I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with social media. Sometimes I cannot have enough of it, and other times I’m so sick of it that I never want to see it ever again. Who would have thought such lifeless piece of technology would provoke strong wavering emotions over an inanimate part of technology that has taken over everyone’s life. Of the numerous platforms, I’ve been sucked into Facebook and Instagram, while I think Whatsapp should be included in that list, and I can’t stand it anymore.
I one thing that I loved doing while I was growing up was read. It didn’t really start early in life for me. Let’s just say I was a late bloomer, but when it happened, it happened! I LOVED reading! If I got hold of a good book, you can be assured that I would be awake the whole night reading it, and stay awake the entire day in school the next day as well. It was a vicious cycle, and mind you I was about 15 or 16 at this time I think. But I never evolved with techonology in reading. I always loved hardcopy books, I enjoyed holding the book and flicking through pages, Kindle just wouldn’t cut it out for me.
This went on for a good few years, until Facebook, Instagram and YouTube took over, all in that exact order. Actually, Facebook took a back seat a few years ago. I went cold turkey with Facebook, abruptly stopped uploading and sharing stuff, stopped stalking people, stopped commenting on stuff and even stopped communicating with people. But I still spend a bit of time passively looking through my newsfeed once in a while.
Instagram and YouTube were the real culprits that diverted my attention from books. Instagram was so colourful and exciting, such a huge platform to learn, grow and develop. I used to upload pictures every day and communicate with people. I literally built my own world in Instagram; I was always thinking about what to upload, what to write as captions for my pictures, spent time researching and understanding the algorithms of Instagram - just like I did with my blog, and then let it die a slow painful death. Priorities changed, it became too time-consuming to plan, edit pictures, add my watermark, resize it, transfer to my phone and upload it to Instagram. Even when I wasn’t actively putting on content, I started browsing the discovery page, and boy did I discover more and more photographers and interesting themes and ideas.
YouTube was a whole new world that teleported me into it. YouTube has everything literally under the sun. I’m all for learning, so I used to reason with myself that I was learning stuff. I was basically in denial; it just consumed my whole world. I spent hours during my lunchtime at work, mornings, evening, while sitting in traffic (not when I’m driving), just every minute that I was free and didn’t know what to do, even when I had so much work to do, I would mindlessly scroll through Instagram. 25GB of data from my mobile network fed my crazy behaviour even more.
I obviously didn’t have any more time to read, because social media on my phone was far more relaxing and easier compared to reading. But in the hope of winning back my first love, I was still buying books that I fancied. Every time I went to Waterstones, I would walk out with a book, read it for 3 days, then forget about it for about 10 days, and start it all over again, only to stop a few days later. My once bare bookshelf (6 months ago) began getting filled quite quickly because Laxman and I were buying a lot of books between us (he wouldn’t let me buy clothes or household stuff, but never says no to books), and received books as gifts as well.
Something in me snapped on Monday last week. I deleted Facebook during my lunchtime and started reading a book (I strategically place books around me at home and work so I can read, should the urge arise and in an attempt to make myself to read). But this was only after I finished scrolling through Instagram and was updated with all the useless stories and random pictures. I got about 20 minutes reading time, which was better than nothing if I say so myself.
Then on Tuesday afternoon, I deleted Instagram, only after scrolling through for that day’s updates though, and then continued reading. I think I got about 30 minutes reading time, and it felt good for some odd reason. The book was so interesting, that I didn’t even want to get back to work. I texted Laxman to tell him I wished I had the afternoon off so I could continue reading. I had a sense of pride, an achievement that I was longing for. I haven’t felt this way about reading for many years now about.
On Wednesday, I thought it was YouTube that was going to be axed off next. Surprisingly, I didn’t even bother watching anything on YouTube, I went straight for my book. It could be because the book was so interesting or that I finally came to my senses. Regardless, I continued reading the rest of the week, and had double thoughts about bringing the book back home for the weekend so I can hopefully finish it, but I’ve got another book that I’m reading at home, which I’m desperately trying to finish so I can start another book that’s next in my list. (I’m reading two different books simultaneously; one for home and one for work, something that I started about 2 months back for practicality purpose, but have not been very successful yet)
Throughout the 5 days that I somewhat succeeded in spending more time reading than wasting time on my phone, there were many occasions where I looked at the top right corner of the book to see what time it was, and plenty a times used my thumb to scroll through the page once I reached the bottom of the page in a hard cover book. Is this what you call a millennial? Ha ha ha, yeah right. I’m not going to lie, I also had FOMO – fear of missing out. On Wednesday, I was a bit concerned that I was going to miss out people’s stories on Instagram, and I was gravely concerned on how I was going to catch up with everything I’ve missed. Why did I think it was important to follow other people’s life every hour? I don’t know. And on a side note, I slept quite well that whole week.
After 5 days, I thought I had attained the highest level of self-discipline that I needed. So I installed Instagram once again on Saturday morning. I’m not proud of myself to report that I must have spent at least 3 hours on Instagram throughout the day, with occasional gaps of course, and did not sleep well that night. To redeem myself, I uploaded a picture on Instagram today. Took me 10 minutes to figure out what to upload, and another 10 minutes to figure out this hashtag business.
I might delete Instagram again in the coming week. Or I might try to discipline myself more this week. Either way, I’ve spent the last two days trying to figure out what to upload in the family WhatsApp group. Apparently, my 83-year-old grandfather is now in the family WhatsApp group and is especially eager to see photos and send photos. The only problem is, I’ve not been taking any pictures of myself, nor do I have anything interesting to post, but I don’t want to miss out, so looks like I might be digging out old photos.