January 2016 By Megha Bajaj Social media can take you hostage insidiously, says Megha Bajaj, while cutting loose her bonds and reclaiming her freedom My battery was dead and I was still a couple of hours away from home. I felt a strange restlessness take me over. I felt the need to check my Facebook, my Whatsapp, my calls. Not that anything important was up, but I just felt incomplete without all these. Stuck in the traffic, I kept stressing my driver to somehow drive faster so I could quickly charge my phone and get back to life. Suddenly, I felt as if I was roused from a deep slumber. What had I made my life into? Why this crazy need to constantly check the phone? Why this compulsion to stay “connected”– so much so that two hours without the phone felt unbearable? And that’s when it hit me. Unknowingly, I too had become an addict. A social media, gadget addict. Just a decade ago, I had no mobile phone, and yet I had felt much more connected to people close to me. A birthday was not wished as an impersonal message with emoticons of a cake and smiles; instead we would go to each other’s houses with cakes, and celebrate. If a meeting wasn’t possible, I would at least call people to wish them and would end up finding out how the person was, and how things were going. I realised that although I was in touch with a lot more people – the intimacy had reduced rather than grown. As I thought about Facebook I realized that I had started browsing through people’s profiles a lot more than earlier. Earlier, I knew everything about a few people’s lives, and things were so beautiful. Now I knew a little about so many people’s lives, and honestly, I just felt cluttered within. The analogy popped into my mind: I would never allow someone to come to my house and leave things behind – It would just cause so much clutter. What then of my mind? Wasn’t aimless browsing really cluttering my mind with information and opinions that I really DID NOT need? Social media was also making me needy for attention. When I shared something on a Whatsapp group, it certainly mattered to me if it was followed by smiles and thumbs up signs. And so it was for Facebook. I had cherished the part of me who did things because they felt right, and made me happy, rather than for what people said, and suddenly I realised a slight compromise was beginning on this front. Moreover, constantly checking my emails was making other people’s emergency into my own. If someone would mail asking for something, I would drop everything and get to it, even though I had other important things planned. I was losing my focus. Just a decade ago, I had no mobile phone, and yet I had felt much more connected to people close to me I gave myself a gentle nudge that day in the car. In the last one week I have deleted myself from groups that didn’t seem to add any value to me or vice versa. I have consciously decided to check my email only twice a day, give myself about 20 minutes on Facebook and limit Whatsapp to important messages, which needed immediate response. I am already feeling so much lighter . Gadgets and social media are a wonderful boon, but only when you de-addict yourself from them. I am just loving this newfound freedom where I go for hours without checking my phone. Aha. This is the life! About the author : Megha is, above all, a seeker. These days she is attempting to find herself in the role of a teacher through the online writing course designed by her. You can know more about her on www.wonderofwords.org
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