How sweet it is to be rid of you

Deleting facebook and twitter from my cell phone has enhanced my mental freedom and creativity

Photo by Borzoo Moazami on Unsplash

After weeks of scrolling on Facebook and Twitter several times a day and finding nothing but crap, I deleleted both apps from my cell phone. I have no reason now to look at the small screen except to check email or respond to phone calls or messages. I have been released from a prison I created. The freedom is exhilirating.

When Facebook first became widely popular it was a unique and wonderful way to connect with long lost friends and relatives. Wishing each other on birthdays and viewing cute baby photos or vacation pictures was entertaining. As social animals we crave human contact and the feeling of being connected to the world at large. Facebook served an important role in fostering that connectivity across time and distance. Twitter came along and we could suddenly express our thoughts, prejudices, praises and insults for those we despise freely and read the comments of celebrities and politicians.

The feeling I now have while on these apps is akin to being by myself at a large event where there is a huge crowd and a lot of noise where I don’t know anyone but I am desperately trying to catch snatches of conversation to feel part of the event. I have been to many such events during my corporate life and it was never fun. Meaningless snippets of conversations with complete strangers forgotten within seconds of their occurence.

As the use of these social platforms has grown exponentially the initial feeling of connectivity has been replaced by postings from political committees, celebrities, fake news and ridiculous ruminations of politicians. All this noise takes up much mental capacity and provides no real food for thought to nourish our brains that use 20% of the total energy input of the body. I do not want to waste even a tiny fraction of it reading what people did or are thinking about doing at that moment or thinking of doing in the future or their unsolicited opinions on anything.

Instead of all this noise that was dominating my time, I have chosen to see programs on Great Courses on history or philosophy that really interest me or watch youtube videos to learn a new craft. I have learnt knitting and crocheting from youtube videos and find that I am good at both. I am learning about ancient philosophy, history and the effect of music on the brain.

Recognizing the strong social drive of humans it is still difficult for me to comprehend the incredible pull of these social media apps in an age of hyperactivity where people are continuously engaged in multitasking and have no time to talk to other humans in their immediate vicinity. It is a common sight to see entire families sitting in restaurants waiting for their food looking at their small screens and not at each other and then gobbling the food put in front of them without saying a word to each other. They would rather live vicariously relishing the thoughts and feelings of people they have never met and will never encounter over their family who are sitting in front of them.

I have seen college students congregated during breaks all staring at their cell phones and not chatting with anyone. When I was a college student the best part of going to college was the camaraderie of fellow students and the stories and jokes we told each other. Where did all that go? How can these young people become proper social creatures when their only socializing is through a small screen? They go to the movies and turn on their cell phones to start scrolling or texting. It is incredibly annoying and I want to ask them what is so urgent and important to miss the movie and check the phone. Instead I just growl and loudly say “ turn it off” loud enough for the whole theater to hear.

I used to believe that the novelty of constant connectivity would pass . Instead it has now become an obsession. Panic sets in if the battery is too low. My advice to all the FOMO followers is to delete the apps and increase their creativity and incidentally enhance battery life. As Gertrude Stein said “there is no there there”. Use the phone as a phone and call someone instead of texting. Choose to be happy instead of obsessively searching for meaning in meaningless chatter in an increasingly meaningless social milieu.

Wannabe writer and voracious reader. Love traveling and observing local cultures and traditions. Lived in India, Egypt, Singapore and retired in the Bay Area.

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