I had always been a social butterfly…but on social media more than in real life. Changing my WhatsApp DP every day, putting up funny (maybe not) Facebook status updates, uploading ten pictures a day on Instagram, tagging friends, healthy stalking almost all the people I knew and the people they knew, I used to do it all.
Then came the day when I did not know what to do on Facebook anymore. I had recently come back home after completing my postgraduate studies, was yet to find a good job and was single; I had absolutely nothing in my life to flaunt on social media and other people’s updates made me feel a tinge of jealousy. The one place that made me feel powerful and confident was starting to make me feel worthless, one post at a time.
So, I decided that it was time to stay away from social media for a while and deleted all the apps from my phone. Here is what my experience was like!
Stage 1: Liberation
Oh, that sweet feeling of freedom! The air smelt better when I woke up the next morning. Without any of the social media apps my phone was a dream come true. My battery never died, I had tons of space that I did not need and it functioned efficiently. Basically, all my phone-related complaints had been resolved in one night. Who’d have thought, huh?
Stage 2: Explanations
It took my friends a day or two to realize that I was missing from all these social media sites. Then the concerned phone calls started. They insisted that something had to be wrong in my life for me to take this step. Well, they weren’t completely wrong, but neither them nor I could pinpoint what that something was. So, I created a standard excuse - “I am changing my phone number so I have deleted everything for a while.” The calls continued so I don’t think that worked very well.
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Stage 3: Withdrawal Symptoms
The problem is, without social media, what do you do the first thing when you wake up in the morning? Which app will come to your rescue when you are trying to avoid somebody in the metro? I had nothing to do while I pooped or when I waited for the metro to arrive except stand awkwardly and look at other people busy with their phones. And the most difficult thing to do was get in touch with people!
There were times when I wanted to talk to someone but I didn’t want to make a phone call and the era of SMS has been over for a while now. Most of the days, I had to resort to talking to my dog or myself in the mirror and the other days, when things got tough without human contact, I’d finally go get some phone balance and call a friend.
Even in that case, my friends did not have time in the middle of the day just to “chat”, so I was, mostly, left alone, frustrated and bored with a phone full of battery.
Stage 4: Moving On
Whoever said, “Give it time and you will get over it” was right. I downloaded a couple of games on my phone and after a few brain games and settling a whole town of Sims, life got better. I started calling my friends more and meeting them often; my obsession with selfies came to a standstill. I did not have to talk to anyone I did not want to, and most importantly, I think, I used my phone for what it was truly made for - phone calls, taking pictures of stuff other than myself and entertainment (yes, I could put entire movies in my phone and watch them wherever I wanted!).
Also, I was happier, for obvious reasons. When I didn’t see how happy other people were, it instantly made me feel better about myself. Of course, it was my defence mechanism, but hey, at least it was a healthy one.
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Stage 5: The Return
After a month I decided to come back on social media. My friends teased me about how I could not stay away from the virtual world, and I laughed along. I can’t really explain why I came back or for that matter, why I went off it in the first place. Truth be told, I enjoyed my life without social media, but I don’t think I am completely done with it yet. I needed a little bit more of that annoying addiction, only this time, I started using it more as a requirement than a necessity - just the way it was supposed to be. And now that I have experienced and lived (though for just a month) a life without social media, I know I always have the choice.
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Published on Jul 30, 2016