The art of quitting social media

Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter; the apps I had given a profuse amount of my time. Almost 3 hours of my day would be taken up by me scrolling through these apps, absorbing in content which were completely unrelated to my life. I found myself filling my brain with memes – yes, I agree that memes can be funny but I was taking in too much- but my addiction was growing worse. I was living, breathing and speaking in meme. My thoughts, ideas and opinions were being backed up by memes and soon I became fed up. I deleted all time wasting apps hoping to return to the time where I had increased focus on everything and everyone around me. I managed to live without it for a good few hours until I had an itching sensation to take a quick look at what everyone was up to. I could always login to my accounts using my laptop which wouldn’t really count as the format of these social media sites are completely different to how it was displayed on my phone. And so be it, I spent the next few hours stuck between the tabs of Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, endlessly scrolling through photos of my ex-boyfriends aunt and old school friends of whom I had no interest in reuniting with. It was only after I put down my laptop and realised how unproductive my day had been that I realised my addiction was serious.

Social Media has 4 core purposes; sharing, learning, interacting and marketing. Sharing information can either be private or public and can come in many forms such as pictures, writing, video and voice recordings. The beauty of this is that you have the ability to share anything; reviews, advertising and leisure. This way, you can learn more about a certain topic, find out what your friends and family are up to as well as interacting and responding to a certain post. I don’t doubt that the concept is overall positive as it brings together communities from all over the world. What if the interaction gets too much, toxic to you and your surroundings? After all, too much of anything does make you sick right? For example, if I didn’t like the colour of the tables at a particular restaurant, I am 99% sure that I will be unlikely to find another person who disliked the same tables through conversions during my day. On the internet, however, I could publicise my thoughts on Twitter, add a few hashtags, tag the restaurant and suddenly I’ve created a cult of cream coloured table haters. Social media’s purpose was to bring people together, though in practice this is just another way of absorbing useless information. 

Internet platforms have been designed to monopolise human attention by any means necessary (New York times). There have been many instances where I sit down to work but ended up scrolling through Instagram. I would then put down my phone and proceed to my actual tasks only to reward myself with some more social media after every new paragraph I had written. This cycle would continue until my tasks are completed in more than double the time I had intended to spend on it. Social media companies essentially use us as products. They thrive off our attention and our constant scrolling for PROFIT. The reason for Instagram’s algorithm to be in a non linear is so that we never reach the end, the scrolling never stop and the profits keep rolling in. Aside from this, the environments of every day life has changed. When was the last time you went walked into a waiting room where no one was on a phone? Or try and think about the last time you rode an entire bus journey without once reaching for your phone and actually enjoying the view outside. In my opinion, social media has caused more damage than good; the irony is that we now live in a world where everything we say has to be filtered and politically correct, a place where hate is spread faster and in a more destructive manner, a world where there are too many opinions from either side leaving you in a state of confusion and unrest.

After realising that I spent the vast majority of my day doing god-knows-what on these apps, I decided it was time for a change. I have now successfully been off Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for 40 days and counting, this is how I did it.

1.   Unfollow everyone and everything. 

 The main aim of this was to reduce the amount of content that was on my feed everyday, hence being able to go through it all in one sitting without having to constantly check my phone. It may sound tough, it’s actually pretty easy. I unfollowed every person that I had neither seen nor spoken to in the past year. This turned out to be quite a lot to my surprise, mostly people I had met once and just people at school. I also unfollowed the meme pages who had the worst quality memes or just spammed my feed with brand deals.

You will probably find that the number of followers you have will also decrease, and I too had an ache in my heart every time I saw the figures drop. However, I learnt not care much about this since I was finally seeing only the interesting content. 

2.   Delete the apps off your phone 

Since my feed had reduced so much, I grew bored of picking up my phone every now and then and watching over the same posts. The need to constantly scroll still hadn’t gone away and I became the first person to watch someones most recent story or the first to like a post. The frustration grew and the boredom grew further. As a result, I deleted the apps from my phone with no intention of getting them back.

If this seems like an extreme move for you try deleting the apps with the knowledge that you could always check your feed on a desktop – but keeping this at a minimum of course. After deleting the apps, I found myself only checking my feed on my laptop once a day, soon this reduced down to zero. 

What I learnt was that social media is not something I aspire to go back to. It did not improve the quality of my life – it was merely a distraction which diverged my tasks and plans. I can now read a book without an itching need to check my phone for notifications every few minutes, I can hold a conversation without keeping my head down and best of all, I can focus on and do my required tasks for the day in a reasonable amount of time, leaving me to do more.


Rush Hour Crush

I got caught in the midst of rush hour on Thursday. The worst time of the day when you’re in London; crowded trains filled with business people or tourists. Everyone receives a fair amount of pushes, shoves and the occasional elbow to the rib. All in all, we just want to get home.

Somehow I got onto the tube in one piece. Holding a large shopping bag, wearing my backpack over my thick winter jacket and headphones in, a must, whilst listening to heavy metal to drown out the noises of crying babies and enthusiastic tourists. There I was, looking like a right sort. I was tapping my fingers on the pole to the beat of the music when I saw him. I must have been loud because he saw me tapping and smiled. He was standing about an arm’s length in front. But of course, having been rush hour meant that there were at least 3 people inbetween us – like the wall of Verona separating Romeo and Juliet.

He wore a charcoal grey suit jacket and an unbuttoned baby pink shirt. No tie – which I don’t blame because of the humidity. I couldn’t see his shoes but I presumed they were somewhat smart. He had an olive skin tone but it was his hair that had struck me the most. Locks of brown glossy hair, curly and remained at the scalp yet dead straight on the edges.

He got a seat after a herd of people got off at the train at Turnpike Lane, leaving me still standing. I thought it’d be a good idea to bluetooth him a picture of what I was listening to since he had cared enough to smile. He didn’t appear on the Airdrop list. To my unfortune, nothing came up with his image and instead I accidently sent the image to ‘Danielle’s iphone’ – boy I bet she was confused. A few stops went by and the seat next to him became available. A message from the heavens. This was my chance. I sat beside him and took off my headphones and adjusted my hair using the help of my reflection in the window opposite. He smelled strongly of a freshly applied JPG – a smell which was fairly familiar to me.

The remainder of the journey was a quiet one. We both left the train at the same stop via a different set of double doors. He smiled again when I turned to look around for him. Is he just polite or playing with my feelings?

The train jolted to a stop. I ran out through the doors and up the escalators to catch my next bus in time. This was it. Time for the love of my life to run up behind me and ask for my number so we could stay up all night and talk on the phone. Tonight was the premiered night of many that we’d spend together and live to have a life of four children and live in a country home and own the biggest farm. Tonight –

“Excuse me?”

I stop. Eyes wide open in shock. Heart pounding against my chest. Legs turn to jelly. My prayers just keep on getting answered today. The angels are by my side.

That’s when my farce o’clock struck. I turned around to find it wasn’t him. It wasn’t him at all. I knew who this person was though. He sat diagonal to me on the train I had just been on. Gym bag, jogging bottoms, baggy t-shirt, expensive trainers and wearing AirPods. He was probably one of those exercise people – oh no – a personal trainer. He’s not going to ask if I needed any help did he?

“Yes?”

“Would you mind if I had your phone number?”

I politely declined and walked away, still searching for my twilight tube man. He was gone and so was my bus ride home.

In light of world mental health day.

My mental health story. 

NOTE: (trigger warning*) Writing this piece brought back memories that I have hidden for a long time. I tried to make my stories as light as possible hence why it may sound trivial but there is a lot more to it of which I am not yet comfortable to share. I am not diagnosed with any mental disorder and please do not try and diagnose yourself. I try to better my mental state by writing things down or turning them into art like poetry. Please speak do to someone if you are going through a tough time.

My jet black leather-leather-bound journal. I was gifted this when I turned 10 and it didn’t really have a particular use. It’s been a holiday journal, drawing book and now it plays a role as my mental health diary.

Up until the age of 10, I would say that I was a very intelligent and likeable young girl. I was swimming for my local team, played a musical instrument, had lots of friends and was academically striving at school – you could say I was “perfect”, an all-rounder. The earliest memory of me breaking this character down was when all the girls in my class had started to eat a school dinner, leaving me as the only girl with a packed lunch. I was sitting on the grass, a few metres away from a large circle of boys when one shouted out to me ‘nerdy lesbian’. More awful words followed. In all fairness I didn’t know what most of them had meant so I was not bothered. 

The last year of primary school was possibly my worst. Let me give you a scenario: the girls in my class, my ‘friends’, formed a dance group and called themselves the ‘Golden Chicks’. Since I was always around them, I was appointed as their manager. I did everything they asked me to do from filling out their audition forms to spending a long time mixing their music which they could use to perform with. For some reason, it didn’t occur to me as odd when they would have sleepovers or group meetings without me. When I confronted them, the typical response would be “We’ll invite you next time” or “we’ll tell you about the meeting later”. What shattered me the most was when they used their own music to perform at the end of term assembly and had discarded mine completely. Things went from bad to worse when I was the only person in the class not to be invited to a birthday party. She kept telling me that she had forgotten to bring in my invitation and she would be sure bring it the following day. This never happened of course and it truly made me feel lonely at that moment in time. Over time, my personality changed from being bubbly and kind to angry and bitter. I was constantly jealous of everyone else being happy and enjoying their last few weeks of school. I really don’t know what came over me when I started stealing things from the sliding drawers of my classmates and put them in someone else’s drawer when nobody was looking so that they would get into trouble. Thinking about this almost a decade later, I think at first I was unintentionally bullied and isolated by my classmates. My personality before may have come across as cocky and overly passionate. The way I was treated gave me a negative attitude and turned me into a horrible person masking what I felt deep inside; having a constant urge to fit in with the people around me. 

I was accepted into a highly selective grammar school when I was 11. I went back to my old bubbly personality but my new found fear of loneliness still hung onto me. I made friends quickly, who did not judge nor tease me for being a ‘nerd’. There were times when my group of friends would make plans for the future to go to Cambridge university and live together. Then one would say “except for Thanucha obviously no offence”- meaning I was not clever enough. After this my lowest point was when I was 15/16 or so when my close-knit group of friends had cut me off completely and I had just been dumped from a year long relationship. I felt at my loneliest, I had nobody to hang out with during breaks as it was the last year of school and everyone already had their friendship groups. The place I felt safest was in the girls toilets on the far end of the school – where people don’t usually go to. The end cubicle was hidden away behind the door and was completely dark. It also had the best wifi connection so I was sorted for company. For a whole year, every lunchtime I would go to my cubicle, eat my lunch there and come out when the end of lunch bell rang. If I had work to do, librarian would let me work in the store room all because I did not want to be seen alone if front of my ex friends. Sometimes I would see them walking a few paces in front of me in the corridor which automatically made me turn around and walk the long way to my lesson. I started being late to school every morning  simply because then I wouldn’t have to do the daunting job of walking past all four of them to get to my seat in registration. During the holidays, I felt a huge sense of relief that I would no longer have to face anyone. However, I felt more and more depressed everyday. I would not shower for days at a time, there were times when I would no wear my glasses for days in a row so that essentially I would not have to see the world. I also self harmed a lot. Here is a short extract from my diary:

19th December 2015:

“Its nearly Christmas but I’m not excited as I usually am, I haven’t even bought anyone presents because I don’t care. Really, I wish my mind was more at ease, resting in peace…”

I kept my emotions between myself and my diary. I honestly don’t know how I came out of constantly feeling trapped and uneasy. If I knew how, I would say so but I don’t. I tried putting more effort into my schoolwork and fought off negative thoughts. My handwork paid off and I proved my doubters wrong. My mind is more at ease but some situations always make me feel uneasy. Like walking past a big group of people and being horrified at the fact that they might talk or laugh about you when actually most of the time they wouldn’t even notice that you’re even present. I now have a group of friends I can speak to and feel comfortable with. And as for feeling lonely, I have learned to enjoy my own company and forget about trying to impress anyone.