A trip to the Internet World, take 2 (Social Media fasting)

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

The internet seems like a blessing to this generation. Now, who does not know what the internet is? Even kids under the age of ten years know when they do not have an internet connection. Sharing and accessing information has been made easier, but on the flip side, once something has been shared on the internet, it cannot be undone. Mankind was so smart to invent the internet, and as with all inventions, the intentions are usually good. Of course, it is for the betterment of the standards of living. That is why we continue to do more inventions on the internet, and the motivation is that there is a higher demand for the services, or the consumption is increasing. Almost everybody is aware of the availability of the internet.

For most of us, we have become addicted to the internet, so much that we cannot stay even a few minutes without checking our phones. The internet, with all its advantages, has its own nightmare as well. Well, maybe I should go back to duality and say that it has a dark side and a light side. Much has been written and said about the internet, but my concern is the amount of time that we spend on it, especially the younger kids.

Kids that are below the age of eighteen years are spending less time outside and more time on their gadgets. They are mostly playing games and using their social networks to communicate. While the kids are perceived to be tech-savvy, they are subject to perpetrators in the internet world. There are people who are constantly looking for those to take advantage of, and nowadays they do not run short of victims. Parents on the other hand seem to be left behind in this race, with most of them claiming that they cannot cope with the advancements anymore. They think the developments are happening faster than they can keep up. Most parents are in fact, still stuck in the good old days before the invention of the internet.

Young adults from the age of 18 to 30 years are also spending a lot of time on their social networks. In this day and age, if you do not own at least one social network account, you are considered so outdated, or too old school. In this world of comparison, we have people developing depression and anxiety because they feel like they do not meet the requirements of their peers. People have lost their sense of control, either this, or they are not just utilizing it.

Social networks have become the most visited dating scenes as people rarely meet on physical dates. Most relationships are initiated in chat rooms or direct messaging platforms. While we have gotten a handful of successful love stories, or ‘happily ever after’ stories with these relationships, most of them do not last long. A good number of them just end as easily as they started (easy come, easy go). With the internet, we meet people from all divides, and we get all sorts of information. Most information is usually free, you do not spend anything other than your time to access it. This article today sounds serious, but I would like to lessen the temperature just a bit, so let me share a small story of my own.

While most of my agemates had already acquired smartphones by the time we were in high school, I first used one in my second year of study at University, and it was not even mine. This was in 2017, and back then, I felt like I was always left behind.  I was not the only one who had these thoughts. My friends would always wonder how I managed to stay comfortable without a smartphone. I used to tell them that I was okay since I had accepted the fact that I did not own one. There was nothing that I could do about it. Of course, the pressure from my peers used to get to me, as they would tell me of their encounters from their social network experience. I was so envious of their experience, but at the end of the day, I consoled myself that I would also use a smartphone one day.

I finally came to own a smartphone in my final year of study. This was in 2019. By this time, most of my peers were into their third or fourth phone, as they had to replace their phones which were either damaged or lost. I wasted no time in joining social networks and spent more time on the internet, but what I did more was get information rather than share my own. As an introverted person I usually cared too much about my privacy, and I was also aware that putting information on the internet was making it available for anyone to access and do with it as they wished.

Making an overdue entrance into the internet and social networking space late enabled me to exercise some sense of control. It was easier for me to decide how much time I wanted to spend on the internet. To this day, I still exercise this control and I have found a name for it. I call it social media fasting. This practice has immense benefits, and I have shared the same with my friends, but everybody says that they cannot do without the internet. How have we become a slave to the internet?

There are various content creators on the internet, and they are always looking for consumers for their content. The language for the internet seems to be that things should be made flashy and look as real as possible. This is the only way you get peoples’ attention. And doesn’t everybody like the conspicuous nature of the internet? It is the colours that sell nowadays. The words also make an impact, but we must not forget that addiction has been created, and people seem to be bowing to the quenching of the desires of the pleasure hormones.

We feel good when we keep logging into our social media accounts. We are always curious about what the so-called influencers have posted or said. Some of us are so dependent on the opinion of others. We call them trendsetters. If they wake up one day and say that food X is bad, then you drop it from your diet. If they say that practice Y is the real deal, then you start doing that immediately, and you keep logging in so that you do not miss those updates. We belong to a generation of individuals who are so disconnected from themselves but are connected to the internet and the external world always. One would think this would be advantageous, but it has proven more disadvantageous.

People can hardly sit down and have a long conversation without taking short breaks to peep into their social networks. Most of us see more trees on our phones than in the fields outside of our houses. The outside world seems, more of the artificial world and the internet is becoming more real. The world of comparison has driven most to lose hope and even go as far as committing suicide. Most people have been bullied, and some have been kicked out of social media groups and shunned for not fitting in because of one reason, or the other. My routinely social media fast helps me to dedicate my time and attention to other areas of my life that also need growth. Not everything is reliant on the internet. There is still a lot that one could achieve out of the internet.

It is always good to have a teacher that you learn from, but once you get the lesson, it is good, in my opinion, to walk away from the teacher and go your way. This way, you get to practice what you were taught, and it is also through this practice that you will get to teach others. I have not seen the reason to cling to the internet, as much as I have tasks that are dependent on the internet. I continue to hold the thought that we need to exercise some level of control when it comes to how often, or how long we are accessing the internet.

Put the Wi-Fi off and go spend some time in nature. What will you do with all the information you are always collecting, if you do not log off and put it into practice? So, the choice to take a break, or control your interactions is totally yours, but for the young ones, we need to help them to develop this skill. Have a reason for accessing the internet, and once the task is accomplished, log out and do other things. Some have said that they use their phones a lot because they are bored, so I wonder who taught them that it is not okay to feel bored. How then do you escape to face your boredom and instead hide behind the gadget connected to the internet? Won’t the boredom surface up again and you will need to pick the phone again. This game of, hide and seek, will never end. As soon as you have achieved your aim on the internet, then put your focus on other aspects of life.

There is surely much to say, and of course, much to be done about the internet addiction that most of us are suffering from. This will need an induvial effort just like anything else. Otherwise, we continue to say it is out of control when the whole time we have self-control. Now with the mention of the latter, we enter the field of personality and self-awareness which are very personal. I close this article by asking you dear reader to try out social media fasting. Do it as much as you can. Whether you want to do it daily, or weekly, or monthly, make it mean something to you. I got more inspiration to write about this topic after watching the documentary, Social Media Dangers Documentary — Childhood 2.0. I live you with this prayer. Namaste

“Beloved Source of all that Is, help me to see your face in all that I do, fill my vision with your love and grace.

Help me to remember your name at all times, let it be the first thing that I think about in the morning and the last word that comes from my mouth in the evening

Remind me to love you, to love myself, and to love others with all the strength, with all the breath, with all the love that I have. Thank you. And so it is”.


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