Perks of a social media detox

Plabita Baruah

With the digital revolution in the last decade that changed the ways of the world, along with the various other technologies, smartphones and the internet have become an indispensable part of our lives.  And with the smartphone at a hand’s reach of almost everyone, social media too has become a part and parcel of every day. Of course like any other modern invention social media comes with its own baggage of pros and cons and can have wonderful as well as horrendous effects on humankind depending entirely on how wisely we use it.

There has been a drastic increase in the number of social media users with the advent of free and cheap internet and even more with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdowns. More people spending more time on these platforms obviously led to more opinions, more word wars, more fake news, and more negativity.  With nothing much to do during the lockdowns, I myself realized that the amount of time I indulged in these platforms amounts to no less an addiction and one fine day after a headache and tired eyes from hours of scrolling my timelines, I decided to take a break. They say it takes 21 days to break a habit so I deleted all social media apps from my phone, poured cold water on my cravings to check the latest viral trends, and stayed completely away from Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for a fortnight and a half. And interestingly, I realized a lot more about life, about the world and about my own self which I want to pour out in ink.

The most imperative thing that I learned from this little experiment of mine was that not everyone’s opinion matter to us. Many people fear that they will miss out on important happenings around if they don’t check social media but actually it is more than enough to read one or two newspapers daily or watch some quality news to be updated about the world. Also, it is completely unnecessary to fill our brains with about a 100 or more people’s personal opinions on whatever is happening around us.

Being away from social media gives us time to concentrate on our own self rather than pointlessly stuffing the brain with information about what other people are eating, wearing, buying, or doing the whole day. And the amount of free time that we can have will make one realize the time one has been wasting scrolling down newsfeeds. I personally had more time to do yoga, exercise, and meditation which basically meant I took care of my own physical and mental health. I finally got the time to read the ever pending Paolo Coelho, Haruki Murakami and Khaled Hosseini’s works and I can vouch anyday that the time spend with their words are worth much more than the time wasted in arguing with some stranger on Facebook or Twitter. Instead of looking at what people chose to show the world on their timeline, I had time to actually call up my friends and relatives realizing that there were actual things, both good and bad going on in their lives apart from the cat picture or the happy beach holiday photo they posted in the morning. Instead of seeing someone else’s perfect, well-sorted life and feeling insecure and confused about my own, I felt more confident than ever; especially with the thought that if I can resist taking a sneak peek of what I am avoiding, I can do anything in life with that determination.

I started doing more creative things, cooking new dishes, writing more, drawing zentangles and mandalas which became a new hobby owing to the amazing soothing effects it has on your mind; not to mention relieving my eyes from the constant strain of staring into screens. I felt that peoples’ judgments and opinions on what I am doing, their likes, dislikes or comments doesn’t even matter if I am happy doing what I want to do. I no longer felt that the world was a horrible place because I got more time to talk with people around me and most of them seemed nice and pleasant contrary to witnessing the numerous venom laced comments of thousands of trolls and cyberbullies in different social media pages, the comment section wars between people having different opinions, open death and rape threats from strangers to strangers just because one of them happened to like the color saffron and the other liked green.

If one decides to keep a count on the amount of time we invest (or waste?) in these platforms and the contributions they make in our lives at the end of the day, we will be surprised. And this is something we all should check because anything that we spend this much time of our lives in is bound to impact us in huge ways and hence needs critical observation and thought.

I returned back to social media after 21 days but now I can consciously control the time I spend there. There is no longer the constant urge to check the latest viral trends or see how many people liked my post. I have decided that I don’t need to check my phone first thing in the morning after I wake up and let a pessimist with a stupid post ruin my day or go to bed at night after seeing someone getting trolled and abused horribly for a mistake they committed. It’s more than enough if I spend about half an hour in the afternoon or evening scrolling through my social media accounts once and now there are days when I even decide to completely trade that half an hour to spend time with a good book or simply watching the birds return to their nests in the evenings.

**মহাবাহু**

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