LIKES, COMMENTS, SHARES.
When did these three words turn into the reality of almost every teenager? Stuck in this vicious circle most of us have forgotten to live a life beyond screens. “Put your phone down,” tells your mother. Your answer is filled with annoyance as you reply “I literally just picked it up”. Well, both of you know it was a lie. Social Media addiction is not unknown, but has deep roots in denial. We seek validation from others in the form of likes and comments, story mentions and shares.
This world is nothing but an illusion; a mirage of connections. You never know how lonely a person actually is, or how stressful their life may be. DM’s flooded with texts, but no one to talk to. Thousands of followers, but no friends. Hundreds of likes, but no shoulder to cry on. If you’ve been there, I’d say, “Welcome to the world of social media, it sucks. You’re going to love it.”
People live a partial life on their feeds – they take out time from their days just to catch up with a never ending feed. What the bulk of us see on our timeline is success, glow-ups, parties, travelling, love and good company. What we don’t see is failure, heartbreaks, trauma, loss of loved ones and unproductive days. Even though we don’t focus on these things, subconsciously our mind tries to put forward a bleak image of our own lives.
Making social media more authentic seems like the obvious solution. What this would disregard, however, is the escapism that these platforms provide to most people. You don’t necessarily want to engage with your real life, and all the hardships that come with it when you look at Instagram. Nonetheless, we have to at least try to open up more. Things are gradually picking up pace, for example, celebrities are becoming more honest about their lives outside of the glamour of the spotlight. There is a lot more change to come. It truly is a revolutionary road ahead.
How many times has it happened that you closed an application and your thumb instinctively switched it on again and before you know you have successfully wasted another hour on the same app? More often than normal it has become my natural reflex to switch to twitter even if I was supposed to unlock my phone for a simple Google search. Social media is much more addictive than we perceive it to be.
And with the lockdown in its full swing, we have a billion excuses to justify the time that we spend online since a majority of our lives have become screen-bound. But deep down we know we need to stop. With new algorithms being updated each day, it almost seems impossible to slack some life out of our phone screens, into the real world. It is not just a trap of time but also takes a huge toll on our mental health. But how do we actually bring this control? Well, I am no expert, but here are a few steps that have helped me in the past: –
TURNING OFF NOTIFICATIONS.
Normalizing not replying to texts immediately is the key. But the adrenaline rush that comes with a notification is undeniably a catalyst in social-media addiction. With memes and posts being shared each hour, it seems impossible to put the phone down. If it is a message from an unexpected person, this feeling is much worse. Hence, turning off notifications from not- so urgent applications like Snapchat, Instagram is a great idea, while immediate apps like WhatsApp and messages can still keep buzzing.
DRAW REALISTIC TIME RESTRICTIONS.
Check your daily activity on apps and cut it down by 10-30% per day. You do not have to download blocking apps since they may get on your nerves soon. But setting personal time restrictions is something that one can achieve over time. You can also take help from a friend or a family member, if you are not able to hold yourself accountable.
Start with 24 hours of no activity on these handles. Then after a week have a three-day off of social media and then a week, 2 weeks and eventually a month. This will help in inducing more self-control and will help you with the addiction, eventually guarding you from the daily oblivion that hampers your life.
INVOLVE YOUR GOOD FRIENDS.
There is no doubt in the fact that having a buddy to complete tasks with brings along motivation. Having a friend do the same thing will bring in healthy competition and before you know it, you will be on track, more productive. By productivity, I not necessarily mean things that involve work or studies or exercise. Which brings us to the next pointer.
MAKE TIME FOR SOMETHING THAT YOU LIKE.
It could be writing, going for walks, watching the sunset or listening to good music. Set two to three hours off-screen during the day and do something that genuinely makes you happy. Productivity also stands for making time for positive things and increasing happiness.
And most importantly ..
REMEMBER TO TAKE IT ONE DAY AT A TIME.