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  • Vipul Maheshwari

The Social game.

The most time-consuming game ever created.



Warmup

40 minutes on a daily average * 30 days = 1200 minutes in a month.

1200 minutes in a month * 12 months = 14400 minutes in a year.

14400 minutes in a year * 10 years = 144000 minutes in a decade.


On average, if you are using any social platform for around 40 minutes daily for the last ten years or maybe going to spend as in, then you need to spare somewhat around 2400 hours from your life. Well, if asked!!


What can you do in 2400 hours? You could: write a novel, knit a giant blanket, draw a real scale artistic portrait, compose some fine music, torrent a couple of blu-ray movies, build a treehouse, build a new Skillset, excel in a sport, write some articles, read some articles, prepare for a marathon, learn some coding, make a website, get in shape, produce a baby (which I think is hilariously great), plant some trees, meditate for a while, learn some cooking, and you can read this write-up to the last too. The list goes on and I don’t intend to stop growing it. Well, the sky is the limit.


I don’t remember the exact date, but it was amid the first Covid-19 lockdown when I had given a break to the social media platforms. If I have to say more accurately, I would say Instagram as in particular because I haven’t used Facebook for a while now, so it was easy to say goodbye to Facebook, and I don’t have any Twitter or Snapchat account for now.


Apparently, the thought of quitting Social media was deeply implanted in my mind a long time before I actually executed it in real. It’s like a quest or an endeavor that I always wanted to explore in the first place, but I was just adjourning it for days. But wait, before bringing up any subtle piece of advice, what makes me eligible or competent to tell you all this? And why would you listen to me, I am not a WSJ best book author, neither I have achieved an enormous amount of success in any domain nor I am some warrior who has conquered the entire world and the fun fact is, I am still waiting for that day when the Forbes magazine will advert me on their cover? So Back to basic question!

Why would you listen to me?


“Because I am just an ordinary individual like you, who is trying to do some extraordinary things. Simple as that.”

Jokes apart,

In reality, there are no shortcuts in life to reach any subtle place worth going and living. Social media, in reality, sucks a lot of time out of your day. It may be a little entertaining for a while as a stress buster, or sometimes it may also help you get some great insights about the topics that really matter to you, and it is the uppermost strategic tool to market your business or art too. But in the long run, it distracts you from achieving greater and personal victories.


Strength Training

Quitting social media may sound a little skeptical to a lot of you at the first sight but trust me you will miss nothing in reality except some important life-saving commodities including baseless memes, celebrity gossips, motivation plethora, mindless scrolling, political heat-ups, fringy girls, cluttered melancholy lines, and if you are extremely misfortunate, you may miss some cute Cat videos too. Otherwise, you are ready.


If your dawn is replaced by artificial blue light and your dusk time gets conjured up in those short reels, it’s time to wake up.

The first couple of days were really interesting. In the sense of, I would constantly pick up my phone for no apparent reason. Then I would open it and soon I realized there’s really nothing for me to look at on-screen except the time I already knew. I really didn’t know about this cognitive exertion. Subconsciously, I was repeating this same thing a couple of times in a brief span of time, and there was really no underlying reason behind it. I was just doing it.


Upon noticing, I understood there is really nothing inherently addictive about our cellular devices as the true drivers or, to be more specific, the true evils of our attachments to these devices are the extensive hyper-social environments they provide. Thanks to the likes of Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and others, smartphones allow us to carry an immense amount of social environments in our small pockets through every waking moment of our lives.


“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.” “The law of evolution is that the strongest survives!’ ‘Yes, and the strongest, in the existence of any social species, are those who are most social. — from the Survival of the fittest.

Being at the top of the food chain, Humans have developed to be social — a key feature to our success as a wholesome species, but Charles Darwin is talking about the social structures in which we survive do not contain a little over 100 individuals. But this number is much smaller than the billion connections we carry daily in our pockets today.


There is really no doubt that smartphones provide an immense amount of benefits to our society including the actual intent which is to make us social, but their cost is becoming more and more superficial now. Many studies show the links between our smartphone usage and increased levels of depression, anxiety, and poor sleep trends that increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Many of us wish we spent less time on our phones, but somehow we find it incredibly difficult to disconnect. It’s kind of delusional place but why are our smartphones are so hard to ignore?


Injury

If you read enough, you must be familiar with a term called dopamine. It is a chemical produced by our brains that plays a significant role in our motivating behavior. It gets released when we take a bite of our favorite cookie, when we have sex, after we exercise, and, most importantly, when we have successful social interactions. It rewards us for all the beneficial behaviors in a progression context and motivates us to repeat them repeatedly. If I would have to say in a more specific way, this chemical compound rewards us for all those activities that it thinks are more fruitful for us and motivates us to repeat them. But here comes the tip of the iceberg.


When we indulge in any specific type of activity, our brain sees that activity specifically as some kind of stimulus, and referencing that stimulus, it produces a specific type of response that gets associated with our cognitive pattern. For example, when people encounter darkness it creates a “startle” response in the brain, which causes it to release chemicals that heighten a person’s perception of anxiety. While some people can quieten this increased anxiety, others just cannot. Instead, they glorify it on a larger scale, creating an extreme level of fear.


This pattern formation capability is much stronger in humans as compared to other animals due to the extensive number of neural connections we can make. For now, you must be thinking that how all this related to social media usage?

Neuroscientists have shown that rewarding social stimuli like laughing figures, happy faces, positive recognition by our friends and family, a message from our loved ones activate the same dopamine receptors when we do all these other things, It means that we are basically carrying around little dopamine stimulators in our pockets which gives us pleasurable experience anytime we want by just moving our fingers, so it’s not surprising that why we’re constantly distracted by our phones.


It’s the dopamine release that our brain asks from us to feel more pleasurable and, as just as any other gambling game or substance addiction, social media addiction involves broken reward pathways in our brains.


Social media provides us immediate rewards in the form of attention from our daily chaotic life by minimal effort through a quick thumb tap or scrolling. Therefore, the brain rewires itself in that way, making us desire more likes, comments, emojis, and applause on our pictures. According to TED, Brain scans of social media addicts are like those of drug-dependent brains: There is an obvious change in the regions of the brain that controls emotions, attention, and decision making. If you think I am just making up, open a new tab on your browser and just search for the social media addiction on the web and you will realize what I am saying.


Usage of Social media is not only limited to addiction, it is also responsible for various mental health problems. I have seen many people getting deliberately depressed after spending too much time on social networking sites; it is because somehow their usage boils down to one thing and that is comparison.


When you view someone else’s curated life online, whether it is in terms of their high-resolution vacation pictures or watching fit people working out in their tightest fitting gym clothes, or maybe someone’s great hairstyle, it will probably make you over-analyzing every aspect of your life. It’s very easy to see everybody’s perfect pictures online and wonder why everyone life is better than yours, but in reality, everyone on social media is poisoned with the same compound and that is fakeness, and frankly, it is the very nature of social media that causes all of us to be fake.


A study performed by California State University found that individuals that visited any social media site at least 58 times per week were 3 times more likely to feel socially isolated, jealous and depressed compared to those who used social media fewer than 9 times per week.


Regardless of how illogical these comparisons may be, our emotional responses to such images can be so strong that somehow they completely overpower our subconscious sense of logic. It is so heart-wrenching to see that people are getting so much compulsive and hyper aggravated concerning those issues which are not even problems.


So, while we can share that adorable piece of sandwich we had for the brunch, showcasing the best moments of our last night’s party, sharing the horrific skydiving moments from mountains, posting those clumsy beachside vacation moments, this list goes on but, all we’re sharing is a simple narrative, one that with the right filter and snappy status which project an image of a life far better than the one we authentically experience.


“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” ~Steve Furtick


Recovery

I’ll be the very first to admit that quitting social media isn’t very easy. The fear of missing out on something, of course, plays a significant role. From my experience, even if you are not addicted to social media, you’re likely to experience unusual kinds of withdrawal symptoms when you limit your usage. Pat your back, as that’s actually the very first step in being able to successfully limit social media.


In a month you will realize: Shit, I am going to miss a lot of things. But trust me, there is really nothing to peek through the same door repeatedly. It’s full of useless things which only distract you from becoming a better version of yourself. As a piece of personal advice from my side, when quitting social media, start looking for other ways to keep your mind busy so that you can avoid dwelling on the anxiety or uneasiness of being away from your feed. Like, Pick up some new hobby, meditate, exercise, volunteer for some organization, read a wholesome book, watch a movie, or meet to catch up with a friend (Not now though) and as time pass by, Eventually, you’ll realize you aren’t as isolated as you believe.


But in a world where the social environment is in part as a daily routine which is based on our willingness to like, share, and retweet our friend’s content, inactivity on the social media accounts can be perceived by some as an insult or a kind of humiliation from your side.


From my personal experience, there were sometimes when a few people approached me to ask if I’d blocked them or why I am ignoring them. Evidently, I wasn’t replying to their text which they sent on my Instagram account. (For some time I didn’t realize that I need to deactivate the account to make sure people can’t text me.)


But it brought some sense of pettiness out in me, and it showed me how these things can be, in ways, very important to some people. Apparently, I had to make things clear to a lot of people.


“But wait, we have seen you on the Instagram posting pictures and showcasing stories, What a hypocrite .” — Some of my friends after reading this piece.

Accordingly, I don’t have any social app on my phone except Whatsapp (I use it for communication purposes and sometimes to score a little more marks on my online quizzes as being from a tech-savvy IT college we have a kind responsibility to hack into the online assessment system. Don’t make any skeptical stereotype image of me as some kind of threat to the education system, Cause it’s already impaired and apart from that I help my friends too:), Jokes apart!


I think I’m more aware of that, now, because of the detox. I really don’t use my Instagram account anymore until and unless I really need to post and check out something important enough.


If you are an artist demonstrating your art, content creator showcasing a skill, or maybe if you are an entrepreneur outspreading your brand value then social media presence is a must for you to better engage with your respective audience but the pivotal thing is how you make your way in this hyper interacting social media territory. If you have to establish a social media presence professionally, then set boundaries for yourself, such as logging in once in a while to check messages or make some announcements.


As a signing retreat, I just want to add that we can live without social media, and it’s probably for the best. I know you’ll miss out on certain things, but I am highly assured that you’re also going to be happier, focused, and productive because you’ll be less distracted and stressed.


To make this easy for you, don’t become a kind of social monk abruptly. First, limit your time on social media, Eliminate push notifications, Uninstall social media apps, and then suspend your accounts for a while.

And as you’ll see:


“Social media is really not that much social as you think.”

If you are one of those vivid readers who make it this far, As a bonus point I recommend a documentary called “The Social Dilemma” which is on Netflix where tech experts and former employees of social media giants like Twitter, Facebook, Google, YouTube, Instagram, etc talk about how these apps use highly advanced digital surveillance and data mining procedures to control our lives, even without we realizing it. I know most people will pass over, but for those who are really conveyed by this gamble, Please invest 90 minutes of your daytime in this. You will never regret it.


पर्यावरण बचाओ पृथ्वी बचाओ. आवजो .

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