Digital Detox: Spending a Week without Instagram

Digital Detox | Stuti Ashok Gupta

So, I know I was supposed to write about my Vipassana Course for the sequel of my last post How I lived in Ladakh for seventeen days.

However, I have kept that on hold, mainly for two reasons:

  1. My Vipassana Course was overwhelming. Imagine yourself in a dark room for years and suddenly to face the sunlight. You’d be struck by the light, and your eyes may lose sight because of too much exposure, and your words have fumble because you can see everything clearly and there would be too much stimulus to make sense out. I felt that way. Even though it happened 11 months ago, I am still making sense of my experience and I will definitely share my experience in this space – when I trust this space enough to contain it.
  2. I recently had decided to take a week off from Instagram and it was my first successful day without it. I want to articulate my thoughts so that I can document it.



Why did I decide to take a break?

There are definitely multiple reasons, but some of them are here:

  1. Every time I take a tiny break in the middle of my daily tasks at work, I sub-consciously open Instagram and start scrolling. Almost like a muscle memory now. I feel my mind could use those little spaces to unwind and relax, but the amount of content on social media – leaves me wanting more. I want to see more, I want to read more, I want to do better.
  2. The whole space has stages itself to a little too much competition. There are obviously some people doing better than you and some people worse – but social networks were never meant to be places to compete – they were meant to connect, in this fast pacing world. But are we really using to connect and build a community, or it has limited itself to too much self-proclamation?
  3. Everyone has their own styles of presenting and everyone has their own meaning of Art. Lamentably, it has become more about the right usage of a hashtag – than the actual work of value and effort. Everyone is melting down to the same styles and same aesthetics – because don’t we all want to do show what sells? But since when did a form of self-expression, especially art, become dependent so conditional? There is a certain obsession of how my grid looks that I developed and I felt it was some sort of OCPD behaviour with no hopes of diagnosis? Imagine how many thousands of us obsessing about such a thing? And when I say OBSESSION, I do mean in a clinical manner.
  4. When I was in school, we had this short story about Umberto Eco, an Italian novelist, literary critic & philosopher. It was an interview more than a story, in fact. So, Umberto Eco mentions how the whole universe was created with space and if all the spaces were removed – it would be the size of the fist. And as a writer, he talked about how much time we could utilize between the little things we do. It really left me inspired – so, I did start using my time wisely. I remember writing most of my poems in the lift when I was in Calicut. Our lift was an old one and our apartment was on the 7th floor. Just enough time to start a poem. Now, I feel, with Instagram always on my mind during such spaces – I have not written a poem in ages, or anything at all during elevator waits.



What is the purpose or my expectation out of not using Instagram for a week?

  1. Honestly, not much. I want to simply observe myself. I want to see what would be it that I turn to when I don’t have Instagram at every interval.
  2. To learn that it is okay to sometimes just be and not do anything. This constant need of always doing something can sometimes leave me feeling like a workaholic and it is definitely not a good feeling – because it’s hard to feel accomplished when you’re always working. You often forget to pause and analyze and feel.
  3. To know more about other things I love – like writing, or reading or blogging.
    Like today evening, I was glued to Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand today for I allowed myself to. Otherwise, one notification and the flow dies. A book doesn’t allow that – you better pay full attention to it for it to let you float in its world.
  4. To reflect on what I love about curating and documenting. How can I use online media more responsibly for both myself and others who read me?

How did my Day one go?

There were multiple times that my fingers looked for something on my phone, only for my mind to catch it again and again. I realized half the time I am not even aware of when I open the app and start scrolling.

Later in the daytime, when I took my intervals – I just started reading News. That happened after ages that I was scrolling The Hindu and not Instagram. I felt great and relatively productive.

This other day, we were discussing how the whole game of Data Sciences is making humanity dumber because whatever you are interested in, whatever you like to see the most on your feed – the more it repeats and the similar content is seen by you. Think of it like this – if I love seeing travel pictures, that’s all Social Media shows me. Does it not make me a Kuye ka Mendak [frog in a well] in this internet age. There’s nothing challenging shown. There’s very less possibility for me to explore something I don’t know about and may have found interest in.

So, when you take charge of internet, you stop internet from taking charge of you. The fact that I am actually able to write such a long piece of a blog about the whole thing is because I don’t have constant notifications coming my way. Such an experience from time to time can help me evolve and explore my horizons.


Disclaimer

Before you come around and call me a hypocrite for being an Instagram Influencer and still saying all of these things. There are a few things I’d like you to know and remember.

Instagram has been a way of documenting my life for about 6 years now. I don’t think it is possible for me to give it up as yet. I love that I have maintained a space since 2012 that holds more reflections on my life than any personal diary could.

Doing a detox is important for everything I feel. Instagram is becoming like a difficult relationship that I can’t live without and yet, it consumes me whole.

More than anything, it is challenging myself to do something that seems like a big deal. Going without social media for a certain duration is sort of like a favour to yourself. Your life is something only you know the best, and when networking spaces become more about putting your best foot forward every single time instead of just being raw and unfiltered – it’s high time, we ask ourselves “whom are we kidding?”

I’d love to know your thoughts about digital detox. Have you ever tried it? If yes, what was it like? If not, would you want to ever challenge yourself?

Drop a comment if you want to share your opinion/experience on this.

Goodnight!

Sleep well,

S

 

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3 Comments

  1. Hey stuti, well written article:) i have to fully agree to your point that bid data makes humanity dumber. Bit i think you can blame the common use of the internet and not only instagram for this. It has become a big cloud of everything, theres people having second lifes that are more important to them than their “real“everyday life. Its also aLot easier to just Google smth about history and culture than its is to learn the facts for your own brain and decisionmaking. Im happy that everywhere on earth people are starting to reflect on this and wish you good luck in finding a responsible and continuous solution in your case 🙂
    Best greets Martin

  2. Beautifully written.
    I’ve never tried this before, but after reading and understanding the benefits of this, I’m surely going to give it a try!

  3. You have written an honest article with no dramatics. Not many writers can write things as it is.

    Best of luck for you break. And hopefully when you are back you will be able to limit the use making a set time table.

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