By JASMINE CHUAH
“Yes, I really, really, honestly, seriously think you should try it. I think you should try putting down your phone, not checking every single WhatsApp message that comes in through those group chats, not scrolling through Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or Tumblr.
“I think you should stop doing all that till you can make a conscious effort to prioritise whether the person in front of you is more important. By the way, that person should win.”
This was what I told myself six months ago when I made the decision to stop allowing social media to control me. These are my reasons:
1. The culture of social media has eroded the way we build relationships
I struggle with maintaining friendships because of my introversion; along with the reassurance that while people may be temporarily in my life, they are always accessible.
Because I feel that people are always accessible, I don’t put as much effort into building relationships.
I am wrong. I won’t truly know my friends unless I spend time with them, learning about them through engaging conversations and activities. A moment is not memorable unless it has meaning. It will not have meaning unless I invest in it through making a point to spend time.
2. Social media takes me away from my family
My greatest fear is to one day see my family sitting around a dinner table, completely silent and absorbed in their own personal devices. I see it happening to so many other people: fathers push their children away because of Candy Crush, mothers let their children run helter-skelter because they are busy scrolling Facebook, grandparents eat surrounded by relatives but feel alone. I do not want that for my family. I do not want to do it to them either.
3. I want to be bigger than social media
I want to be more than the value I place on the number of likes I get on a post or the glee I get from the number of comments on a picture. I want to be called up on my birthday. I want to not feel like I have to share every special moment with the world. I want people to converse with me because I didn’t say it all. I want to be that person that you just need to meet because she is so much more than the sum of her profile.
In the end, I don’t want to be controlled by social media. I want to be real and live outside of the screen. Isn’t that what we were always meant to be?
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First appeared on Leaderonomics.com. Published in English daily The Star, Malaysia, 4 July 2015