Childhood friends know well that I was a computer addict as a teen-ager. Friends who know me well that I’ve grown up to become a smartphone addict. The addiction per se has never been something about the device, it’s what the device connects to, the Internet. I’ve been a wholehearted addict of the Internet. Addiction depends so much on what you do with the device. I read most of the time, follow news, my areas of interest and watch Netflix on the Internet, which all accumulate to my addiction. Then there is social media, on which you can do some things I wrote above, like following the news.
As it often happens, whenever you use something only so much, it becomes a routine, a habit and you just do not realize how frequent you use that thing. For me, it was Instagram. Using a smartphone doesn’t include only social media surfing for me, I mostly thought but when I checked the amount of time I spent on IG, it was a bitter shock. I spent around an hour and a half on a daily basis on the app. I followed astronauts, street artists, blog writers, soccer players, soccer clubs, international organizations, food blogs, musicians, personal trainers among many others. I only spent so much time watching stories from people who haven’t got anything to do in my daily life. No exaggeration but I liked watching daily stories of some influencers (personal trainers, in my case) and their message inspired me on a reasonable level as it resonated with me. But following people is hard, watching stories require so much time. People post only so many stories. Is that any good? Well, I don’t know, some people post stories because their income is based on keeping up with their followers, replying to their comments, sharing their thoughts and lives constantly, or just what they call ‘engaged’. Then there are the group of people who only post stories and pictures constantly. The second group is obviously a hard topic to crack. Time came to pass and what happened was quite absurd: I was spending a lot of time (no matter what) on watching stories, stories from newspapers, influencers and other non-individual accounts on Instagram. And more weirdly, I wasn’t seeing what friends were up to as I mostly focussed on the first group of stories.
After some consideration, I decided to change my Instagram habits. The idea that I am on social media is because I want to connect to people, not converse with less-than-ideal conversations with some influencer that I follow. I decided to unfollow any person who has got nothing to do with my life personally. I unfollowed almost a hundred people after this decision. The remaining were mostly people I met in person, school friends, childhood friends, my teachers, lecturers, and relatives. This reduced the amount of time that I spent on the app as my Feed didn’t have a ton of new posts every day. Not so many stories, either. What was challenging, however, was that I opened the app just as frequently. It was a hard habit to break. Then I uninstalled the app. As such, I only started using the web version of Instagram. What’s good is that on the web Instagram now supports messages. You can check stories, reply to them. You can like posts. You can chat with friends. The only bad thing is it will not allow you to open Snapchat-like picture messages. You can’t post a story or a picture on the web version. But how often do you need to do that if any time at all? More interestingly, I began forgetting to check my Instagram at times.
My internet addiction is always there. It’s not likely to go away but that doesn’t mean one cannot control their time in a more controlled fashion and to one’s own good. For me, social media is about connecting and keeping in touch with loved ones, not influencers or news media, I decided. My internet addiction will continue to play its part in connecting to people I love.