At one point, Dad asked me if I was moonlighting as part co-owner of Google. Not because I was showing signs of extraordinary genius or sudden coding skills or anything even faintly able. The smallest thing I was asked to do, received a static “I’m busy” response. He naturally assumed I was dabbling in the nuclear sciences, or particle physics or something as time consuming and crucial to mankind. My excuse however, was way closer home.
I was hooked on to Facebook.
I do not say this with a sheepish grin or with the slightest amusement. Almost driven to despair, Facebook had become my drug, where I got my daily fix of things to make me feel miserable.
It started off quite innocently. With uploading pictures, and loving the attention that came with it. Loved the oohs and aahs at articles shared. At conversation threads and random jokes. And then came the newsfeed.
Engagements, relationship statuses, new jobs, new babies, new parties… And you’re just sitting there scrolling and overthinking. You begin to unsubscribe from people- maybe you’re feeling like they’re in your face all the time. You start liking pages with Trivia, with quotes, and other *inspiring* tidbits about how to live your life. By the time you’re so full of tumblr quotes and other new offshoots of philosophy, you begin to develop your own strong sense of belief about what’s right. You slowly start trying to defend your belief system- albeit to yourself, but the cycle has begun. You are so threatened by the reactions of others, and the constant need to sound wittier, happier and more of anything the other is about- that you don’t know where you stop and your reactions begin.
I was one of these people. I began checking my notifications for which ardent friend had voluntarily liked my posts. Who shared what with whom and who commented on what why. There were too many pronouns for my comfort. And I began to overcorrect.
Victim three was my family. The time I could have spent chatting with dad, or asking mum about her day, I spent reading quotes on how you can “Make the most of NOW” and give a shit about the future later. Spent an undue amount of time analysing people under the pretext of judging them better by uncovering anything they might want to conceal.
Victim two was my best friend. Peeing on posts and car tyres is a dogs way of protecting her territory. Mine was different only slightly. Feeling upset at innocent fun, feeling left out at harmless inside jokes, and basically making a mess out of my own happiness, I can’t recollect a lot that came out shining from this part of the world.
Victim one. Myself.
The slow transition from someone who loved being by herself, who loved discussing everything under the sun with her dad for hours on end, who loved getting lost in her thoughts while travelling listening to music… To someone who just had to update that photo she just edited, or share that article she liked, or see what her best buds were up to. All the time. Didn’t turn out to be as much fun as she had come to expect.
Resolved to put an end to this bullshit, the constant need for validation and dependency on human social niceties, I deactivated my account. The first three days were the worst.
I woke up and grabbed my phone like an asthmatic gropes for her inhaler. My brain almost exploded in her sleepy haze at the blank notification drawer. At which point the events of the previous day tumbled in. In the most dramatic slo-mo my senses could muster, I began to recollect clicking the deactivate button amidst a blur of tears and the aftermath of an argument. I swore never to touch it again until my life resembled something that had a purpose.
After the initial panic, I settled down, to get my bearings. I noticed the sparrows that made a daily game of sitting at my window, pecking at the remnants of rice ma left out for the crows each dawn. And they played! Chirped, jumped about, created a racket! And I loved every moment. Drinking in the silence of the morning, I felt like I was reborn. And I’m not even exaggerating.
I picked up the forsaken phone which lay beside my bed. A few seconds later I realised how absolutely empty it felt with the Facebook app uninstalled. Did I really have no life beyond Facebook? Maybe the wounds were fresh, or maybe i still hadn’t woken up very well.
Anyway, I dismissed the melodrama and tapped my way over to the Playstore. Suddenly my phone had Flipboard, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pulse and TED Talks installed in a matter of minutes. I had an hour long conversation over the phone. Imagine that. One full hour. And I got out of bed before lunch. Which was a pretty major achievement. My parents were convinced I was sick.
I discovered a world I had long cherished and then left barebacked in the cold. The power of the introvert. This was the first TED Talk I watched. And, boy did it feel like a salve. Made myself a bowl of noodles and a glass of orange juice. And got my trusty Nexus out to take pictures. And I suddenly remembered I didn’t have a platform to flaunt it on. Eating something without showing the world made the food feel uncooked. And my brain felt useless for having come to such a state. Shoving the first hints of withdrawal symptoms aside I focussed on TED that day(Not before quickly uploading it on Instaagram though ;) ). And also on the books I’d had. Stowed away in the depths of my closet I found the friends I’d missed all these months. Went to buy groceries later in the evening, and tried taking my mind off the things I usually obsessed with. I remember sleeping like a child for the first time in months that night.
Today was calmer. Monday morning, woke up at five, and plonked myself at my laptop with a bowl of muesli and a mug of steaming coffee. Dark all around with only the light of my monitor blinking, I knew peace at that moment. Studying is a pleasure when all you’re surrounded with are the wafts of coffee and the crunch of good cereal. And of course- the awesome tutorials I had stumbled upon the night before.
After a good two hours of hitting the books, I ventured into the hall to look at the roses on the balcony. And ma thought I was sleepwalking. Hah. The early bird was overtaken by the worm!
Office was a breeze. Good things have been happening. I just have to keep the momentum increasing positively.
It has been two to three weeks now that I last used Facebook. I tried logging in once more, but the sheer thought disgusted me. I have been getting more time to focus on myself, to learn more, to enjoy more. I still have bouts of feeling miserable as shit. To the point of wanting to kill myself for existing, and I find no apparent reason for feeling so. But it has lessened. I have learned to wait those spells out. To open up to people who really love and worry for me. And also shut my mind from the tricks it tries.
I don’t think this exile is permanent. I might go back to it once I feel like I’ve grown stronger and happier mentally and emotionally. But for now, the high of being with myself, doing the things I love, and enjoying with the people I love makes everything else pale in comparison…
Then again, I’m not here to try drive a mission for a mass exodus from Facebook for more people to feel the way I do right now. I still enjoy sharing the occasional picture on Instagram. And I’m hooked on to LinkedIn. And a whole lot more. Really, “What’s on your mind…” sounds way more awesome when you have someone you love look into your eyes and genuinely mean it. And not expect a status update in return ;)