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Should you quit social media? Life Hacks by Charles Assisi

‘I've gone back and forth on this. Use it wisely, I’ve discovered, and you can use it well.’
Hindustan Times | By Charles Assisi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 07, 2020 07:46 PM IST

Earlier this week, prime minister Narendra Modi tweeted that he will log out of all his social media accounts, on Sunday, and hand them over to inspiring women. Chances are his brief digital detox will compel others to examine what they are on social media for.

This is a question I had asked myself about four years ago. I had felt very conflicted about these platforms, and eventually decided to get off the social media bandwagon. At the time, I had explained my position in the business newspaper, Mint, saying, “The social web in India has degenerated into a place occupied by three warring tribes — bhakts, libtards and presstitutes… This isn’t what I had signed up for.” I pleaded that everyone get off Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Much water has passed under the bridge since then. I got back on LinkedIn some time last year. I restored Facebook two years ago, and access it once a while. I continue to be active on Twitter, in my own way.

But the social media detox taught me much. Soon after deactivating my accounts, one of the first things I realised was that I wasn’t checking my phone as often as I used to. This freed up time to do other things — such as actually meet people and engage with them in the real world, rather than exchanging emojis to articulate emotions or tilting at windmills on the back of every perceived slight.

I realised that, online, many of us act like 16-year-olds screaming for attention. That’s what social media had turned me into. An attention-seeker!

I realised that I had become a keyboard warrior — so much so, that many people, including a sitting MP, had blocked me after some particularly ugly public spats. I know now that it was a case of being brutish when shielded by a screen. Because it’s no different from playing a video game. Only the outcome matters — in this case, you gain followers, comments, likes and retweets, among other things.

I was engaging with pixels. But on engaging with the same people in the real world, those whom I had imagined to be disagreeable creatures turned to be quite agreeable human beings.

Why am I back on all these platforms then? Because sometimes I want to know what friends and family are up to, and Facebook is where they post updates. Then there are professionals whose backgrounds I need to review, and LinkedIn is where I can do that. When Twitter is used right, it can be mined for news and pointers to resources that I may never otherwise know of.

Prime minister Modi may not need these tools. But for people like us, social media, when used wisely, isn’t a bad thing. Might I suggest, don’t quit?

(The writer is co-founder at Founding Fuel & co-author of The Aadhaar Effect)

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