Do you remember why you signed up for Facebook or Instagram?
I guess I signed up in 2010 when I saw my friend play a Dirt Bike game on Facebook in my college's I.T Lab. The game was sick, I am telling you. I did not make any friends in the first few weeks. FB was solely used to play games.
After a while, when I did start making friends, I had this weird ego that I won't send a friend request and would only accept incoming requests. As a result, many of my classmates (mostly girls!) in college were not my FB friends even after a year.
And I started sharing some weird statuses and quizzes that many people would have unfriended me if they could.
Fast Forward Two Years
When I joined Infosys, Mysore in September 2011, I wanted to live like really live. So, I bought a Nokia X1-01 Music Edition Keypad phone with my first salary which could just play Music and nothing else because nothing else mattered at that time. I was off-FB for more than a year. It's only in 2013 that I bought a touchscreen phone and installed Whatsapp and started using social media again.
Then I started having a love-hate relationship with social media. I would come across many new and different things that satiated my curiosity and at the same time, many unnecessary things were clogging my mind as well due to it.
I would hold myself guilty and sometimes even curse myself to death when the urge to check for likes and comments on my Status would lead me to incessant opening up of their mobile apps. I would ask myself What is happening to me? And why is this happening to me? Why am I getting changed this way?
I choose to believe that when it comes to self-restraint, I am better than my peers and near and dear ones (as I have observed). I (intentionally) lived one month without listening to music on any device or speaker in 2010 when music used to be my only escape. And now these social media apps are making me lose self-control, making me doubt myself. What's wrong?
Then I observed what's happening around me and I found pretty much everyone is struggling with it but no one is admitting to it. So, I started reading about the impact of the use of social media on the human mind and how these social media apps are deliberately designed to keep us hooked and provide us with a high.
So, when mobile data became affordable by the day and you could install a plethora of social media apps on your phone, there came a point when I decided to do a digital detox. I bought a Nokia keypad phone in 2017 and started using it as my primary phone for 1 month. So, that meant no FB, no Whatsapp for 1 month even if that meant going to Spiti with just the feature phone (I had the DSLR with me though).
I did it each year for 3 years. But what was startling to notice was the intensity and frequency with which I started using the social media apps after the detox was over. I soon realized this approach is neither effective nor sustainable. I had to find an alternative.
So, I turned off all the social media notifications and decided to open them only three times in a day of my own volition- after breakfast, after lunch, after dinner for a total of 1 hour combined.
I figured social media could be a boon or bane just like other technologies like AI and all, depending upon how you use it. So, a healthy dose of social media won't hurt me much, I guessed. But with the strategists and highly trained engineers working in these behemoths using powerful technology and behavioral psychology and what not to make the platform so addictive that a lesser mortal like me would become helpless and fall in the rut again.
Then I discussed this issue with a friend of mine and he suggested that I watch a documentary titled "The Social Dilemma" on Netflix.
I must admit I was mind-blown!
Tristan Harris of the Center for Humane Technology; Justin Rosenstein, co-inventor of the Facebook "Like" button; Tim Kendall, former President of Pinterest and former Director of Monetization at Facebook; Cathy O'Neil, author of Weapons of Math Destruction; Rashida Richardson, Director of Policy at the AI Now Institute, and others are among those featured in the film.
The insights of these insiders are flawlessly woven into a thrilling narrative, which includes Vincent Kartheiser (Mad Men), that illuminates the very real consequences these seemingly innocent technologies can have on our daily lives, demonstrating how social media affects consumers on a personal level.
After watching the documentary I said Tata Bye Bye to all the social media apps on 9th February to never return.
But, it turns out that I caught the writing bug and not the least sharing bug. After all, a man is a social animal and Aman is no different. So, I wanted to share my writings with friends, family, colleagues, and acquaintances. As a result, I had no other choice but to be 'social' again.
I would then just share the links to my stories and articles on FB, Instagram, and Twitter and check out the updates in the writing groups I had joined and then disappear. I met some amazing writers and beautiful souls in these FB groups. My daily average of using FB was around 7 minutes per day. I said to myself 'not bad.' This is working fine.
I have decided to permanently delete my Facebook and Instagram accounts due to numerous reasons - some are personal and some ideological and most of them have to do with the notoriety of the Zuck and the likes.
According to the site Broadbandsearch.net, an average person spent approx 153 minutes on social networking in 2019 daily.
I do not want to spend almost 7 years of my life socializing. That's 1/10th of the average lifespan as arrived at by WHO.
Change is Coming
But as the recent trends show, it seems I am not the only one stepping away. According to a study conducted by independent research group ORIGIN, 64% of Gen-Z (people born after 1994) have taken a break from social media and 34% have completely quit social media.
I hope quitting social media altogether will bring more positive changes in my life than some inconvenient ones. I will get more time to do all the things that I love (there are so many).
Those of you who have come reading this far and if we are truly friends or share a special bond, then let's connect at the following platforms where I will be writing regularly:
My Webhome where I publish anything that deeply resonates with me
Scrollstack Blog where I publish health-related articles only
Substack Newsletter "Kaleidoscopic Perspective" where I send out weekly newsletters containing a life lesson, a positive feel-good story, a book/video/podcast suggestion, and a quote/poem.
I hope I will be able to utilize the 8-10 hours saved every week by quitting social media to create something meaningful and soul-stirring and share it directly with you 🙂
What do you think of my move? Do you wish to share your experience with social media and its impact on your life?
Let's talk at firstname.lastname@example.org