Even though I got my first license at the age of 15, it was only recently that I learned to drive straight. It took me over 10 years to learn but I finally did it! Even with all my accidents, warning signs and near death experiences, finally, I learned to stay in my lane. With information like that, one would think that my driver’s license was getting revoked.
On July 6, 2015, I realized that it was better to stay in my lane, focus on my personal journey and get to my destination. Prior to that, like most people my age, I was focused on the wrong things. I was focused on social media, what my friends were doing, what was going on in the news, what my coworkers were doing etc. Instead of what mattered most– ME.
Earlier in that week of July, a friend visited Orlando and didn’t mention it to me. I was furious. Each time I visited my friend’s town, I wouldn’t hesitate to let her know. However, when she visited my area, she wouldn’t bother to text. I was disappointed. It was at that point that I realized that I placed too much emphasis on others. Unfortunately, they did not place the same emphasis on me. I craved the attention of other people. Social media was a primary source that fed these cravings. It was as if this attention solidified my identity in society.
On July 6, I broke those chains. Gone were the days that I’d spend four hours straight on Facebook, stalking people looking at what this person or that person was doing. Half of them I didn’t know but somehow I took pleasure snooping into their lives. My nosiness caused me to lose track of time. Eventually, my day would be unaccounted for. I was either focused on what people were posting or focused on trying to post things about myself. It was validation. I’m here doing the things that you wish you could do, living the life that you wish you had–sort of. Except I was unhappy.
At that time my relationship with my partner was rocky, the one with God was weak and relations with loved ones wasn’t where it could be. I had had enough. So I decided to cut myself off. I deleted social media–Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat, GroupMe, and Twitter. More drastically, I deleted ALL of my phone contacts. Granted they were backed up on my Google account but still, my phone was completely empty. After that, I vowed that I would only add and keep up with people who reached out to me.
In the beginning, it was rough. I felt cut off from society but most of all, I felt alone. It felt like I was no longer was in the “know”. I was now an outsider with no contact to the real world. The first person that contacted me was my mom, followed by my dad and other family members. After them, a few friends contacted me. Within a month less than 10 people were saved to my contact list. Before, I had over 300 contacts in my phone and 1,000 Facebook “friends”.
Over time, this number would grow to about 50. It never reached 300 again but that was alright. If there were only 10 real people in my life that truly cared about my wellbeing then so be it. It took a while for me to accept that, but in time I learned to appreciate moments with those closest to me instead of being distracted by my phone.
My experiment showed me that society and particularly social media is engineering us to spend more time on others instead of ourselves. That time could’ve been used to accomplish so much more. That’s valuable time that we will never have again. So what are you doing? Put your phone down and make the most of your day. Stay in your lane. Stay focused on YOU.