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Scholarship Entry: How Dropping Social Media Changed My Life

The One Healthy Routine that Changed my Life is . . .

The following is a Pretty Sweet writing scholarship entry by Samira Sather, George Mason University

Social media and technology were always a big part of my life. As a young kid, I spent a good portion of my free time playing video games on the computer and watching the TV. I remember spending hours with my eyes glued to the screen, ignoring everything else, all of my attention focused on a fantasy world. I am practicing strategy, I told myself in an effort to justify the wasted childhood time.

Once I hit middle school, I was on Facebook playing the games on the network and slowly getting introduced to the social aspect of technology. I remember the games available on these social media sites were the most addictive I have ever played. I would go to sleep worried my crops would not survive the night on my imaginary farm.

Instead of spending my time actually enriching our earth, I spent time expanding my fake plantation. Samira wasn’t there to make an ecological change, she was lost in the digital biosphere.

By the end of junior high, I was very familiar with all the social networks and an avid Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat user. During my free time, I was tangled in the vines, likes, retweets, and my mind was beginning to drown in it all.

Who am I kidding? By that time, there was nothing the paramedics could do to revive me, I had completely lost consciousness. I was technically alive in the flesh, functioning like every other person, but I did not feel present. I felt the most alive when my IPod was fully charged and I was scrolling at top speed.

Contrary to what I told myself, I was not curing the boredom, I was numbing it. The only way to jolt out of my daze was for me to get my nose out of the screen, step away from the cloud and slowly, attentively, and consciously gain consciousness.

I decided I had to make drastic changes to my life and how I spent such precious time. The initial realization of leaving the addiction was the hardest part for it was like shedding a part of myself. Thankfully, I was not alone. My brother was first in quitting social media and I, his little sister, quickly followed. Within an unexpectedly short period of time, I was overcome with an overwhelming sense of clarity and peace.

For the first time in a long time, I was able to capture and manifest the simplicity of what it meant to be human. I had complete access and awareness of my consciousness and presence. To truly be with yourself when there was ‘nothing to do’ and embracing the feeling awakens a clear serenity to be one with your soul without having a care in the world what the rest of the population was up to. I was able to live through time that has once been repeatedly killed.

While I became an advocate of a life free of technology and social media and the fog that came with it, I quickly realized that I could not completely ban its use from my lifestyle in this time, age, and place. I slowly allowed the internet to re-enter my life for the better, or so I told myself. I only slightly opened the door of technology and I found myself free falling down the rabbit hole of gray space again. It is so easy to lose control of such a delicate part of your mind.

Once I used the internet to do something moderately productive, the recommendations and temptation of it all sucked me back into my absence and I forgot where I was. It took a month long, internet free trip to Egypt, to reintroduce me to the majestic feeling of tranquility in consciousness. My beliefs were strengthened even more the second time around. I understood then that I was fighting a war with myself but a single victory was worth a thousand battles.

My beliefs are tested every waking day. There are times I overcome the fascination of the hypnotic machine and there are times it gets the better of me. It’s a fight to control rejecting that dose, to just be numb. When my veins are free of the captivation of the screen, it is one of the most surreal, serene feelings in the world. But like all delicate things, with a click of a button, it’s gone.

Essay submitted to the Pretty Sweet Scholarship contest

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