When I was a young woman at the start of the new millennium,I used to wonder if I had done enough to prepare myself for life that lay ahead of me. I was fortunate that during that period, my exposure to digital media was non-existent. So was the rest of the world’s, save for the few who had a pretty darn good dial up internet connection. I could live within the bliss of ignorance that my decisions and choices were my own, and that I had none to judge or to be judged,even if the ‘judgement‘ was a figment of my perceived beliefs and anxieties.
Eighteen years later, things have truly changed. For the worse than the better. I’m willing to admit that with our sickening dependence on digital media for our personal vanity and gratification, the quality of conversations and relationships has hit not just an all-time low, but a basal canker. This parasitic choice of living is akin to those who are addicts and cannot imagine a life sober.
I find myself falling victim to digital media stereotyping, questioning my choices, wondering how different my life might have been had I taken to digital media as the technology intended to trap its victims.Fortunately, I’m able to barricade myself and make sense of the divide between the real world and the avatars and representations of the digital world. I’m able to do so by being grounded purely because of my fears- I’m a Luddite and my belief that anything that looks that ‘good‘ must truly be really ‘bad‘.
Which is the reason why I’ve never really taken to Twitter or Tinder, never developed my ability to ‘binge'(I’m so not the target audience for Amazon Prime or Netflix), never used Linkedin aggressively to advance my career, presented my life on my own terms of privacy on Facebook, and weaned myself off Instagram and Zomato.
I have to stick with my beliefs that my choices have led me thus far on the right path, without compromising my peace of mind, so that in the future I will continue to make better choices.
But I worry about those who cannot discern right from wrong, who’ve gotten sucked into the quicksand of Digital Media- they cannot leave it, the more they struggle to escape it, the deeper they are pulled back into it, and are thus in an arguable state of limbo.
Here are some tips that have helped me remain grounded all these years-
Understand that our lives are not meant for comparison, competition, or being broadcast. There is great comfort and solace in the knowledge that all of our life’s experiences and secrets remain protected and private with ourselves or just between our loved ones. Shouldn’t our lives be treated as sacrosanct?
In the digital world, nothing is always secure.We are constantly in a state of risk, of being exposed and made vulnerable in ways that we willingly submit and subject ourselves to it. The news is rife with incidents of deception, blackmail, catfishing, identity theft, revenge porn, trolling,phishing-there is no end to the unspeakable lengths that people, even the ones in your own social circles, who would like nothing better than to see you fail rather than succeed. Protect yourself.
It’s that simple. Resist the urge to physically document every moment of your life. Engage in appreciating everything that a moment or experience has to offer by letting your eyes be the lens and your brain the medium onto which it is captured. Allow the creativity of your vocabulary to create images while you engage in story telling. Fight the right fight.
Be conscious and aware that there are a lot of people within your own social circle who are struggling with their own choices. To you it might seem like a simple act of sharing ‘joy’ or a point of view on a digital platform,but to them it could cause envy, jealousy, hatred, or even self harm. Be kind. Take the higher road.Be the bigger person. You just might save a life, without even knowing it.
Learn to do things the old fashioned way- the right way – strike up a conversation with a person at the bus stop, pick up your own groceries, read the newspaper, have a conversation or debate with people in person, make the effort to call rather than text, watch TV instead of online, enjoy moments, and appreciate experiences. The more time spent on in person experiences rather than from a device, the better will be your ability to wean yourself off digital media. Pulling the plug will never have felt better.
You’d be surprised how easy and liberating it is to not upgrade your devices. Not only is it financially beneficial to your bank account, you will also realize that you don’t really need the latest phone with the best camera, or that you need to try out the latest app or get onto the newest platform. With time, you will soon realize that you don’t even need them.All that you do need your device for is for the purpose it was originally intended- to make phone calls, text, and furthermost to book a cab.
As much as these tips seem very easy and implementable, you’d be surprised by how many people struggle with taking their first step in this direction as well as remaining on this path.
All I can advise is that it is better to try and fail rather than not try and succumb.