It all started somewhere around April-May 2018.
I quit social media out of frustration.
I was constantly skipping from one social media to another.
From WhatsApp, Instagram to Facebook. My screen-on time went from 3 hours to a whopping 14 hours per day. That’s around 60% of the day.
A war was being waged inside, the three and half-pound meatloaf, between my ears.
I knew something was not right. So I quit social media.
The first to go through guillotine was Instagram, followed by Facebook and WhatsApp.
Being an introvert, it didn’t take a lot of effort to quit them, but it wasn’t easy either.
When I told, I quit social media, people were like
“What? Quitting social media? Are you nuts?”
Few cared, a few didn’t and life wasn’t much different without it. I still had my smartphone with me.
Fast forward a few months later,
I was using my smartphone for over 10 hours a day, yet I didn’t have any social media.
Later I quit my smartphone.
A month passed by.
I was borrowing phones and tablets, from friends, family, and neighbours. I was doing another round of smartphone usage spree.
I switched back and forth between smart and basic devices.
I was slowly losing my sanity.
There was no serenity, and I was walking volcano.
Then a day came, where I had no social media, no smartphones and I was in my room. I just sat there doing nothing.
Out of nowhere, some bulb blinked atop my head, I had an idea, a story
I started work on it.
Days ran by faster than a speeding bullet. And within a fortnight I had a story in my hand.
I published it on my blog.
Here’s the takeaway
Most impressive and meaningful events happen only in the most mundane moments of your life.
If I hadn’t quit smartphones, you wouldn’t be reading this post right now.
We have to embrace boredom in our lives.
We pull out our phones every time we are bored. If the boss is late for the meeting, when we are standing in a queue, everywhere we use them. Pulling out our smartphones when boredom strikes have been deeply ingrained into our lives.
Imagine a world without smartphones. If our boss is late for the meeting, we would have no other choice but talk to the person near us.
This is where deep meaningful relationships are formed.
For instance, consider yourself waiting in line for purchasing a movie ticket.
The queue is long and it might take around 20 minutes to get the ticket.
Now you stand there with a long face looking everywhere when suddenly the little girl in front of you asks
“Hey man, can you reserve this place for me, I will be back in a sec. Just need to check with my friends for the ticket count”
You say that it’s not a problem, and she leaves in a jiffy.
She comes back, thanks you for the help and books the ticket.
After the movie, you see each other. She waves you Goodbye with a big smile plastered across her face and you wave back happily.
You may or may not come in contact with her later in your life. But that moment when she thanked you for the small help you did, that I think is a wonderful moment, a highlight of the day.
I believe that these small moments make life much more meaningful and interesting to live.
Now consider the same situation with a different approach. The little girl stands in the same place before you. She turns around to ask for help. But alas, you are there with your 6-inch demon in your hands with your earphones plugged in listening to the latest song by Hip-Hop Tamizha.
The probability that she will ask a favour is 0.0001 percentile.
Certain people would be like
“Hey, I am not losing anything you know?”
Yes, but I don’t think you are gaining anything new by passively staring at your screen either. (In most cases you don’t)
So why do you replace those mundane moments with your screens?
Something good may or may not happen, but my question is why limit the possibility?
Remember when we were kids, we used to pester our mom to play with us. She says that she is working and asks us to go off.
We come back sitting alone on that empty sofa of ours wondering what to do.
Suddenly your sofa turns into a spaceship. You being the astronaut, trying to save the world from the long-horned, hairy, sharp-toothed aliens. And you finally end up doing it from the sofa spaceship which you have constructed in your mind. Such good old beautiful days. (sighs…)
Imagination and creativity are born only in the most mundane moments of our life.
“Does that mean should we all quit social media and smartphones?”
If I answered Yes, to that question, then I would be a total-dumbass. Which leads to the next topic…
Smartphones aren’t as bad as we think them to be
“Smartphones are addictive. They have spoiled a generation of kids.”
People who speak these statements are in most cases
. Haven’t probably used a smartphone
b. Are suffering from a smartphone addiction(They speak this way to unconsciously assure them that they are not addicts)
When social media is used as a tool you are provided with tons of opportunities.
Nowadays, almost all companies mainly use social media to leverage their companies.
If big giants such as them are built with the help of smartphones why throw the opportunity.
If you’re running a business in 2016, you need to be thinking about Snapchat as a channel to grow your customer base. PERIOD.— Gary Vaynerchuk
According to me, Quitting smartphones is the best and the worst decision I have taken in my entire life.
Even though I discovered my passion for writing, when I quit social media it didn’t come without its costs.
I lost communication with few people who used to be thick pals, back in the day.
Living in the modern world, you cannot just get away with quitting social media and smartphones. At some point, you will need it anyways.
Moreover, when you quit smartphones, you are entitled to the feeling that you are superior.
You are a guy who did something which many people couldn’t.
You cringe when someone pulls out a smartphone even for necessity because you consider it to be distracting.
You consider all the other smartphone users as weak-willed, addicted people. Say sort of a superiority complex(Believe me, I know it) And this is a really sick place to put yourself in.
“I cannot quit smartphones and I cannot live with them either. Care to provide some help here man? I am confused.”
Don’t worry, I have got your back.
How do you use smartphones without being sucked into them?
Before getting into this, let me tell you something. Smartphones and social media are addictive and the addictiveness of them would only increase in the long run. Every day, developers are educated with human psychological behaviours to lure you in as much as possible to increase your social media usage.
So what do we do?
We have to be in control of how we spend our time, how we use social media. There must be some balance in how we use technology. We cannot rely on our will power to do this.
But what we can do this, create a system, where you could escape all those booby traps.
I will suggest a few which you could use.
1. Have a separate device for social media.
This may seem like a pricy solution, but it isn’t. When you can afford a phone for over rupees 10,000, you could afford this one too.
If you have an older device, which could still run social media, great stick to that one. Else, buy a new device.
Don’t use this as an excuse to buy a highly-priced device. The device should be capable of running social media, that must be the required specification. Nothing fancy. Please don’t shop without thinking twice.
Now after getting the device, Install social media apps which you wish to use. Install all the other apps, and disable all those system apps which you could(including the play store.)
This way our mind gets trained to the fact that this device is only used for the purpose of social media.
Now there is are n number of apps to lock you out of your device and I use Keep Me Out. Install any one of these and set aside a separate part of the day, where you can use social media. Say 6pm-6.45pm, Other than this you have to lock yourself at all times.
2. Make it harder to use social media.
For example, you could make it much harder by using social media on your desktops. Smartphones being easily accessible, you easily fall into the trap of social media. The thought of sitting up straight turning on your system and using social media makes it much more difficult and makes you use it, for highly intentional purposes only.
3. Have a friend to monitor your social media usage.
Sign an agreement on a paper(I’m being dead serious here) stating that if you use social media more than x minutes each day, you have to pay him rupees y for every minute. Both of you sign it. Have it photographed, or hell you even frame it. Do whatever helps you.
And use a certain app for monitoring your app usage for the day. This way your friend could find how much you have used social media.
4. Schedule a detox day.
Set aside a day for every fortnight or at least a month.
On that day, switch off all your devices, and place them in a drawer, lock them up.
Live without smartphones, for a single day. This could help you gain perspective on how life is without smartphones.
For other people out there who say,
“I am not at all addicted to social media and its just a tool in my life… nothing more”
A standing ovation man…Congrats! Seriously, man, it’s difficult to be so self-disciplined and yet my kind suggestion would be to retrospect yourself from time to time to stay that way.
Being extremely addicted to technology, I had to take extreme measures.
Social media has helped to build big corporations and at the same time, people destroy themselves with its assistance.
The million dollar question is how do you use it?