I hopped on the 6.52 train home straight after the gym, as I did most nights. I strategically sat at my usual seat so limited number of people could sit beside me, plugged my headphones in and opened Instagram. Once I was done with that I trolled through Facebook & then snapchat.
I’m generally very conscious of being present, taking in my surroundings and am often aware of the amount of time I, & those around me spend on our phones. I’m one of those people that shake my head in disbelief at the mere number of people on public transport and in the world who have their noses in their devices.
But on this day, I was one of those people. And I was disgusted.
The next time I looked up from my phone was when the announcement came across he intercom telling me that we were pulling into my stop. How did we get here? I looked up at the unfamiliar faces that surrounded me. I had an ache in the back of my neck from hanging my head down for a prolonged period of time and I didn’t even notice that these people were on the train, despite the fact that we had intimately spent the last 20 minutes together. I hadn’t listened to any of the music that was apparently playing in my ears.
I had just lost 20 minutes with my nose in my phone, obliviously unaware of what was going on around me. I could have been held at gunpoint and wouldn’t have known. And what did I accomplish? Probably a feeling of inadequacy as I compared my life to these photos of people in tropical countries, driving high end cars, with perfect bodies while I sat here on a gloomy Melbourne evening with rain pattering on the window.
Unfortunately, I soon realized that this was event was not isolated. I started to notice that progressively, over the past few weeks the time I spent on social media started to significantly increase. It was like my go-to whenever I needed to kill time.
Waiting in the lift. On the train home (not to work because, sunrise). Warming up at the gym on the bike. Before I went to bed. Waiting for dinner to cook. Waiting in a queue. Watching TED talks. When my partner was on his. Waiting for coffee (this happens a lot). At work when I was waiting for someone to answer their phone. (WHAT)
How. Bad. Is. That?!
I wouldn’t necessarily care about, or even take notice of what I was looking at. I was aimlessly scrolling because it had become a habit. I was so out of tune with myself that I felt so incredible uncomfortable when I had to just wait and be.
I think in today’s world we think we always need to be busy or doing something and unfortunately that doing had become something that was killing my brain cells.
I am not this person. I do not want to become this person. I’m an advocate for being present, sitting still, consciously living and looking around you no matter where you are because otherwise, life will pass you by and you won’t remember a thing. But I hadn’t been practicing this for a few weeks and it really, really started to take it’s toll.
I was unfocused, agitated, would jump from one task to another and feel so uncomfortable standing anywhere if I didn’t have something to look at or do.
So I ditched Instagram for a week. I don’t care about Facebook and Snapchat is kind of a ‘been and gone’ sort of thing but Instagram, that’s a dark portal where you can scroll for hours and continuously come across something new
In the week I ditch the gram I noticed a few things. I had a lot of time on my hands during the day that I could utilize in a much, much more positive way. Time that was being filled with mind-numbing neuron-burning social media.
I lost touch with my meditative and mindful side. In addition to spending too much time on the app I started to get genuinely pissed off at it’s content. In fact, it infuriated me sometimes, the amount of fake ass bullshit I see people posting about how positive, happy and amazing they are when in fact, they’re riddled with anxiety and do nothing but bitch and moan when you see them. People preach about how healthy they are and portray this image of balance and well-being, when I know full well they’re consumed by eating disorders and do 3 hours of cardio a day. Relationships that are represented as perfect but behind closed doors all they do is fight and cheat.
I really, honestly just couldn’t handle it anymore.
It’s really starting to have a negative impact on society and the way we view our own lives.
Technology can be incredibly powerful. But it can also be a harmful drug people turn to when they feel uncomfortable or bored. I think social media has enabled us to connect with people in ways that have never been possible before. It has enabled us to have a positive (or negative) impact on people we would never have been able to reach. It has allowed us to instigate relationships and friendships with people that would otherwise be out of our reach. But when this means of connection substitutes real, genuine connection that takes place in the real world, that’s when problems arise.
Now that I am fully aware of the negative impact I let it have on my life, I make a conscious effort to look up and notice. I take in my surroundings and I appreciate those around me and the day I have before (or behind) me. When I’m doing cardio at the gym, I focus on my breathing or the burning in my lungs. I’m more focused and more productive at work – when I’m waiting for the other end of the phone to pick up I’m in the present moment thinking about what I want out of the conversation I’m about to have. When I’m watching TED talks I’m actually watching, listening and learning from them. Which I think is what they’re actually made for? I focus on one task at a time. I’ve started smiling at strangers again. Before I sleep, I meditate.
Prior to my ban I was doing these things but I wasn’t really doing them, if you know what I mean? I was halfheartedly, going through the motions but wasn’t participating in them. Or I was for a few minutes until I got bored and looked at my phone.
People think social media is real life. Look around you. The wind you hear and feel. The sun on your face. The touch of a lover and a conversation with a long lost friend – THAT is real life.
I hate the fact that I lost touch with my inner self. I despise the fact that social media can be like a plague in today’s world. But it’s only like that if I let it and I refuse to let it be such a big time-filler from here on out.
Did I miss it? No, not really. It’s a habit. It’s a dangerous habit that is a leech of time. Time that could be spent doing things that better me like learning, reading, meditating, socializing and just being.
I do not want my life to pass me by without being present anymore and I don’t want a fictitious portal to suck any more time and energy out of me.
I’m now mindfully aware of the amount of time I, and those around me spend on our devices and it’s become a focal point for me to limit the amount of time I spend with my phone in my hand. You should take notice too.