Navigating social media : My struggle with my facebook and instagram feeds.

I wish I would’ve made a note, every time I had an idea for a new blog post. It would’ve been an interesting list. I’ve had a bunch of ideas and have been wanting to write about them these past few months, just haven’t been able to get down to it. Today’s attempt can be attributed to me being sick and bed ridden for two days and suddenly having some time to think about things. Yesterday I spent a lot of time watching Netflix and today I spent time catching up on a bit of emailing which I’d been avoiding for a while. It felt like the right time to write something today. A cheerful day for a blog post.

Back to topics to write about. I wanted to write about terribly important things like race and gender in entrepreneurship, roles of artists in arts organizations, our decision as a company to take up more commercial work to pay the bills. Then there were the other more personal things like importance of friends and friendship in ones life, thoughts on self respect, work life balance, starting a family, health concerns, life experiences, then the list of existential nothings like the fear of dying alone, thoughts on faith and religion, on lost time, aging, not understanding why we do what we do.

But I guess one thing which I’ve been focusing a lot on these past few weeks is how much time should I spend on social meida. As mundane, irrelevant and millennial this sounds, its been taking a lot of my headspace. June was a testament of me going a bit nuts with instagram and facebook. A wait of a couple of minutes for the ATM meant that I needed to check my instagram or facebook account, getting into the elevator to go up to my third floor apartment meant that I needed to check my phone, walking to work meant I needed to feverishly dig into my bag for my phone, standing in a grocery line, waiting for a drink, talking to a friend, watching TV, as if being distracted wasn’t enough, I needed to be distracted from a distraction. It was endless and consistent, the feed never stopped and I never stopped browsing through it. The worst was at work. Every time I would feel uncomfortable or couldn’t find the right solution to a problem, or couldn’t crack something, there it was again, me typing those alphabets, f..a..c into the browser and it would auto-populate and viola, a whole lot of information for nothing, like empty calories. Weirdly so, I would keep running into people I am facebook or instagram friends with and neither of us would really acknowledge the other, so it seemed almost false and useless to spend time reading about these people or seeing their pictures in the virtual world when clearly we wanted nothing to do with each other in the real world.

I gave up eating bread for a week because gluten seemed to give me heartburn. I never really got back to eating gluten after that week. I tried the same with social media – one weekend, I decided, okay I am going to try and stop for a bit, take a bit of breather, not for day or so but for a week or so. I had to finish a couple of proposals that weekend and every time an urge to open up a social media window would arise, I would resist it. Weirdly so, I was a lot more focused, I had better ideas, my research was a lot more contained. My urge to dig into my bag for my phone kinda died. Waiting in line, meant, well.. waiting in line and feeling annoyed and noticing things. I didn’t know what anyones July 4th plans were, who went where, I knew that I was working and watching the world cup at home. It was kinda relieving.

But there are no happy endings other than in Bollywood films. After the initial relief, I suddenly felt, well – a bit alone.  Sometimes social media is just a way of keeping up with people who you don’t phone, email or see on a regular basis, like a friend moving to a new city, or a cousin studying abroad, or a nephew beating the crap outta another kid during a taekwondo fight. These are few things I do care about.

Also, I have an eye for pretty pictures, I see a nice image and I need to share it, with strangers and friends alike so after a week or so I decided I would continue posting a small bit on instagram and work related stuff on facebook. When friends show support for a project I busted my ass on or like a video of my dog tap dancing, I do feel teeny weeny bit loved. Its awful and shallow but it does kinda feel good sometimes. I guess people like approval, like dogs like being petted. On the other hand, Its not just about being fakely liked on social media, its also about liking/supporting stuff other people post, kids, dogs, family vacations, business breakthroughs, personal projects (I draw a line at selfies though). I also like to share the stuff I believe in, like desi chics surfing and kicking ass, feminist stuff, culture stuff, art stuff.

The other day, I checked my feed after ages, and noticed that I hadn’t responded to a message from a close cousin or commented on a picture my best friend from undergrad posted of us together. Its just that I haven’t been checking facebook very frequently. I don’t know how to figure out my social media conundrum. I wonder if I could get facebook and Instagram in a digest format so that I don’t feel the need to check it constantly as if I am going to miss something.

How do I solve this? Have you solved it? How do you moderate your social media intake? I guess I’ll figure it out in time but for now, I am a bit clueless. FYI, I am on twitter, feedly and flipboard all the time and I don’t have any crisis going on there because these platforms are not personal for me, they are sources of information and news that I choose to follow. I do plan to write about race, gender politics, entrepreneurship, unpaid bills and existentialism. For now I just need to figure out how to not check facebook and Insta and still be able to keep in touch with people who matter.


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