I’m inundated with notifications for everything (birthdays, Saturday nights out and even sales). I also have apps that allow me to do anything (pay off IOUs, get my laundry done, track my steps and even read comics). And a single ping has the power to make or break my plan for the weekend.
Growing up as part of the Internet generation, I was first introduced to notifications with Orkut – Google’s first foray into the social media. I was 14 then. As a teenager, I wanted to be everywhere and know what everyone was up to. I had #FOMO before #FOMO was a thing.
Of late, the pinging has gotten too frequent, the sharing makes we want to say, ‘TMI! OMG, please!’ and the notifications are too many to keep up with. I’ve become that person who’s always scrolling. There have been times when I’ve walked into parties and asked for the Wi-Fi password – because why be in the moment when I can be on my phone?
Amid all this, I began to lose focus. I continued doing things – working, eating, hanging out with friends but I wasn’t 100% there. My attention span became as long (or short) as a Snapchat post; and I. Just. Had. To. Know. What. Everyone. Was. Up. To.
I know I’m not enjoying things IRL anymore, I’m just soaking it in through my phone. I check my phone before going to bed, reply to emails while travelling – I click on everything.
I love the Internet, it’s taught me more than my college ever did. I always found a YouTube tutorial for everything I’ve ever wanted to learn. But the Internet also eats my time. It’s like underwater diving, you’ll never know what you’ll find. And mostly my curiosity gets better of me. Under the mask of ‘work’ I scroll through a pop star’s turbulent affair, an acquaintance’s wedding album, someone’s #OOTD. With every click, the voice in my head goes ‘stop’. Along with knowledge, the Internet also provides me with too many distractions. (Here’s one book that will help you find focus!).
Same time last year, I met a childhood friend after ages. There was something exceedingly calm about her. Like she was floating through life. And I noticed her availability on social media was very limited. She was more aware of things happening around her. And meditating was part of her daily routine. Another friend makes it a point to chant every morning. So I decided to figure ‘my thing’. I took up running – it involves an hour or two every morning without a phone. It’s like freedom. There is no urgency and I can just be, and that too without a phone!
Let’s face it. We can’t get rid of social media. It’s resourceful and sometimes it’s an occupational hazard. But you can limit it. Stop falling for the click baits man! Sharing is caring, I know. But oversharing is scaring. We can’t get ‘off the grid’ but we can find a middle ground.
Now stop scrolling.
Illustrations Courtesy: Aditi Sharma