Red pill…anyone?

I had written this blogpost in 2015.

About detoxing from the digital medium.

Its nearing the end of 2021. The disease still has not gone. Many detoxes done, and possibly many to go. But this addition is such that we have now normalized it.

Much like a pandemic becomes an endemic in due course.

And so it’s now normal to eat with the phone in one hand, sit in the washroom, drive(!!), even speak to people while continuing to scroll the never-ending line of garbage that get’s doled out as news and updates.

Something has to be done about this. And fast!

The past few days have been challenging. Possibly right up there with the toughest times in my life. I have been fighting…and fighting hard. Sometimes it feels like a losing battle, but then I manage to get hold of myself. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy…but I didn’t know it was going to be this hard as well…

Ok. If you have reached this line, without calling me to check on me already, remind me to delete you from my list of 3 am friends. I know I sounded depressed, and in a way, this is close to clinical depression. I have, for the past few days, been undergoing what is known as a partial digital detox.

For the uninitiated, digital detox is, in simple terms, working on getting rid of our overwhelming addiction to our devices, especially the smartphone. Take a moment to look around you…while walking, while in the elevator, while eating, even while driving. Why around you, take a look at yourself. We are glued to our phones. Just read that we, on an average, unlock our phones 110 times a day, that is, 5-6 times an hour, or once every 10 minutes nearly. And thats just unlocking it. Doesn’t include the time we spend ‘updating’ ourselves with Twitter, Facebook, Whatsapp, email and yes, clicking the selfie (which in itself, has been now termed a medical condition). Wow. thats a lot of time, now that you think of it, isn’t it?

And I was way above-average. Until now.

A few days back, on a whim (and coz of rapidly diminishing data plans), I turned off my mobile data. Now, unless there was wifi, I had no connect to the internet from my phone. The first few minutes were terrible. By force of habit, my hands automatically unlocked the phone, stared at the screen, and then consciousness kicked in. This happened not once, not twice, but for 2 whole days.

And then suddenly, I felt the odd man out. Would enter the elevator and wonder what to do for the next 31 floors, with everyone else glued to their devices, sometimes just scrolling up and down. Eating was a pain, coz I had to see and taste the food, and not scroll through twitter while chomping away.

Driving was boring, after all, who stays an hour without even touching one’s phone? How many updates I missed! I had to make conversation with friends I met for a drink, that too for hours at a go. Even walking to and fro from my car was a stretch, I actually had to look around and find new people at the reception I didn’t know existed.

And then suddenly, I felt the odd man out. Would enter the elevator and feel free for the next 31 floors, looking around at everyone, observing, watching them fiddle with their phones coz they just didn’t want to look up and smile. Eating was a revelation, I realized that taste doesn’t merely lie on the tongue, but as they say, I could ‘feast my eyes’ on what I ate. Each morsel tasted different (no it wasn’t the salt), I felt content. Driving was a pleasure, with my eyes focussed on the road, and I actually saw how beautiful the way to my house is. And well, as I once read (err..on my phone), two months down the line, it isn’t really going to matter if you were the first to know about that deal Greece signed; eventually, breaking news does become stale in a few hours.  I could now spend quality time with friends, hearing what they have to say, without pretending to do so. Even walking to and fro from my car was different, and yes, the receptionist is so pleasant to look at!

Am now a believer. Rediscovering myself and the world around me has just started, and I am working hard to keep it this way…

The Matrix had this central concept of the blue pill and the red pill. Well, I just took the red pill. And boy, has it been an exhilarating experience.