Dear Arya, I understand how bizarre this must be for you to receive a letter, an actual letter at a time where someone even as young as a two-year-old can access technology to communicate. I hope this letter finds you and your family in good health. It wasn’t that long ago if you go to see that we were independent of social media. Well, to be precise, it was six years back for me. This is my story as to why I deleted all my social media accounts six months back and my experience thereafter.
Like most people, there were many conversations. I came across the negative impacts of social media through my friends and family, but I didn’t pay heed. Everyone on these social media platforms understands the addiction it brings but we choose to ignore it and that’s the reason why these apps thrive. I must add it is not only the number of apps but also the deteriorating mental health of many that have peaked in the last couple of years according to many studies and research.
My Instagram screen time was close to the average time spent by people, which was 60 minutes of my day. That is close to 21,900 minutes in one year. I began to analyse my relationship with my phone over the last few years and my grave addiction to social media.
If only I had spent that time at the gym or spent time with my family or even to meditate, it would have been life-changing. My behaviour and sleep patterns depended on my usage. The more I tried to understand this, I realised how everyone around me, no generation spared, was a victim to this. Our moods and mental health are controlled by an app that only portrays that it’s us who control the app.
The #StatusOfMind survey, published by the United Kingdom’s Royal Society for Public Health, included input from 1,479 young people (ages 14 to 24) from across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The survey showed both positive and negative comments.
I do not want to go through the benefits in detail as the marketing companies have done a fine job making us all aware of them; they are self-identity, self-expression, community building and emotional support. The negatives, in my eyes, seem to be an unfair price we pay.
Here are a few to begin with: poor sleep quality, bullying, anxiety, depression. I believe many of us haven’t had the chance to reflect and introspect as we are always occupied with our phones. Sleep is overlooked by many in our generation, it’s something we do only when our body gives up and can no longer be awake.
Adding to this, we keep our brains occupied with new and purportless information that is not necessary to feed to our brain. Anxiety and depression are triggered because of the constant comparison of the flawless picture-perfect lives depicted by influencers and others. We are aware that they are staged and yet, many are not able to draw the line in their minds.
Not everyone should go to the length of deleting all apps but for me, I’ve found it to be one of the best decisions I’ve made. The 2-3 hours that I would otherwise spend on social media is now spent on my mental well-being which I had ignored for a long time.
Yes, I missed seeing what some of my friends were doing but I feel more connected than ever before, as I receive personal messages and updates from them from time to time.
I also understand that those who earn their bread through these apps, deleting and deactivating will not be an option to them; they must take time to introspect and understand their relationship with the app. As someone who used to fight for more hours in a day, I can vouch for how benefiting this has been in my life—I’ve done better at college, reduced a boatload of negativity, explored my other interests and taken care of my mental well-being.
I believe that we humans act on things we want to understand. In this little anti-social experiment, I have also found many ways to engage with the physical world we live in and appreciate the other forms of art that we can use to communicate. The art of writing letters clearly happens to be one and moreover with you, it’s nostalgic because it reminds me of our boarding school days. I will write to you soon.
Lots of love, Maya