I Switched-off Social Media For A Week. After A Tough Start, This Is What Happened.
Ever wondered how people in the stone age lived? Yes, they didn’t have cars but guess what, they didn’t have social media either!
I have always been a person who requires social validation. I logged out of all my social media accounts for a week and this happened…I was a bit on the chubby side, was body-shamed and was thus inspired to lose weight (for all the wrong reasons, of course). And when I posted a picture on Facebook after losing almost 40 pounds, I had all the attention I had always wanted. My crush started smiling at me in the school hallways and my extended family started reacting with ‘hearts’ and ‘wows’ on my Facebook posts. I was working hard to maintain my new body, and in order to increase the number of praises that I had been receiving lately, I made an account on Instagram; I had to increase my cool quotient too!
Life was good. I had a decent number of followers and frankly, scrolling down the newsfeed was quite interesting. I got local, national, and international updates got to know about various ‘interesting facts’, and was almost always updated with the entertainment, music and fashion industry. My meme game had become stronger too. I had started making friends with new people and was getting in touch with the old ones; people who had forgotten about my existence and me, theirs.
Amidst all this, I wasn’t realizing that this virtual community was not a substitute for human contact and I started losing touch with my friends. I was grieving about me not being important to anyone on the campus when my roommate told me that it was because of my habit of staying online almost all the time. “How will people talk to you when you are smiling at your screen? I saw you texting your ‘close’ friends on Whatsapp when we were all dancing to Beyoncé in the cab back home. You are never present where you are supposed to be”. And that was a shock. I thought that social media had made me omnipresent but sadly, it had made me lose my sense of time and space. I decided to give my actual life a chance and logged out of all my accounts and deleted these apps from my phone.
I felt great in the first two hours. I played UNO with my roommate and we brewed some coffee together. Of course, I clicked pictures like I always do but this time I didn’t know what to do with them. There was no medium left to share my momentary happiness and I didn’t know what to do with my life. So I started toying with my phone. But let me tell you that toying with your phone is not a good idea when all that you’re craving is to post a picture on IG.
The first day after I had logged out, I felt weird and aimless; it was like a withdrawal syndrome. I was just checking my phone for the time and emails if any. I was throwing tantrums around the house, getting pissed off at wandering birds for no reason at all. I picked up a fight with my brother whose guitar had suddenly gotten too loud for me. Going out with my friends would make no sense to me- what use was going to a café and ordering those pink drinks with mini umbrellas if I could not boast about them on Snapchat? But these were small issues. The major problem was that almost all the events related to the university were notified about through Whatsapp groups and without my social media accounts, I missed an important conference that had been planned and organized in a hurry. No one knew about it beforehand.
I had initially thought that I won’t operate my social media accounts for three days but when I realized that I missed my childhood friend’s birthday because I was not notified about it through Facebook, I knew that I was in an actual fix. I was dependent on social media for almost everything. My general knowledge and awareness were all a product of social media posts and I realized that they were not enough to know about the actual affairs. I picked up the newspaper again after years and sat with my family to watch the daily news. I have to admit that it felt great.
And there were a million other small things; the fear of missing out, and not being updated with the goings-on in the world and the gossip of my class were the major ones.
It has been a week that I uninstalled all the apps from my phone. I downloaded them again last night and I think I will start using Whatsapp again. I think it is important for communication. About other platforms, I will use Pinterest only for ideas for projects. Twitter, I think, is important for knowing the opinions of influential people about incidents and topics that matter. I cannot deactivate my FB account; I cannot remember birthdays. And I am a student of literature- I need discord for my book discussions.
I have decided that I will still use these platforms as they are important for awareness in the global village that we live in today. But one thing is certain- I will not overuse them as I had been doing for the past few years. Guess my mom was right: it was my phone and social media addiction that had given me my headache and body pain!
Originally published at https://www.fuzia.com.