The dark side

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The dark side

Monday, 21 October 2019 | Neharika Gupta

The dark side

It is easy to get addicted to social media to the point of no-conversation or lack of attention to read a book. Neharika Gupta questions if social media is the new smoking trend

As per the Oxford dictionary, adulting means the practice of behaving in a way a responsible adult does, especially the accomplishment of mundane but necessary tasks.

After gaining popularity among millennials, the term has been looked at as derisive in the media.  And there is a reason for it as adulting indicates a feeling of accomplishment which young people often boast about after doing certain responsible tasks like paying bills, rent, taking care of their cars, which they are supposed to do as an adult anyway.

However, I disagree. There’s more to its meaning. As a millennial, I argue that the term captures the essence of what a lot of young people feel while coming to grips with the world. Unless we’re very lucky to have grown up in a bubble of tuition classes or headed to university for graduation and masters. The formative years, which our parents, the baby boomers or the gen X, have had in their growing up days is something we experience only when we enter our first jobs. For me, this is adulting.

Indeed, we get more exposure today and have many options to explore. We get a disposable income right from our school for canteen or through pocket money to college trips. But we think through Twitter, talk on Whatsapp, party on Instagram, look for jobs on Linkedin and watch TV on Netflix. Every thing is created well and intuitively but the collateral damage is that we have no time to think amid all this. We don’t really know who we are. In such a scenario, how will we have a deep conversation about our lives, goals and career with other people when we ourselves have no time to introspect? Our bodies are conditioned to computers, postures are hunched and thumbs unconsciously scrolling through Instagram feeds every few minutes. The list doesn’t stop here. Soon you will lose the ability to sit through your favourite Marvel film. It is an art to sit still and you will have to work for it. This is adulting.

However, one can attribute all this to the ease that mobile phones provide. It has apps which could solve almost every problem, be it getting married, selling your furniture, buying groceries or starting a SIP. But is making decisions from a screen healthy?

If we spend time comparing which app will help us solve a problem or take time to evaluate all possible options, are we not losing all our time and possibilities? If we spend a day evaluating all the information that we have, indecision will hit us hard. Now wonder, is this adulting?

The older generations utilised India’s economic policies that helped many businesses evolve. We, the gen Y, hold the golden key to the kingdom of content. Let’s not drown ourselves in an Tsunami of technology. We should use it well and divide our time efficiently. It is high time we pause and think about how social media is paving its way into our schedules and consuming most of our time.

There is a lot of creativity in terms of business, job options, recreational activities and travel experiences. The quality of life, adventure and interesting opportunities that we want to do are out there, we just need to recognise it. Creating valuable space in our lives for things that can make a difference should be the focus. It is important for us to excel in content-creation but we also need to engage physically with the world around us.

My book Adulting (published by Harper Collins India) has three smart albeit fictional individuals who have been used as case studies. The protagonist Aisha Oberoi played the social media game and rose to the top. She had the talent (and the looks) but does she has the strength to live a successful adult life? It’s a whole new ball game and she doesn’t know the rules. Aisha does not get the psychology behind social media and how society’s tacit acceptance of it doesn’t change the fact that it can take over one’s peace of mind and affect lifestyle. It is easy to get addicted to social media to the point of no-conversation or worse and lack of attention span. All of this signals towards the question, is social media the new smoking trend?

The other thing I’m advocating is depth. We all share posts on social media. But if someone leaves a lengthy comment, people ignore, they either scroll up or swipe left. We are so used to scrolling the feed, that we don’t have time to pause and read. I recall having in-depth conversations years ago at the fag-end of parties when most people have gone home. But that is not the case now. I might look like a cynical millennial when I say this, but now meeting people is sometimes cursory and just a status update in real life with no depth.

Tejas Sahni, my second protagonist demonstrates this well. He is a writing rockstar, who gets it right the first time with his first novel but cannot seem to make it work for the next. When he’s a stay-at-home writer and can Netflix and chill all day, why will he spend time writing a book or reading one? One would say that he should pause and ask himself why he wants to write but between Tinder and whiskey, where’s the time? He doesn’t understand the importance of a deep exploration into what makes him go for a craft.

Ruhi Singh, the third protagonist is the managing editor of a publishing house. She is in a tumultuous relationship that is tough on her but she likes it because it fulfills her desires. If she would have time to converse with herself and ask about the kind of person she is with, she will save herself a lot of time and tears. But she can’t because of her hustle mindset and work responsibilities. She is guilty of not being at a successful level in her life.

While my characters may seem kooky and lost (they are) they find their North star eventually. I firmly think, this coming back to the path is adulting.

Whether you are one or not, whether you like it or not, you are living in a millennial world where we have common  problems. I want my readers to take a walk and think, how can we do more of what makes us happy? Can we be brave and ask ourselves what we really want right now? We should make a five or 10 year logical plan which will help us discover ourselves more.

Let’s grab this raging fast and understand how we need to supplement our high-flying lifestyle with slow hours that would initiate deep thoughts. While you read all this, even now your mind and body longs for the next episode of Family Man (an online series). But stop and think once again, do you want to watch his family or invest time in yours.

(The writer is a writer, poet, yogi and martial arts practitioner.)

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