We have come to live in a world where we are no longer just looking at material and tangible assets as products. In today’s world, you, me, our information, our likes, our dislikes, even our attention- everything is a product. The world runs on data and as it is rightly said ‘Data is the new gold’. Social media companies like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube have all become active participants in grabbing our attention. So, here’s an amazing insight to Social Media Detox.
A recent documentary on Netflix, ‘The Social Dilemma’ is a real eye opener to this question. It talks about how the big social networking companies are constantly manipulating and influencing us even without our knowledge. This subtle influence is done in such a way that we fail to realize “if you are not buying the product, you are the product.” It makes one wonder, “Are our choices really our own?”, “Are we being manipulated into doing certain things?”. Sadly, the answer is YES.
The pandemic has been one of the biggest teachers in the lives of everyone in the 21st Century. It was a time when we stayed inside our homes and yet were more connected to the world than ever. Such is the power of social media in today’s time. Our daily salvation was going through Instagram, watching videos, posting videos and just being ‘online and available’.
But, among the crowds, there was a section of people (myself included) who did the opposite. There were people who just powered off. They were people who realized that being away from the daily office routine and mundanity of life can actually be a blessing. And then, people who went away from all social media for a ‘social media detox’. Realizing that basking in the feeling of being away from social media for some time was pure joy. No checking for messages as soon as you wake up nor clicking photos of food to upload on Instagram. Also, no scrolling through Facebook to see what others are doing in life. In fact, none of that.
It is your phone usage habits that are responsible for your mental and physical health. It is when you are disconnected that you can truly feel connected. Imagine a life where, all that matters, is your real-time immediate surrounding and people in your vicinity. Come to think of it, the kind of attention and love we can give people just by being present. We have forgotten to pay attention to our real world for more than ten minutes without checking our phones. And thus, forgotten how to make the most of life without being bothered by what goes on in the virtual world. Frankly, this feeling of staying in present, away from the screen is in truest sense a gift. A gift that is long overdue.
The first few days of the detox will feel empty and hollow. As a result there will be an urgency and anxiousness that will make you reach out for your phone every few minutes. Similar to what happens in any detox plan.
But it gradually gets better. As a matter of fact, once our body starts adjusting to the new routine and we busy ourselves with more productive activities such as cooking, reading a book, spending time with our family- the brain stops asking for social media as a mood booster. The mental faculties also get used to the new forms of mood elevation and things fall into place.
When one goes for a Social media detox, the experience will be similar to having withdrawal from drugs. This is so because, the same mental faculties and the same brain pathways are involved for both the activities. Be that as it may, using social media and consuming drugs are almost the same kind of addiction. Both activities are dopamine inducing and give us a feeling of ‘high’ or happiness. For example, simple activities like getting a message/like on Facebook or even reading good comments about self. Such activities trigger the reward areas in the brain and makes us feel pleasure. And it is exactly this pattern that we should seek to break by going on a social media detox.
It is very simple. Just like any other detox, we begin by keeping away our social media profiles. WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and the countless other apps on your phone can be logged out of or deleted.
Next, occupy yourself with activities you enjoy and that are ‘offline’. Physical activities can also be particularly rewarding as they help in boosting the serotonin (‘the happy hormone’) in our body.
Make sure that you do this in batches for a set number of days- 14 days, 21 days and so on.
Once you are done with one cycle of detox, make sure you take some time out to absorb how you feel. Consequently, make a note of it.
And then just like any other detox, keeping doing it at regular intervals. Gradually, you will see how it changes your mental as well as physical health. Remember, it may not be what you want, but in today’s world, it is definitely what you need. So, go ahead, take the plunge and enjoy the snooze off.
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