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How We Are All Leading Half-Lives

Kanika Kumar

Recently, I made a resolution to not check my smartphone for WhatsApp notifications and FB posts first thing in the morning. And I did a big skip in my head, when I had successfully completed two weeks of resisting the temptation to get back to the annoying habit that spoilt my mornings. You see, I have better things to do, like preparing lunch for my ten-year-old, waking him up on time and seeing him off at the bus stop. When I was checking my phone, I got a bit too lost in the habit, my mornings would become harassed, and I would often end up harassing my child too. Now that I am de-addicted, I have begun to relish my mornings, and so has my son. Mornings have become more like how mornings should be.

But my personal life is not why you are reading this article, right? I must be having something to write to about that big, bold headline that has been plastered up there. Unfortunately, for me and you, my personal life happens to be connected with yours because that is the pattern in the world these days – trying really hard to stay away from the smartphone, at least for a short while.

Well, guess what, even if you happen to become as successful as I am with the smartphone de-addiction, you really are thinking about it, by trying not to think about it. The thing is, according to recent research, when we are all going “stay away from the damn thing” in our minds, our brain is working on staying away from the “damn thing.” So, a part of our brain is still thinking about the smartphone, whichever way. So much for that big happy skip of mine.

This brings us to the point where I try to explain how we are leading only half-lives. For us to perform any activity thoroughly, our brain needs us to be focused on that one activity alone. This means that our entire brain has be thinking only about the task on hand. Isn’t our brain one entire thing by itself? No, it is not. It is divided into various sections, each part working on certain specific tasks like storing and retrieving memories, sending signals to the rest of the body or working on our emotional needs.

Essentially, we are not supposed to be multi-tasking. But that is exactly what we are doing, and quite successfully too. The next question would be – what is so wrong with that, we are getting the job done, and that’s what matters. It might be true, but we are also draining our brain’s batteries pretty quickly, and when the brain needs its beauty sleep to recharge itself, we are eating into the sleep time by logging into our social media accounts and holding nightly, long-drawn battles within our WhatsApp groups.

To top it all, we keep thinking about our virtual lives throughout the next day. Result is that our brain is working only by half. While one half of our brain is grounded in reality, the other half is taking part in a virtual reality show. So, we move through a typical day only half-listening, half-talking, half-tasting, half-feeling, and ultimately only half-living. All of this leads to stressed out days culminating in physical and mental health problems.

That brings us to the final question – how do we get out of this show, that is if we really want to get out, because this only works for those who wish to get out and are willing to work towards it. Quite frankly, I am not one of them. I might have slowed down, but I still don’t have the itch to get out of this virtual reality show. I have a brother though, who has avoided this zone, and I am going to try and list down what he does for those of you who want to be completely grounded in reality.

  1. Use the smartphone for what it has been designed for, which is to organize your day, set reminders, make task lists, and communicate only “when the need arises.”
  2. Set social media limits, and follow them. My brother loves me, but won’t turn an eye towards any of my social media requests and rantings during the weekends.
  3. Also, after nightfall, use as little as possible of the gadgets that emit blue light. This would include smartphones, tabs and computer monitors. I can understand that this can be quite the challenge, but like I said before, this is only for the ones who are willing to take the plunge.
  4. Lastly, the one thing that the world needs but is running away from – be present in the moment, for we have only one life and it is meant to be lived fully.

Kanika Kumar is a poet-writer who is trying to make sense of and organise the great chaos that exists within and outside her.

If you want to lead a full-life and need some help with it, you will get it from Abirambika Ravivarman. She is a life coach who has made it her life’s mission to help people lead full lives. Register for her workshops here.

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