Tech Infliction or Self Infliction

Words by: Naman Sharma

One look at Google’s top results for “social media detox” and it’s going to take less than a hot minute before we equate technology with that one toxic relationship we’ve all been in.

But here’s the thing; “12 Best Social Media Detox Tips” could encapsulate all the guidelines minus the most integral concept number 13 – we don’t need salvation; we need an awakening.  

Divorcing technology has been endorsed by digital detox specialists (yes, it’s a thing) for a while now and those guys have pretty sensible ideas. I mean, if you’re taking your phone to the poo pot, you might need expert advice.

Funnily enough though, some steps to aid in this process include installing meditation apps, using social media via desktops, and limiting screens. The paradoxical nature of a tech environment cannot quite escape us even when we try our best, because there’s always something else.

Then there’s the emphatic “Why You Should do a Social Media Detox Right Away.” Not to be overly critical, but if a reward-seeking mindset is a dominant part of our personality, putting a rubber band around our phones isn’t going to magically snap our broken souls into being. 

A couple of years ago I took a month-long break from Instagram where I’m usually predominantly active. Of course, I was inclined to test out this fad of ‘tune out to tune in’ and it was especially recommended for anyone whose screen time went beyond a couple of seconds. Something had to be very wrong with me. I was sick. And I was going to cleanse myself.

It took a couple of days to let that break up sink in. I was confused because I was living the exact same life. I clicked photos regardless, I needed YouTube to cook, my Fitbit, all my world and local news apps, emails! My God, emails! 

A fortnight in, I started floating in the blissful sea of virtual disconnection, feeling truly liberated in the present. But today, I know I was never actually absent to begin with. 

When I got back on Instagram, I realised I hadn’t made any extraordinary leaps in those 30 days. The detox helped me rewire my social media habits to the extent of posting stories later, restricting my feed to accounts I personally needed the visibility of, and of course, managing the amount of time I invested in it. But I never felt like my life was better off without it. 

So I’ll just come out and say it – technology is the fuel running our planet right now. Bitcoin outplaced gold, silver and even crude oil this year and we still find ourselves amidst this tech debate. “What really is my life?” is a question that we ask ourselves because every time in our history one force became the vehicle to our drive, our minds at some point subconsciously started wondering if we’ve let ourselves become slaves to it. A 9:00am to 5:00pm is often associated with depressing lives today and we assume the worst of it. What we built as an ideal routine targeted at independent survival is now the source of our crashing, apparently.  

Social media doesn’t overshare, people do.

Luddites who frown upon digital nerds don’t want to know what we’re doing behind our screens. How we’re connecting with the world, building designs and dreams, donating funds, receiving and imparting education because of the privilege that is our screen time. Technology has always been boon, but we don’t want to remember San Junipero from Black Mirror because it just wasn’t black enough.

Maybe it’s time we stopped directing our solutions towards the escape and focus on achieving that balancing act. What an exciting time to be alive in and to imagine a technology-free life would be a shame just because we allow our addictions, our habits, our needs, our wants to get the better of us.Let’s stop worrying what Zuckerberg (Hi Mark!) does with our private data for a second here and think — do we know what we’re doing with our real, unfiltered thoughts? Can tech really control us? Do we need to be slaves to who we are? Or we just don’t know who we were before?

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