I entered the meeting feeling really shy, wondering what will happen, I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket, one new notification. I was about to reach it but I saw a board, “No phones within 500 meters of this site”. I quickly switched off my phone and shoved it into my bag.”
The introductions begin.
“Hi, I am Ria”
“Unless I get minimum 250 likes on my photos, I can’t do anything, it’s like my mind doesn’t work, the other day I put up a photo of me and my cute puppy and it got just 110 likes, I was ruined, I couldn’t eat. I mean can you imagine, usually my puppy alone gets around 150 likes, and here we are, together and still only 110”, she completed and broke down in a sob.
I was really nervous, my problem dint seem half as bad as her, I wanted to leave, I thought I could handle what I had on my own, but now it was too late.
“Hi I am Rahul, naam toh suna hi hoga”
“I am a stalkoholic, no matter who the girl is I have to stalk her, so once my parents set me up with a girl for arranged marriage and instead of asking her about her likes and dislikes, I just kept talking about myself because I already knew her best friend’s name is Anjali, (which is a great co incident, because, I like best friends with that name too). Also I knew that, She likes Chinese food, (which she should have guessed when I suggested we meet at Radhakrishna Chinese Corner) and her favourite movie is Badri Ki Dulhaniya. Anyway, she rejected me because she thought I was highly inconsiderate and self obsessed. My parents got really mad at me. Tell me, how do I explain to her or any girl that I already know her better than she knows herself. My parents have cut off my allowance now, that’s why I am here”, he concluded with a heavy voice.
It was my turn, I was feeling awkward, I cleared my throat and started.
“Hi I am Surabhi, and I am a scrolloholic”
“It all started on the day the wifi was down and my data was over, suddenly I felt a stinging pain in my thumb, it was shivering, moving up and down in rapid motions, screaming to me, give me something so scroll. That’s when I knew I had a problem. I keep scrolling through Facebook, no matter where I am, in the bathroom, while watching a movie, in the middle of love making, tagging people in memes, liking posts that would tell others I care about world peace and poverty, sharing the latest feministic rant, I was at it, all day, all night long, but like every addict I thought it was nothing I couldn’t handle. ”
This is when Ria grabbed my hand, maybe she saw the shiver in my thumb.
“And then one day when my phone had gone for repair and the spare phone dint support my 4g card, the unexplainable happen, my thumb started scrolling through my contact list for no rhyme or reason. It kept doing this for half an hour, until it got tired and accidentally called an ex. That’s it, that’s when I decided I had to do something before my thumb’s addiction ruins my life, that’s why I am here”
At the first meeting itself I decided to delete my account, no deactivation, no deleting the app, straight out deleting my existence from Facebook.
I knew I could do it now I that I had the support of my sponsor, who also happened to be my watchman, he was a brave man, as soon as Reliance Jio announced free data he got himself a Micromax, he used to happily play Bhojpuri songs loudly day and night on youtube, soon his coujin from Bareilly told him about Facebook, he joined and that was the end of it, he couldn’t start or end his day without sharing a photo of Bholenath on his timeline. There have been other incidences that are too painful for him to recall such as, this one time there was a robbery in the building that he couldn’t prevent and he knew it was because he shared Sherwali Mata’s photo only to 9 people instead of 10, but on the day on which Jio announced that they are going to withdraw free services, he had an emotional break down, he just couldn’t trust phone companies anymore. He sold his phone, bought his wife jhumkas and has been using Nokia 1100 ever since. Every time I enter my building people think he is thokoing salaam (saluting) to me but really he’s only showing me his Nokia phone to remind me I have to stay on track.
After pressing the delete button I had serious withdrawal symptoms, for a few days, I was really disturbed. I roamed disoriented on the streets demanding everybody to like me, all I got was a few pokes signifying get out of my way.
But soon enough my life turned around, for the better.
This is how deleting Facebook permanently changed my life:
Freeing Mental Space.
I have stopped constantly twiddling with my phone and filling any empty space such as waiting for next television show to start/dinner to be served/public transport to arrive/sleep to arrive while lying in bed, with social media. I discovered there is this new thing I can do when I have free time between tasks, it’s called relaxing!
I was under a false illusion that I am very busy, when in fact I wasn’t doing anything productive
For some reason I always complained that I dint have the time to do the things I liked. Facebook created a false illusion that I was constantly doing something, when I was really just reading how-I-lost-20-kgs-posts online. When I stopped using Facebook I realised, I had a lot of free time which was spent under the illusion of doing an activity that dint add anything to my life, except for anxiety over not being at a luxury resort in Bali for my honeymoon (or over the fact that there might be no honeymoon anytime soon).
The satisfaction of completing one activity
Now that there is no Facebook in my life, if I have half an hour free in between doing two tasks, I spend that time reading five pages of a book, meditating for twenty minutes or just jotting my thoughts down in a journal, and at the end of the day I feel either relaxed because of the meditation and the cathartic writing or I feel completely satisfied at having completed at least about quarter of a book.
I don’t feel the pressure to wish friends on birthdays
Honestly, I am a lousy phone conversationalist, I literally just hold the phone in my hand and breathe when the other person stops talking (which creeps people out so much that on Halloween as a practical joke they make their friends call me), it’s worse when it’s somebody who I haven’t spoken to since months.
When I was on Facebook and it told me that wishing a person is going to make his or her day, I would feel immense pressure to do do it or I felt guilty for being a grouchy old woman with no cheer in me(which is true!).
After deleting Facebook, I realised that I don’t give too many fucks about random people’s birthday (read anybody’s birthday unless it’s my mother, father, brother or boyfriend if he existed) but I only wished people because I was scared when my big day comes, there’d be no wishes.
I feel like sometimes we continue to fulfil certain social obligations because we want others to do the same for us.
Sans Facebook I feel free to wish/interact with only all only those who I really care for and as far as my birthday is concerned, I am prepared for my phone screen to look something like this.
Living under a rock is has made me much happier and increased my tolerance for social interaction
I thought I needed information about everything(and everyone), I needed to know what who was trolled on the internet, what topic is trending, social media is how I got most of my news and most of the times the news would be the type that would either upset me or made me think why is the world such a mean place, that’s when I realised this is not what I want, I don’t care how a certain author wrote something on twitter and how people trolled him, I don’t care if the chai-wala becomes a model or takes over Brooke Bond. I don’t care about being updated with the latest current affairs to sound smart at social events, regardless of my level of knowledge of worldly affairs, I would still be awkward as fuck in a social setting, because I suck at small talk.
What I care about is what a person really feels, I want to know people up close, I want to hear their authentic thoughts and talk about how they deal with their good and bad days, and I can do that better over a glass of old monk than on Facebook.
Okay let me tell you a situation, A has graduated from college, A goes backpacking to Spain to celebrate his graduate-hood, A has uploaded photos of drinking wine in Valencia, getting smashed by tomatoes in Buñol(never mind famine situations in the world), partying till like a mofo in Malaga and various other cool stuff.
Now that A has come back, why the fuck would you want to know about that same trip again, considering how you have already lived it with him on Facebook but…if you were to meet A at a party and ask him what is up, I bet you a trip to Spain or Indian wine whichever you are likely to pay up for faster that he would talk about this very trip and his recent graduation, which would be the world’s most pointless conversation for me, but now that I am not on Facebook, A is much more tolerable to me (Also, did you guess what A stands for?).
I’m not quick to judge other people now
I don’t automatically judge somebody before I meet them now. I had this really embarrassing habit of meeting a new person and immediately checking their Facebook profile to see if we have any mutual friends;
if yes, are they cool?
if no to check recent posts to gauge the emotional and social status of the said person.
This not only made me a sick little detective, it prevented me from interacting with different kinds of people and turned me into an annoying little label maker, where I decide from before hand what kind of person somebody is based on his or her Facebook profile; which by the way is as good a proof of a person’s true personality, as a xerox of the passport of a really young looking person’s age (specially when he or she is trying to enter a club). Now, when I meet a person, I behave like a decent human being and not force a Facebook check on that person (because I can’t) and graciously allow that person to be whoever he or she wants to fucking be.
I can stay at home on Saturday nights
I am an old lady in a young woman’s body, complete with early rheumatism, forgetfulness and crabby nature. I hate going out of my house and contacting with other human beings unless I am under the influence of alcohol and considering how I am an out of work writer, I cannot afford to be under the influence of alcohol that often, so I prefer to sit at home.
However, when I was a compulsive Facebook-er and I saw how everybody’s Saturday night was being done right, I felt like I am doing something drastically wrong by lying on my sofa and watching Crime Patrol; so like any self respecting pretentious human being would, I used to make myself wear half decent clothes (I have the fashion sense of a homeless person, but on that later for sure) and go and have some fun just so that I have something to throw on throwback Thursdays, believe me it was tiring. Now, I throwback a pillow on my head and sleep at 10 pm on Saturdays and that’s done me so much right.
It’s been two months since I quit Facebook and I have read 26 books already!
My attention span has improved drastically now, considering how I don’t feel the need to check my phone every five seconds because there is nothing to check on it (the hate and trolling on twitter and the competition on medium keeps me away from scrolling; I am a complete weak ass).
Please Note: It helps that, I am not on Snapchat or Instagram either.
Now that I have completely done away with check-social-media breaks, I have devised a new system, which is everywhere I go, I either carry a physical book or have at least two e-books downloaded on the phone so that whenever I get bored I can indulge in book stories instead of snap stories.