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Doom Scrolling into the Abyss..

Why your Grandparents were probably right about the smartphone

I still remember when orkut came out, i was in 8th Grade and back in 2008 i did not have internet access at home. I used to rush down to the Army library in Dehradun after coming back from school, enter my name into the old library register and look forward to my "testimonials". It was never an addiction back then but a thrill to see who wrote what on my page. Looking back at this, i can see how big tech converted this rush of finding out about these posts into addictive notifications (the signs were all there!)

The Digital Revolution

Fost forward a couple of years to 2010 and i have my first hand me down smartphone, the "Nokia N79", oh those joining hands from the Nokia boot up screen bring back such great memories. And what's the first thing that we get in our home to supplement our smartphone addiction? A cisco wifi router, the perfect cocktail to ruin an adoloscent brain, mind you it was called WLAN back then. This was also the era when facebook started gaining a lot of traction, which was followed by - profile photos, likes, messages, tags, check-ins (what happened to those check-ins?). For the millenials i guess this is where the entire psychological addiction actually began, if you were not posting about your night outs and your fancy clothes you were probably rotting in your dungeon playing Assassins Creed II or in a gaming arena with the echoing voice of "Counter terrorists win". So the seeds of the FOMO addiction actually began in 2010, you better be posting cool stuff about what you were doing or you were probably a geek or lame. Sometimes i look at my posts from 2010 and just marvel at my stupidity. Why didnt she like my photo? I liked hers ? Why didnt he tag me in this photo ? Do i look ugly ? (oh you insecure kid). Facebook really came for our awareness and made sure that we paid our dues in the form of some online social interaction.

The smartphone revolution brought about bigger screens, better cameras and lower costs, the perfect ingredients for Apps like instagram and Snapchat. As Facebook had turned into an opinion based battleground apps like instagram and snpachat flourished cause all they focused was on images and videos. Does anyone even remember Vine ? Talk about bad timing with that product, i still believe that vine archives still have the funniest content packed in those 6 seconds. Incidentally that was about the time that meme pages lost all humour and we needed another fix.

Snapchat was actually pretty cool when it came out because people started sharing photos with the ones that they actually cared about and less on sharing stuff with everyone in your online world (oh and how can we forget those nudes).

And then along came tiktok, boy do i have a love hate relationship with that app, that app has destroyed more brains than any other drug addiction that i know of (it's a joke, don't cancel me). You gotta marvel the Chineese though they built the perfect app to sell their material offering, and the west was so scared of it, so many countries want to ban this app on the context of "PII security" not realizing that facebook and other apps have been giving a back door to the NSA and FBI for years.

Reddit was particularly interesting, for the first time in your life you could create a digital persona that could be anonymous and you could interact with people based on your interests. But what i found out was that it quickly became another source of online validation. Should i wear this ? Should i buy that ? Should i be doing this ? Should we be going this ? Am i the Ass-hole for doing this ? Are we so disconnected from our consciense that we need to validate everything from the internet ? For my boomer readers, those whatsapp groups are nothing but another form of awareness sucking.

Creating the Digital Ego

Look at my cool lifestyle, this is what i'm doing, look at my dinner, you see i went to that cool restaraunt you f#king peasants, i do drugs ; i'm cool now, oh you weren't invited to this cool chick's party ? Well shame on you then. Oh boy i can go on and on about what went through our heads (subconsciously, or consciously) while making those posts and reels and stories. We did our level best to create our digital personas and identities to show who we are but in reality we were far from it. Think about this really hard - Would you be showcasing your life if you are living it to the fullest ? Would you even get the time to post about what you were doing, if you were so involved in it ? Well i was no saint back then and was part of the herd posting about the night outs, the tags, the sliding into DMs with memes you name it. We often think that we are happy living this life but in reality it comes from a place of lack. The only person that we need to showcase the lifestyle is to us and us alone.

Lets see what ChatGPT has to say about digital ego -> The term "digital ego" is often used to refer to the online representation of an individual's identity, personality, and self-esteem in the digital realm. It encompasses how people present themselves on social media, in online forums, and through other digital platforms. The digital ego is essentially the persona that individuals create and maintain in the virtual world. In the context of social media, people often curate their online presence, selectively sharing aspects of their lives, achievements, and experiences. This curated representation may not always reflect the full reality of a person's life but rather an idealized or filtered version. The digital ego can be shaped by the desire for validation, social approval, and the pursuit of a positive online image. Additionally, the digital ego can be influenced by the feedback and interactions received on social media platforms. Likes, comments, shares, and other forms of engagement contribute to the digital ego, impacting an individual's sense of self-worth and social standing in the digital space. It's important to note that the digital ego is a construct of the online world and may differ from a person's offline or real-world identity. Managing the digital ego involves being mindful of the impact of online interactions on mental well-being and cultivating a healthy balance between the online and offline aspects of one's life.

So you see, even AI knows that you need maintain a healthy balance between online and offline aspects of one's life.

What happened when i quit social media ?

Somewhere along my journey, or spiritual awakening or after the dark night of the soul (or was it just psychedelics?). I found my gift of awareness coming back to me, i saw myself checking the smartphone, again and again refreshing that feed, waiting for that dopamine hit of likes, comments, views and validation. It started eating me up from within, why am i doing this ? Do i need to prove to anyone about my lifestyle ? I mean i'd like to say i've made it, i have an amazing job, i travel to multiple countries, i eat fancy dinners, but must i rub it to everyone's face ? I often catch people in between meetings and social interactions to check the smartphone - the 60 second withdrawal as i like to call it, every smartphone user is guilty of it.

For the people looking for bulleted benefits here you go -

  1. Your life starts getting much better - you start living your life for yourself

  2. No more checking the smartphone in between conversations

  3. Longer deeper social and work interactions, i can now sit for those 3 hour meetings with my full awareness

  4. No FOMO, no thirst traps - i dont feel like i'm missing out on anything.

  5. You start building the life you always wanted for yourself, outside the influence of others

  6. I no longer think about photos as "insta-worthy" or not "insta-worthy" i now click the most random photos of the most weirdest things as i've started seeing the beauty of everything

  7. You will be more present in social interactions resulting in less anxiety.

  8. Getting back 4-6 hours of your life, depending on your smartphone usage you are going to get back the time you were wasting doom scrolling

For the ones living on the plane of duality (mind you there are better planes of existence) here are some cons as well

  1. You miss out on the internet gossip

  2. You will catch a lot of people checking their phones in between conversations

  3. Social isolation, apart from you main friends, your other friends will forget about your existence (but were they your friends in the first place?)

Therefore i'd like to end this post on the fact that it isnt the smartphone that's the problem, it's what you do on it. If you can go about your life an maintain the same level of awareness, well then good for you! If not i'm sorry to tell you that you have some work to do. Meditation has been a great tool for finding where my awareness is going into.

I think there is a case for healthy social media usage - what i've found what works best for me is carving out time on a sunday evening for tiktok, it helps me collect some really cool recipes, snippets of some of the best book lessons, and some travel inspiration as well.

When i carve out time for social media, it has no control over me.

Good luck and godspeed on your journey, drop me some comments if you think i might be wrong, would love to debate further on this topic.


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