What’s the Price of 40 Days in Your Life?

by Sunil Robert

How long can you stay without going ‘on-line?’ Once, there was a flood in a village. Many were drowning and so the rescuers were rushing people to safety. They used anything they could, to help people get to safety. One young man, desperate to survive, found a black log, presumably a coconut tree trunk and made it to safety. When the villagers saw him, they yelled, “Let go off the log and grab the lifeline we are throwing”. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t get off the log. He replied, “I left it long back but the log wouldn’t let me go”. The log he was holding on to was actually a black bear. He wanted to let go but the bear would not.”We first make our habits and then our habits make us”, said Steven Covey.

To many people, Social media is just a pastime. But for some it’s an addiction almost bordering on disorder. A recent research says that an average youth spends anywhere between 3.15 to 4 hours on social media every day. And the biggest user group is between the ages of 14-29 year. Although I make my living through mass and social media, yet I am not indicting media. It is a great tool and we must understand the power it exerts on us.

Imagine an average user who spends 20 hours a week, 80 hours a month on social media. It is 720 hours a year, which is 40 days in a year. What can you do in forty days?

Consider the following, ‘New Habits’ to take advantage of this New Year:

Delete the Most Time Consuming Apps

Only the marketers make money for the time you spend on Facebook. First it was email, but now it is Facebook, WhatsApp, Snapchat etc. The pressure will continue to increase, but you must draw a line. Do these apps advance and contribute to your overall goals, either as a student or a budding professional? If they are not significantly contributing, they are distracting. While others are working hard, you are losing out. Time is a constant resource distributed equally. The smart know how to make time work for them. The not so smart, pass time. But then, you may ask, “What about my social network and friends?” You can always log in from your home instead of your phone. It regulates your time when you do it on a system than on a phone. This saves much time and money.

Tame Apps, Not Be Tamed; Redirection is the Answer.

Social media is inescapable, but if you know how to tame it, it can be your servant. I do not have Facebook on my phone. Each time, I am tempted to log in and lurk on Facebook, I redirect my desire to something useful that builds me to be a better person. There are so many personality building websites you could visit.

Real people and real connections have endless moments and lingering memories that run deep and longer than virtual and screen friends.

Be Aware of Acceptance Syndrome

Do you fall prey to, “you-like-my-picture and I-will-like-your-post” syndrome? Don’t let the virtual ‘likes’ become a substitute for your real life affections. It grows subtly on you, but the compulsive need for ‘likes’ and get liked is the currency that drives the social media economy. If you feel bad that your most daring act ever posted on fb went unnoticed, then you may be attaching too much importance. Girls Watch Out! It’s a caution: The likes you receive are not exactly linked to your image. Soon your overall well-being may end up n a jeopardy when no one cares. Be active in real life, use virtual/screen presence as a token. But most young people seem to be heading in the wrong direction.

Try for Novelty, Run for Loyalty

The nature of media channels is “sticky”. They measure the time you spend on the site and make money. This simply means, it is your time but their money. It is your precious God given time. On the other hand, when you spend time with friends and family ‘face to face’ the possibilities are endless.

Antidote from Social Media: Me-Time

Convert your time on the internet to ‘me-time.’ Listen to Christian music, inspiring sermons, or just audio Bible. This is a way of resetting your system. There is a no greater tool that can break through more powerfully than God’s Word. When your spirit is enriched and rejuvenated, then you can navigate through social media with purpose and intent. When you use social media, remember I Corinthians 13.

Always post positive stuff that makes people feel good. By definition, social media have turned everyone into armchair activists and professional commentators. Everyone with a phone is a guru of some subject. It is not worth battling it out in public, because no one wants their opinion to be challenged or countered on Facebook. So, they build a community of their own, get ‘likes’ and feel that they have done the good deed of the day. Arguments, even for playful reasons end up hurting people. Always be kind because behind the Facebook facade is a real individual with a need to be loved and accepted.

On the Social Media: Be an Extension of You. Not Your Hologram.

Genuine relationships are hard to substitute with virtual friendships. No matter how long you are on the social media, true satisfaction comes from real friendship when joy, sorrow, fun and laughter are shared. If you are an introvert, use social media to develop confidence in real life. If you are an extrovert, make sure that these channels do not become a snare for you. No matter what, do not let these new channels take over your life. There is a time for social media, and there is time for Sabbath. Disconnect often and recharge your soul regularly. God created us as multi-sensory beings. Explore each sense and live to the fullest.

The Year 2016 is another opportunity to reset your screen time, limit and go of it. But grab your 40 days this year. Finally, at the end of the year 2016 or your life, when you look back and ask yourself, “Where did all my time go?” The answer could be, ‘social media.’ Don’t let this be in your case.

It is easy for you to let go of bad habits but when they get a grip on you, it’s tough to break the noose. It will choke you.


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