Every now and then I find myself deleting my social media apps from my phone. I know I am definitely not the only one who does this. In times where I feel overwhelmed or when I just feel like I need a bit of a detox, it feels natural to get off social media.
At the beginning of this year, I deleted Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. Yes, EVEN WhatsApp. The whole ‘new year, new me’ felt overwhelming, everyone declaring how great 2017 was and how much greater 2018 was going to be. I was so busy watching everyone else’s life that I wasn’t reflecting on myself and my own achievements. One of my other reasons to include Whatsapp was the trigger behaviour. You know, when you pick up your phone aimlessly, check WhatsApp even when you haven’t had a notification and find yourself flicking through insta stories even though you were on it 3 mins ago. Yeah that behaviour.
I truly believe most of us are addicted to social media. But because social media is a relatively new phenomenon, we don’t quite know how to navigate it and whether we can term it as an ‘addiction’.
After I deleted it I also watched this talk about the nature of social media, by Dr. Cal Newport who has never had a social media account. He says that ultimately social media platforms are entertainment products. I found myself agreeing, I feel like at times we are just so consumed with being entertained. From morning to night we are carrying around these mini slot machines. We seldom think about repercussions on an individual or collective level. Watch the full talk below:
When I first deleted all the apps I thought, I will give it a month and come back. But, upon actually reflecting on my technology use and I guess doing an ‘audit’ I actually don’t think I will come back to WhatsApp. Here are my 10 reasons why and in fact most of them can span across other social platforms.
I hated that fact that I wasn’t being intentional with my phone use. Technology will save us they said, but instead I felt this feeling that I needed to be saved from it. While I feel like Whatsapp is different to Instagram and Facebook, it definitely nurtures the same behaviour for me, the need to fulfil your notification crave. For this reason, I also delete the Twitter app on the weekends, to ensure that I don’t nurture the trigger behaviour.
This is one of the biggest things that makes me not want to come back to Whatsapp. While in theory, the internet allows us to connect more, the depth of these relationships are to be questioned. If your friendship relies on you being on Whatsapp, I hate to break it to you but your friendship has no substance. In 2017 I met so many people online, mainly on Twitter, who I then swapped numbers with. I found it strange that people I had never met, had my number and we spoke as if we had years of memories and shared moments. In 2018 I want to meet more people in real life. I have had friends say “but how will you communicate” – I just said I’m getting rid of Whatsapp, not my phone. You can still text me, phone me (you know that thing where you actually talk) or how about meeting up, what a concept right? If anything I have met more people in real life in this short time and while I miss roasting my friends in the group chat, I don’t feel like our 10 years of friendship has been diluted in any way, I haven’t missed out on group plans and I am still very much ‘in the loop’.
I would even say, perhaps delete Whatsapp to really reflect about the state of your friendships.
When I actually break down what the main use of my Whatsapp behaviour is, it’s idle talk. We’ve all been that person that starts a conversation out of boredom or loneliness. I questioned the benefit of Whatsapp and given the majority of it is just chit-chat, I personally feel like the benefits are too insignificant to justify keeping it.
Going from the above point, because of how accessible Whatsapp makes you, it becomes a constant source of distraction. Distracting in both personal and professional life. We tell ourselves ‘I don’t have time’ but really in most cases, it is because we are making time for other things. Whilst we may not deem WhatsApp more important than the task or project at hand, sitting on Whatsapp pulls rank because of its addictiveness.
Running amaliah.com is a huge part of my life, my personal and professional lines are forever blurred. This also means people DM me on all my social platforms as well as Whatsapp for what are essentially work related enquiries. I felt like being accessible on so many platforms was to my detriment. As such, now I try and funnel anything work related to my email and my Twitter account straddles both my personal and professional worlds.
We just accepted these platforms as fundamental technologies we need to be able to exist in the 21st century. Being the first generation to consume social media we didn’t really know what we were getting into. I do feel like we are at a tipping point, with anxiety going through the roof and social media detoxes becoming a thing, I really think it is time to question what our use of social media does for our confidence, our mental health, our relationships, our ambitions and ultimately our deen.
It isn’t a fundamental technology. Social media companies hire attention engineers who borrow the same principles from casinos, it’s why social media has often been compared to slot machines. The desired use case is that you are addicted in return for usage hours.
My sleep has never been better Alhamdulilah. When your phone doesn’t have much going on there isn’t much need to pick it up. By now, we have all been made aware of the adverse effects of social media on our sleep and well-being. I said most of us are addicted to social media right? An addiction negatively impacts our lives and causes us to become somewhat dysfunctional. Negativity effects to your sleep, an inbuilt human need, because you are looking at your phone too much sounds like an addiction. Instead of scrolling away or having late night convos on Whatsapp, I have replaced that time with meditating using the calm or headspace app. Anyone that knows knowsnow I am not a morning person, but honestly, the whole month of January I have been able to not only wake up early, but also haven’t felt groggy. I definitely think it is the positive effects of not living in my phone screen.
I went to an event on one of the weekends after I deleted my apps about Islamic counselling, one of the things the facilitator said stuck with me. She said there is a natural part of human nature that wants to forget ourselves. It made me think of our phones and technology, they allow us to lose ourselves, numb our minds and leave very little space to actually think. We need to think about ourselves and the state of who we are. In Islam the state of our heart is held in high regard, because ultimately what we put out into the world is a reflection of the state of heart. If we aren’t reflecting and if we are constantly just feeding ourselves with other people’s lives and other people’s thoughts, then what does that mean for our own state?
Maybe we are too scared to be with ourselves, our own thoughts and really face who we are.