize I have so much more time to read the news and opinion pieces. Which in my belief garner more attention from us. So every time I came back on Instagram, I never developed the urge to share something. I did the next sane thing, which was to limit my followers on it. Would sit down with me, and at that moment, actively removed about 200 people from my following list. I simply asked myself the question- am I that invested in their life to follow them. Or do I see any future interaction with them? If no, then they simply go, right!
Accomplishing this task, further made me purge my page from any celebrities I was following because that was a personal choice. There is nothing preach-worthy about that, plus I applied the same logic I did in the above case. I rediscovered how I can actively make my Instagram a more sane choice by following up on things I am genuinely interested in- like arts, history, or current affairs. It also opened up to me many sustainable small business holders, who have been producing some amazing work! So give or take, I did have a good experience from this exercise.
The Lockdown Crises
During this lockdown, I actively kept myself off of social media. Because there was already a very toxic environment developing on social media, which did affect me. Staying away from it, for these four months has been rewarding. I finally rid myself off of the habit of waking up and checking my phone. It was such a bad activity because instead of starting my mornings with introspection. I started my morning by reacting to the world.
I focused a lot more on myself. It took me three months but I changed my body clock from sleeping at 2 am and waking at 9:30 am, sleeping at 11:00 pm, and waking at 5:30 am. I now check my phone at around 10 am. These four and a half hours that I give to myself in the morning have helped me, and I know will prove fruitful in the coming future, if I diligently stick to this schedule.
Looking at the Bright Side
Who knows how the coming months will be. We don’t even know what is in store for us the next day. But what this new normal expects from us is a stern control and discipline in ourselves. Setting unrealistic goals and hyping yourself up is not a way to amend things. Starting with basic habits and continuing to let them grow over time can make you reach so far. So wide that even this universe would seem small to meet your capabilities. Social media is designed in a way to keep us constantly engaged. But if we know how to get out of that maze. Trust me we have won a big battle!