By Paria Ghaderi
Although a simple concept, letting go of our media obsession is a complicated task that I myself am guilty of not mastering. In a social media-driven world we often forget to be human. We are so preoccupied with online occurrences that we forget to take a moment to reflect and be present. Now before you assume that this is yet another cliché article about the “evils” of social media, allow me to persuade you otherwise. In fact, I am in no way permitted to speak about the “corruption” of social media when I myself am “corrupted” by Snapchat, Instagram, and other social media platforms. Just like the average person, I find myself endlessly scrolling through my phone and constantly checking a variety of platforms in order to stay “updated” on all the latest information. So, allow me to assure you, that this article is merely a recount of a social experiment done during the time of quarantine and its effects on us PR pros.
Despite the fact that technology has always been a constant in my life, I must admit that social media and technology as a whole have never influenced my day-to-day habits as they do today. Since the pandemic, I find myself absorbed by social media, looking for ways to be amused. In spite of the fact that technology has made it very easy to communicate and send messages to friends and family. I have found that people hardly make an attempt to connect and keep relationships. Personally, I believe technology is to blame for this lack of human connection.
Image via Pro Bono Australia
Prior to our advanced technology, people often relied on mail, telephone calls, and postcards to hear from family and friends. The very notion of patiently waiting for a letter or hearing the voice of a distant relative over the phone is exactly the type of connection and composure we lack today. Before the popularization of social media, individuals would spend hours talking on the phone and considered it an obligation to check on one another. Nowadays, however, we rarely have enough patience to text our friends let alone call them and actually talk. This lack of patience, on the other hand, makes it very difficult to create real relationships, and the pandemic is no help. Before the pandemic, we were forced to communicate on a regular basis, allowing us to better adapt to different situations and to keep up with our daily relationships. Today, the loss of day-to-day contact caused by the pandemic has intensified our dependency on social media. Consequently, the artificial utopian reality that social media displays further contributes to our lost connection with reality.
Today, the loss of day-to-day contact caused by the pandemic has intensified our dependency on social media.
During this pandemic, I came to recognize how much our growing attachment to social media has forced us to give up moments of togetherness and solidarity. We are no longer patient enough to hear a conversation or quietly read a book without checking our phones. My decaying focus, along with the relationships I was frequently losing, was exactly why I chose to take a two-week break from my cell phone and social media. Not only did I want to understand my own technological dependency, but I also wanted to go back to reading books and enjoy the calmness and cleansing nature of reading. This technology break was my way of self healing and self reflection. I wanted to rethink my relationships and better deal with the friendships I lost during the pandemic. Shortly after turning off my phone, I began to be more aware of my surroundings. I began walking everyday and I enjoyed reading in the park near my house.
Image via Google
As I slowly began to “heal", I reflected on the many friendships I lost during the pandemic. Though it was quite difficult to understand exactly why I lost my relationship with friends that I considered close for so long, I slowly accepted the fact that everyone eventually grows apart. Not having my phone helped me understand why it had taken so long for me to accept the reality of the world—my cell phone was a constant reminder of the memories and relationships I had. Every social media platform displays a world that Is now changed and defaced by Covid-19. Although I did not recognize it then, I now understand that having a nonstop reminder of what was once a reality and is now in the past will cause great anxiety and frustration. Putting my phone aside allowed me to recover my balance and, in a way, get closure for all the things I was persistently upset about.
Moreover, I slowly regained my concentration by reading each page of Gabriel García Márquez’s novel, One Hundred Years of Solitude. This incredible novel helped me recognize the importance of existence, presence, and life’s bitter yet fascinating nature. Throughout the novel, the theme of loneliness prevailed. And I eventually came to realize the importance of taking a break and cherishing every moment because, in the end, every human being is in some way alone, so it is all the more important to take advantage of moments of togetherness.
This journey without technology helped me recognize that the effects social media has on our lives is bigger than what I believed. In a way, our identity is developed and shaped because of social media. Because we are always so occupied with texts, updates, and other kinds of interruptions, we forget how much time social media takes away from our mental health time and our relationships. We fail to appreciate the fact that social media has allowed us to connect on a global level but instead we focus on creating a fake persona that will help us get recognized. We fail to make the most of the present moments that take place everyday and instead move on to the next big thing on social media.
Though social media has many positive qualities, I believe every individual should take a break from it every now and then. If you are too busy or have an occupation that requires the nonstop presence on your phone, try placing a limit on your device. Based on my personal experience, I can assure you that if you turn off the persistent distractions of your phone even for a minute, you will discover things about yourself and your surroundings that you had never recognized before.