So my dad had a Facebook account that I first became aware of at the age of 9. He later deleted it and never looked back because that’s the kind of man he is. Most people try quitting habits cold turkey and fail but, he isn’t most people. There is nothing half-baked in his life which makes me wonder, how did I miss out on those genes!
Three years down the line, my sister and I had our first secret phones. How we managed to acquire them or where we got the money from is a story for another day but it’s safe to say we got into a heap load of trouble! The joy was so short lived, that I just vaguely remember playing generic games on it.
Fast forward to the final term of form 3, my awesome maternal grandmother bought me a brand new samsung phone which she then successfully smuggled into my boarding school.
I can tell you for a fact, there were no classes attended nor notes reviewed that term. I spent those “exciting” few months hiding from the matron, eating junk food, chatting on Migg33 (am that ancient!) and reading novels in no particular order. I was eventually caught the next term in my bed, fast asleep, phone on my chest at 2 pm.
I then joined Facebook upon completing high school squandering countless hours sharing useful and not-so-useful information I had come across. It was all well and good until it reached a point I felt OBLIGATED to keep my friends informed and inspired. I was competing with my previous “performance” with the likes and comments serving as my benchmarks.
The simple question “What’s on your mind?” became an invasion of my inner peace as I struggled to fathom ways in which I could best present my latest “piece”.
It was a question that triggered many more, flowing in a disorderly and undisciplined manner. Is my spelling correct? How will they resonate with this? Is it too hostile? Too boring? Am I giving too much away? Is it good enough?
As if that wasn’t enough, a trailer in Karen almost ran over me as I was crossing the road glued to my screen. My dad was with me that day and amidst his angry outburst, he still managed to give me some pearls of wisdom that still resonates with me to this day.
To be honest, I didn’t listen to my parents half the time – who does at that age? But, boy! am I really glad I did that day! Basically, he pointed out that some of the people I chatted with or saw my posts were individuals who spent their time studying, had good jobs or were successful in their businesses. They would then come online to unwind and would not be disappointed as his daughter and others like her were always available on short notice to indulge them.
He then went ahead to inform me that he had left social media in all it’s forms because he felt it gave him a false sense of importance that did not reflect his reality.
That was my turning point. That was enough for me to pump the breaks on the roller coaster ride of social media. As most of us are aware, there are many more negative effects of social media such as time wastage, addiction, depression, reduced attention span and the need for instant gratification (this last two being the leading causes of the high number of school drop outs).
But the most common effect across all demographics is the FOMO syndrome (Fear of Missing out syndrome) which am certainly not immune to.
This leads to the obvious question, “Should we quit and delete all our social media accounts?” Well, I most certainly don’t have all the answers and it is a highly subjective question but I find it best to err on the side of caution as less is definitely more in this scenario.
I began by deleting all my accounts completely as I needed to re-establish a healthy relationship with social media. Call it a reboot of some sort. I did end up activating them severally, only to delete them again as I struggled to free myself. But free myself I did! Alhamdulillah ( Well, almost :))
I am still an active user of WhatsApp, Twitter and on rare occasions, Facebook and Pinterest. They mostly serve as marketing platforms for my blog kenyanmuslimah.com BUT, I still choose to disconnect completely for days, weeks or months on end to find my bearing. I can’t emphasize how crucial this has been to my wellbeing.
To this day I still struggle to find a healthy balance, especially when am feeling overwhelmed with some aspect in my life. It’s so much easier to lose oneself in other people’s personal businesses, watch pointless videos and post just to be relevant and up to date.
At the end of the day, it’s best to be mindful of the fact that every individual behind those usernames is real, flawed and terrified to admit it. No one is “perfect” or “better off” we all just selectively post contents that place us in a better light.
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