My Social Media Detox Experiment

I had been tinkering with this idea for a while to disconnect from the social media and see what impact it has on my life. I have always been focussed on my career as an athlete and especially, in the scheme of Indian Amateur Athletics sometimes I read things which just make me burst out laughing (if the person is claiming the task is more difficult than it really is) or just really annoyed (if the person is lying).

The scene is quite rough in India. Every talented athlete deserves a sponsorship, so that they can focus on honing their skills and working on their talent. After all talent without hardwork is pure waste. The sponsorship scene in India does not recognise talent. It recognises presence.

First of all, the term "sponsorship" is ridiculous. It is mainly gear. And maybe in some cases a tiny amount of money. When I was with Nike, I was flown to Bengaluru Marathon. Yes the plane tickets were covered, the hotel stay was covered but I was flown in at 9 PM for a race which started at 4 AM(or was it 5?) the next day. There was nobody to pick me up, I ended up spending money on cabs and ended up at a wrong hotel. Then I had to haggle with the autorickshaw driver who drove 1 km and asked for 500 bucks ( I told him i'm calling the cops if he didn't leave and paid a 100 bucks). I reached my hotel at midnight, finished "dinner" around 1 and then woke up at 4 (yes, the race was at 5).  Again, there was nobody at the hotel reception or on the road and I didn't know where to go. I called up the liaison who told me that he would send somebody. At 4:30 I used Google Maps to just walk to the venue, and by the time I reached the race had started, so I just ran the half marathon. And the Nike guy was abusive and total jerk, who rather than congratulating me on finishing 10th in the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon rebuked me for wearing a different pair of Nike shoes, which by the way I had cleared with the Nike Liasion in Delhi. I don't know which was worse Nike or Adidas, who threw in loose change and expected me to roll over and fetch.

I'm not saying people who are getting sponsorship aren't "talented". But there a lot more deserving athletes out there, with tiny social media presence who could benefit from this sponsorship. There a lot of guys running Sub 1:10 half marathons in India and they do deserve, free shoes if not anything else over rich folks who run 1:50-2:00 for the Half Marathon and then pose like the beautiful people's club.

PS: I am not Ronan Farrow exposing Harvey Weinstein, here. I am just the resident truth teller and that's why people dislike me. You know, truth is like poetry. And most people f***ing hate poetry.

Adidas told me to "get a social media presence". And because I was broke and attempting Ultraman, you know the 1st Indian Male to even try that, I thought why not. I generally do not accept friend requests from people I don't know, but I began to click on "Accept". My posts got 2-300 likes and I'm still waiting for that pair of shoe to arrive (from 2 years back). I had 2700 people added on Facebook and I didn't know half of them. Worst of all was their Facebook feed. I mean, if you are having a party and if you live for the weekend, KEEP IT TO YOURSELF. I live for each day, I train hard everyday. I went to sleep on New Year's Eve at 9 PM because I had an early morning run on January 1. It is just another day. Your life shouldn't be dependent on 1 DAY. (That is why I don't like birthdays either, you're just growing older. Doesn't change anything else in your life.)

Most people in this newly shallow world, live for that 1 buzz of hit from an alcoholic drink on a Saturday night. What are you doing on rest of your days? I wake up everyday looking forward to what I am going to do. I run to goal, I run and clear my thoughts and when I go to my job I do things I like. If you are feeling stuck, drinking whisky on a Saturday night will not change it. THOSE ARE SIGNS OF CHRONIC DEPRESSION. Break out of the negative spiral. Live for each day. Ok, I might be getting sidetracked here.

I can buy my own shoes. I can pay for my own races. I earn enough and if I don't, I will save money and do that. I don't want some guy, sitting in a corporate office, telling me to post with a particular hashtag. I train for myself, I train for my happiness and my goals. If they inspire people, fine. If it makes them jealous, it is their problem. But I will not sell your overpriced piece of junk, until I believe in it. I just began to unfriend people, removed almost a 1000 people and began to recognise those on my list. And then there were liars, which now that I think of it, why should I keep them on my list? I don't care what people think of me. I set my own trends and I have my set of rights and wrongs and I am a decent, morally upstanding man who doesn't believe in partying or hanging out with people until it is on a road while running a 40k training run. That for me is a party. (All that caffeine rush from an Energy Gel).

Okay wow, I have written almost a 1000 words without even getting to the point. Coming back, I decided to just shun social media for a week. To cut out the noise. You know, even having something, a small desire takes energy from you. So I just removed the temptation. I wouldn't be lying if I said, when I go online and I see someone lying, I think of a sarcastic post in my head during the run. But that's just wrong. For the entire duration of my run, I let that liar take over my brain and I know there is a better way to do it than becoming a hermit. But I thought this would help get the ball rolling.

I was offline from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Reddit and Tumblr from 1st January 2018 to 8th January 2018. I made the following observations:

The 1st day was funny. I kept clicking open the Instagram app as a reflex. Or opening a new tab on the browser and typing "F" and realising i'm on a detox.
But that saves so much phone battery. I generally charge my phone in the morning from 8 AM to 10 AM. And then use it all day and when I go to sleep at 9, the battery is at 18-20%. I use all social media apps and I play Gangstar Vegas( it is like Grand Theft Auto, but on your phone), which is an awesome game because I get to blow people up with a Nuclear Rocket Launcher. (psychopath).

On Day 1, I went to sleep with over 50% of the battery. And I played Gangstar Vegas the same number of minutes if not more.

I had so much more time, I cleaned my house on 1st January, vacuumed it, listened to Joe Rogan's Podcast with Rich Roll (which is a 3 hour long podcast and it is REALLY GOOD), listened to Mozart's 29th Symphony in A Major and Bach's Cello Suite No.1 in G, listened to an amazing TED talk by Andy Puddicombe, cooked an elaborate meal, obviously ran and I had a lot more energy somehow.
The 1st Sunrise of 2018

By the 2nd day, I already lost the desire to be on Social Media. My phone battery lasted for 29 hours despite playing games on my phone. I felt a lot more energy and found a lot more time to do other things. Maybe because I was able to sleep better just because I was not on my phone.

A lot of strong winds and waves in the lake made for an excellent picture on Day 2.

By Day 3 I didn't even care about not being on Social media. The reflex of opening Instagram and Facebook apps stopped. Though on Day 3, there was an incredible sunrise I would have loved to share.

And finally, after an year and 5 months I found an old friend.

Now I had something to distract me all-together from the phone and computer. I hadn't played guitar in over an year and my fingers were not even moving properly and I felt so out of touch. But I had TIME! And I could enjoy relearning the guitar. Maybe I can take up a job as a Street Musician *dream on*.

I'll be honest, the only thing I missed was Gwen Jorgensen & Patrick Lemieux's baby Stanley. He is the cutest kid ever and because of the state of stress my mind goes through, it is always fun to look at their posts with the baby and him smiling and sleeping, it just relaxes my mind a little. I love babies, they are honest and trusting. The way they sleep is so relaxing to watch, no stress, no worries in the world.

And maybe some posts from David Goggins and cycling/running related news.

Somehow, time passed by and I was able to spend 168 hours without Facebook or Twitter or Instagram. I loved it. Moving forward, I'll online less and less, just spreading my message of working hard and staying true to your goals, enjoying life for what it is and just log out. I made the mistake of getting entrapped by Social Media once and with no real obligations now, I don't have to be there. Removing it from my daily routine helped me feel more at peace and I hope I can keep it that way.


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