Social media needs to be credited with several positives. It revolutionised how content is created, shared, and monetised.

“Hey, I have been wanting to delete Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and WhatsApp from my phone for the last 2 years. I even tried but within a day I re-install them. I am spending an average of 8 hours daily on my phone. What should I do?” Last weekend, I received this call from a school friend who I last met 16 years back. Before we delve deeper into that call, let us talk more about the genesis of this problem.

Social media needs to be credited with several positives. It revolutionised how content is created, shared, and monetised. It opened opportunities for work-from-home moms, micro-entrepreneurs, and small businesses to create visibility for their products and services.

Chefs, musicians, singers, doctors, and even magicians, among hundreds of other categories, have amassed a huge fan following on YouTube and Instagram.

Social media helped governments listen to their citizens in real-time, and brands, their consumers, and resolve complaints at a scale that was erstwhile unimaginable. Several well-known political leaders built their careers harnessing the power of social media. Smartphones lapped up this opportunity and improved their camera and sound quality so that better content can be created and uploaded on different platforms.

What started with ‘scraps’ on Orkut gave way to Facebook ‘wall’ and then one app after another overtook our lives. The conversations moved from face-to-face to social media. The big-tech quickly figured data was a bigger goldmine than they were taught by professors in ivy-league management institutes. Billion of dollars were poured into acquiring consumer data leading to further innovation to get more attention of the consumer. The more the attention, better was the moolah.

Unfortunately, in all the excitement of enjoying the power of connecting with thousands, many of us started living our lives on the likes and comments of social media posts. And this created the trouble we today see in society. The lack of conversations, increase in loneliness, and the constant phone notifications have shifted from mere annoyance to an epidemic — especially over the last half-decade.

“There is no point deleting the apps if you cannot take them off your mind. First, accept that there ‘is’ a problem and then write down the reasons that compel you to open an app. Then create a log and revisit them after a week…”

I was beginning to explain my friend and he blurted, “Do you remember Saahil from our school? He just posted a pic of his new house in Toronto. He was so dumb in school, no? How did he do it? By the way, why don’t you join our school WhatsApp group…” He wasn’t even listening to me.

If you are also as addicted as my friend, do look deep within. In a world where tech firms take pride in fusing artificial intelligence with neuroscience to predict what your brain will think next, and basis that personalise the apps that you use, it is best to revert to being human and not the next guinea pig helping in the race towards bottom of our minds.

Do you remember your comments, likes, or shares on social media a week back? They create a false sense of your feeling connected to the outer world, while you actually stay within the four walls. With so much content on apps to consume, it will erode your concentration, capacity to focus and add to the overall stress in life.

Give yourself a mental break, pick up a book, play with a child, cook a new dish or listen to music. You would remember and smile thinking about them for a long time. The choice is yours.

This article was first published in Khaleejtimes Here. 

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