There’s a saying that goes something like,
“When you’re 20, you care what everyone thinks, when you’re 40 you stop caring what everyone thinks, when you’re 60, you realise no one was ever thinking about you in the first place.”
Back in February, I was at that point in my life where I wanted to get things done and move faster. And like most people having an existential crisis at this age, I wanted to figure out my purpose in life, find a vision for the future. Contemplating the disastrous changes in my habits, I realised my screen time had significantly increased on Instagram. All this while, I was mostly consuming loads of content, influencer heavy garbage, and algo driven feeds.
The infinite scrolling and automatically playing videos came in as a perfect recipe for instant gratification and stimulation. I’m an all or nothing person and realised that deactivation or uninstallation wasn’t something for me.
Well, for starters, it isn’t the easiest to completely remove something you have put effort in building. Not that I had thousands of followers but the subtle attachment and time spent in building this virtual identity gives you a false notion of connectivity. The world and everything in general just seems so large and moving fast.
The first few days came with withdrawal symptoms and loneliness. The brain given how magnificent it is, instantly tries to hook up with other available mediums of gratification, aka other social media apps. There was a void to be filled. I started spending my days reading, or just heading for long walks, or digging deeper into investing. Running everyday by far was the best habit I got hooked on.
One of my friend’s recently asked me, “How many people reached out after you deleted the account?”
And to start with, it took more than 2 weeks for someone to notice and text me. This made me realise that the virtual world where we are constantly stimulated by likes, comments, replies to stories isn’t really a substitute for real communication. It is no way similar to meeting in person, or calling and reaching out people. All that the notifications, likes, dislikes do is nudge your brain into a chain of thoughts, and oodles of instant gratification. Unless you are in the system actively producing and interacting with content, your absence might not be even noticed.
This is not an attempt to moral police or encourage people to delete their social media/Instagram. Some people might be perfectly able to balance their time and multitask. But sometimes, all we need is to take a step back and think, “Is this is what I really want from life ? Is this going to provide me with meaningful outcomes ?” If you have goals, aspirations, or simply are on journey to find yourself, a search for who you are, then this thought might be worth contemplating.
What I also realised is social media or Instagram has become into something where we are living for people that we may never ever meet, all the while neglecting those who really matter. May be all we need is to disconnect a little from this virtual identity, and to live in the moments that matter by connecting more with your friends and family.