Fasting on Social Media

We live in a time when a goldfish has better attention span than us. After the advent of Smartphones and Tabs, our attention span has dwindled from 12 seconds in Year 2000 to 8 seconds in Year 2013, found researchers from Microsoft. Attention span of a goldfish is found to be 9 seconds. So, technically if Miss Goldfish is your classmate, it would be less of a surprise if she happens to be the topper of your class!

I celebrated the last week as “No Social Media Week”. For an individual like me who spends most of his time on internet, it’s nowhere less than a Herculean effort to live a life of a Sanyasi! Such is the nature of Social Media: More addictive than any drug and even more harmful in the longer run if not used in a controlled manner. Imagine 7 days without WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. No freaking kidding! Well, with all my might put together, I was able to do away with all these temptations of checking my phone (It’s smart, don’t forget) every 5 minutes, opening Facebook in a new tab while doing some important work and again responding to the messages instantly to avoid any apocalyptic situation I might have to face if I didn’t do so. Weird as it may sound, but this one week ordeal was worth the every click I made in my computer screen. I kept myself safe from all those hashtag abuses that we encounter every day, those non-stop Candy Crush requests, all those narcissistic selfies with distorted faces and some catchy or rather crappy lines and lots and lots of useless trending topics and information.

Has this thought ever crossed your mind that ever since we have got our hands on smartphones and internet, we seem to be overly connected to a world which knows just 0 and 1 and nothing more than that? Did you notice that your lifestyle has drastically changed? If you compare yourself with yourself: Before and after you had a smartphone, what negative changes have walked into your days and nights? Well, some of you might argue that your phone helps you a lot in doing countless important things such as booking a cab, buying clothes, ordering food, having a big network of people (How much do you care about all of them?), having text conversations (How many times did you delete your message and sent a totally different from what you had originally in your mind?) and other things I can’t think of right now. Agreed a hundred percent! But, today I am not going to talk about how good the technology is but want to tell you how bad it can be. Perspective must be something! Technology is a magic wand that we have been given to use for our own good, however, not realizing the fact that the wand is using us stealthily. All those science fiction movies which predicted that machines will rule us one day, seem to be coming true. Scary!

smartphone-users

Image Credit: Arlene Martin

 

We live in an ever-connected world.  We know so many people and also so much about them. And sometimes it’s not a good news. In social platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram or take any other ones which help you connect and share information with others, people including me usually share information that creates an image of them they want to create. While doing so they just share the info which is mostly positive about them. And being human, when we see others enjoying their lives, we feel envious, jealous and sometimes depressed. Although, in real world, everybody’s life is a mixed bag filled with little sunshine and some rainy moments. One of my friends was worried about everyone getting promotions and good jobs except him. Another felt really jealous of people who were his classmates and now are working in US and Europe. Do you get what point I’m trying to make? The fear of missing out makes us stick to our phones and check notification every once in a while, explain researchers.  And this behavior of ours makes us to live in the most distracted times of this era which has shortened our attention to things which really need it the most. Tweens, teens and adults in their early twenties are the ones most affected by this digital addiction. And the bigger problem is that they don’t even know it!

We are devouring information every minute in an amount that has led to another fancy problem called Big Data and whole IT world is trying to solve it. Funny, isn’t it? So, why am I writing this? What is rudimentary problem here? Is technology bad for us? Of course not! So where is the problem? The problem is that we don’t know how to use it most efficiently. When you buy a smartphone, it has a manual on what are the features available in the phone and how to use them. What it doesn’t explain to you is how to effectively make use of the technology which is in your favor. Neither do I have a list on “N ways to use your smartphone effectively” nor am I interested in making one. Rather I will tell you this. Every instance you check notifications and feeds while doing something important, it takes some of your energy and focus away from your real work. We have limited time in a day and if you have noticed that our lifetime is also finite. Do you want to spend this time scrolling a web page full of activities of others? Of course not! Go out and explore. The whole world is waiting out there. If you have younger siblings and friends, guide them not to overuse technology or tell them what is useful for them on internet and how should they use it.

Internet to 21st century is what electricity was to 19th century. Like electricity, use it wisely. I love technological advances that we have made so far and it is for our good. Technology is for us, not the other way around.

In this attention seeking world, don’t lose yours! Good luck!

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