I got my first cell phone when I was in the third year of my engineering. My friends from then know how I never bothered myself with the hassles of buying a new phone as long as I was able to make and receive calls and text messages. I never saw much use for the phone above that. They still taunt me about how I used that small, little Nokia phone till it cried out loud to have a peaceful death.
I managed to change with time, never being able to keep at pace with it though. As a good friend of mine says, I would always have a phone that would be outdated by a couple of models. My dad was and still is more phone savvy than me. Anyway, I slowly graduated to an android touch phone after terrible withdrawal symptoms from my good old Nokia, which had a real keypad. (Which I inherited from my dad, btw!)
So, I grudgingly upgraded my connection to include a data plan. And that was when it began - the addiction. Like all other vices, this began slow. I would use it to check FB now and then, I had a twitter account, but hardly tweeted. I was never active on these forums, they were basically snoop tools. Just to check who is doing what, who got married, who had kids, who travelled where, who got stuck in traffic and when yadda yadda…
One day I installed the google search widget on my homescreen. And there has been no turning back.
When I was working, it felt nice to be on top of things and to stay connected. There was this obsession to “know” things. Better be informed than sorry was my policy. It felt powerful to know so much, so easily. More than anything else, it was a great way to keep myself occupied. I used to travel hell of a lot for work at one point in time. My husband and I tried to sync our travel plans so that we could get back home from the airport together. I accumulated enough miles to fund some short trips! Anyway, this was a great way to keep myself occupied while I stood in those long queues and endless waits to board flights.
Like all other addictions, when this took over my personal time and space, I could not do anything about it.
For instance, if I visited a doctor who prescribed a tablet that I hadn't had before, I would google it. And by google, I don’t mean superficial stuff. I am talking about proper, in depth research. Chemical composition, dosage, side effects, different views from different medical bodies etc. I did not have to make an effort to do all this, it came to me naturally.
I enjoyed my pregnancy thoroughly, barring one scan and one blood test report, where terms like placenta previa, pelviecatsis, fetal macrosomia, low AFI etc. were thrown at me. After being told such stuff, I felt really claustrophobic without knowing what these meant. So google! I clicked one link after another and went into this spiral of research and worry, albeit only for a day. Thankfully, I had angels in my mother, husband and friends who would speak to me and allay all my fears.
Then I graduated to motherhood. Like all other new mommies, I had no clue what happened in the first few weeks after my delivery. Then it hit me, all over again. This time around, it was a craving to know whether I am doing it right. As a mother, you get paranoid about the tiniest little things. So when my daughter started tugging uncontrollably at her ears, I googled it. After going through multiple forums, I refined my search string to “3 month old infant tugging at ear + chewing hand”. A little more research, and a little more refinement. Till I read everything that the internet had to say about it. I scoured the internet dry for articles on motherhood and parenting till the point of obnoxiouness. (Some of them have also been shared on FB, guilty as charged J )
And then, one day, I got so sick of it. Just plain sick of all the information overload and I shut down. All this after just about a week or so of indulgence! I reached a point where I did not want to know anything more and I cared two hoots about whether I was doing it right.
So I cleaned out my e-closet. I detoxed – I unliked, unsubscribed, turned off notifications and unfollowed unnecessary management mailers, job updates, baby and parenting websites. My e-life looks a lot cleaner now. That little search bar is worse than a black hole at times. And social media only sucks you in faster. The thing that this form of addiction kills apart from peace of mind is TRUST. It kills the trust you have in human beings. Be it a doctor, a family member or for that matter yourself.
Have you watched Kung-Fu Panda? The time when Po gets that moment of clarity and sense of balance? I think it is safe to say that I am somewhere near that zone now. I have learned the hard way when to use the internet and when to rely on my instincts. It took a great level of self restraint, but I have got the hang of it now. It just needed some amount of conviction to step out of all the frenzy. Now, the view from the slow lane is beautiful. And I suddenly have so much more time for everyday things and my life doesn’t seem like one mad rush anymore. You know how the grandmothers say that motherhood will come naturally? I never believed it earlier, but now I must say - it does. I don’t know how to explain it. Maybe it is the magic of the slow lane.
More often than not, the internet and all the other wonderful things associated with it have made me feel good, positive and reassured. Yes, it has improved my world view of things, I read a lot more, I have a new found love in Pinterest, I watsapp other friend mommies and it really is comforting to know that there are other people who experience things as me. I order books and stay connected with friends and family who live far away. You are reading this blog because technology has made it possible.
I feel like a hypocrite for saying this, but on the flipside, there have been a couple of times this internet spree has made me feel tired and rather miserable. And I will forever remember this lesson learnt. My mother, however, thinks I still spend too much time in front of the computer. I am working on it Amma J