Tell us about something you’ve tried to quit. Did you go cold turkey, or for gradual change? Did it stick?
A couple of years ago if you’d have told me I’d be addicted to something, I’d have laughed at your face. But here I was, a cold December night, watching Tom Haverford struggling to live a week without a screen. And as he made up a board with pictures he tried to double tap and swipe left, I realised that I had become him.
My mornings start with checking WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Snapchat. It’d inevitably make me late. The next struggle is having breakfast: a phone in my hand, checking for more updates: Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, and sometimes even YouTube. After this, as I board the public transport- again I browse through everything: more often than not spending time reading fanfiction. And multiple times during a lecture, I’d have the urge to check if I missed a message, or a call. I spent most evenings chatting with someone or the other, and that’d be the end of the day.
Watching Tom Haverford made me realize that I can’t be him, even though I totally am. So I decided to spend an entire week off social media (and got a lot of hate for it), including WhatsApp.
When I first told my friends, they all laughed at me, thinking it was some kind of a joke. Then they told me I can’t do it. Then they emotionally blackmailed me. But Tom was my inspiration: I knew that I was quickly going down that road.
The next question was- When? If it were to be postponed, it was never going to happen, that was for sure. So I chose the most inappropriate time of the year: Christmas. I had a lot of work for the weekend, if it meant no communication at all- at least not the convenient ones. So I rushed through it, and got my final dosage that weekend. Come Sunday midnight, I ended up deleting everything on my phone.
To be honest, Monday was the worst. I kept thinking I was going to miss out on something very important in everyone’s life. I had plans with two set of friends, so my evening was booked out (thankfully). My hands were shaking and I really wanted to reinstall, at least, WhatsApp. And my friends weren’t helpful either- they mailed (I had told them to email me if it were urgent) me telling me to come back, and that I cannot do it at all (thanks, you guys). It completely didn’t help that I was waiting for people to mail me. But, anyway, the first day was the worst: I didn’t do anything useful, I was extremely anxious and jittery, and I couldn’t concentrate on anything.
The next day was a little easier. I had a wine bottle to clean up and put fairy lights into. I had a couple of hours to sleep off the previous night’s sleepover.
By Wednesday, I was in a much better position. It was also a friend’s birthday, so by the time I got up (around noon), and happily watch Parks and Rec, it was time to leave. It was difficult explaining why I was off Social Media to a bunch of friends who were at my neck the instant I told them it was just to detox. It was worse than others asking me if there was someone I didn’t want to talk to, and if that were the case, they’d happily handle him.
By Thursday, I didn’t want to come back. I wanted to delete all my accounts, and live. And by Friday, I genuinely wanted to stay off, and I knew, my purpose was served. So when I was blackmailed Friday evening, I came back on everything. I hadn’t told many people, which I’m sure left them wondering a little, but I didn’t want to chat. At all.
I wouldn’t say it was the most insightful week of my life, because how much more should I exaggerate? My Fear Of Missing Out hit me extremely hard, and that probably was the worst part of this experiment. But I also felt calmer. And by the end, I’d learnt that those who had to, would happily stick around even if I were to not talk to them, or cause them the greatest inconvenience. I also learnt that I was not the fairest to some people in the past.
The best part is that even though I have caved in to the pressure of ‘chatting’, I don’t feel the urge to check my phone every 2 minutes. It’s a great feeling to work for 30 minutes without worrying if I missed an important thing. I know I’ve also stopped mindlessly scrolling.
And the worst part? Looking at adorable puppies on Instagram.