I had one of the best weekends, I can remember since the last couple of years. On Saturday at around 11am, I decided to go off social media completely. Of course, I continued to stay active on WhatsApp and email (maybe I checked that once or twice in 26 hours), but was off Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media platforms totally.
For the longest time I have been encouraging my patients to go off social media after evening to see an improvement in their sleep, which obviously worked very well. However, I have been stopping myself from doing this because of a mindset and belief that social media was my need. I had to be available to answer questions, do videos, go live, etc. Nonetheless, I went ahead and fasted from social media for exactly 26 hours. I cannot tell you how amazing this fast has been for me.
Its so important to understand that social media is robbing everything away from us – time, health, peace, sleep, self-esteem, confidence, sense of security – everything. It’s a boon too! I can use it to influence masses, help people and I am extremely grateful for that. So, its all about using it the right way – either to influence people or to destroy your life. Just like we have good food and too much good food or good health and too much obsession about health. Excess of anything is what becomes dangerous for our health.
Here are a couple of personal things I want to share that I learned during this 26-hour social media fast.
- I understood what social media does to us – Comparisons
The first thing we check with our clients (adults as well as teenagers) who are undergoing depression and anxiety is how much time they spend on social media and video games. It’s not surprising to know that these people who are in a bad space emotionally spend a lot of time on social media too. Social media makes us subconsciously compare ourselves with others – our thoughts, bodies, how much we have, holidays, dressing sense and so much more. Our minds have been designed to compare, no matter how much yoga, pranayama and chanting you do.
Remember how you used to compare your marks with others when results used to be displayed in school? Everything is unfortunately a comparison – because we want to do better than our friend, colleague or neighbour. The more time you spend on social media, the more you spend time seeing other people’s lives and the more you start comparing, making your own life miserable – leading to issues of insecurity. Insecurity doesn’t mean you have less. Infact the wealthiest people still have feelings of insecurity. Here insecurity means a constant comparison of every aspect of your life, status, finances, your physical appearance with other people leading to a feeling of insecurity because there is a limit to what money can buy. Money cannot buy class. The richest can be arrogant and misbehaved too.
So, in a nutshell, social media makes us compare which makes it an extremely dangerous activity for young girls, teens and even middle aged women because they are constantly comparing themselves with an actor/model who they don’t even know may have even got a cosmetic surgery, photoshopping or air brushing done to look that way. And that’s how body shaming and feeling insecure about their appearances crop up. They think they aren’t doing enough – diet, lifestyle and begin punishing their body with fad diets and exercise programs.
Social media here robs us of common sense, logical thinking and wisdom of intuition. Social media weakens our intuitive skills – the inner voice that guides us to do the right things.
- Social media robs our identity –
A constant exposure to social media robs us of our own identity. It blinds us of our own likes and dislikes just because we want to do what others are doing. It makes us do things we don’t like just so we fit in. For e.g.: the current “Game of Thrones” rage. No disrespect to those who like it, but if you are the one who doesn’t watch it, you are looked upon as if it’s a crime not watching the series and then you are forced to watch it.
- We tend to seek approval and validation through social media –
It’s a human tendency to want to know that we are doing well. Each of us crave for appreciation, appreciation and compliments like you have lost weight, your skin is glowing, etc. While there is nothing wrong with that, we want to get it from real people. People wait for likes or dislikes on their videos or pictures. Let it not be that way because if you are attached to that validation, it can hurt you.
On a personal note, I to have come across instances of trolls or people putting negative comments- which should actually affect me because here I am with an intention of sharing information and there are people wanting to pull you down. But realise, you do not need validation from them. Let people come up personally and say what they do not like about you and appreciate and accept that. This is the kind of validation or approval we need from close and true friends, family, well wishers who truly care for you.
- Information overexposure –
Informationdoes not equal knowledge and knowledge does not equal wisdom. The more information you get, the more gossip you get. The more you see, the more the human mind starts judging. When we spend a lot of time on social media – our talks and discussions start revolving around that too – who wore what at an award festival, who is getting divorced, who is dating whom, who won the court case. All of this in turn fuels more judging. When we judge, we also begin gossiping and spreading rumours which one deplete us of the very energy that can be used in healing, boosting immunity and helping us evolve.
If you find yourself gossiping and rumouring about others, your one hour of yoga, prayers and chants are useless. This is also why choosing the right company and set of friends is so important. Choose groups that discuss ideas and concepts and not people. Your company moulds how you feel about yourself.
- The importance of connect with real people and not virtual –
Reconnect with live people and not virtual people who don’t like us but on social media show that they do. An emoji or a smiley make you feel really happy – but a real smile from a real person? Its priceless and can change everything. An emoji or smiley is not a bad thing to look out for, but id its consuming you, you need to draw a line there. How would you know its consuming you?
Do exactly what I did. Get off social media for a minimum of 24 hours and notice yourself feeling ecstatic because it really improves your sleep.
My experience in a nutshell –
For me, I don’t know if it worked as a placebo as I usually sleep really well, but last night my sleep was very deep. I woke up completely refreshed. My energy levels were high the next day. Stress levels were completely low. Till 12 noon I didn’t even look at social media. I used WhatsApp and email because it’s my responsibility. Since I had more free time, I had a chance to sit down and introspect on all of my achievements in the last 3-4 years. I felt content, whereas social media always keeps you in a competitive mode. It makes you want to do more and more and never feel content because we see people around us achieving more and doing more. I felt content in every aspect of my life and that I can take it easy. I felt I can now focus on only what I need because I am content with everything else that I have.
Really, going off social media gives so much of free time to introspect into our lives, to be in silence and understand and measure what’s going on in your life at this point. Mediation is great but when you completely cut down from social media you really give yourself that space and time. The beauty is you gain time. Time is the most priceless commodity on this planet. We can make and lose and again make wealth, but we can never get the time that we spent back. The people who value their time and who attach value to it are the people who are wise because you will never get that time. Be aware of people who waste your time, get you into unnecessary meetings and confrontations because you will never get that time again. The time you spend with your parents, loved ones, children, yourself – is precious and will never come back. I have been way happier in the last 24 hours than I have ever been in the last couple of months and years. One need maturity and wisdom to decide where you want to spend your time.
A lot of people think we are priced high. Yes, that’s because I value my time. If I am going to give my time, there is going to be a price to it and that price doesn’t come cheap. I value my time. If you value your time, it’s very important for you to decide where you put that time. If there’s a social party that you are going for and if it seems like even a little bit of a waste of time, don’t go because that time will never come back again.
So, I challenge yourself for a complete social media fast on Sundays to begin with. You can use that time to do everything else but not social media. You can choose to still use WhatsApp and emails or can go off it completely too. Shut down social media by about 7 pm on Saturday evening and continue all through Sunday. You are free to choose the number of hours you want to stay off it. I suggest 24 hours because I want you to experience the magic behind this. Watch a movie, TV, communicate with family. If you can stay away from all sorts of electronic gadgets – great! If you can’t do it for 24 hours, do it for 18 hours. If you can’t do it for 18, do it for 16 or 12 hours, but start and then slowly start increase the time. Sundays can be a complete social media fast day. You can still click pictures and upload them later. You don’t have to do it right at that point.
As for me, I am definitely motivated to do this more often. I’m figuring out a way to do it every single day.
Try it and let me know how it serves you!