Disclaimer: My purpose of this post is not to bash social media and its users, but to suggest a positive approach towards handling it in a time where people often spend more time interacting with their phones rather than their loved ones. Social media is a great tool for making connections and spreading ideas, but too much of it produces negative affects that deter people from reaching their full potentials as they waste too much time on it. This needs to change.
What do I mean by “replacing social media with books?”
When I’m waiting in line, when I get out of class, I, along with many others around me, surrender to our phones. It’s like we all basically depend on our phones to ease our anxieties of looking like an observer of the environment around them (“oh, the embarrassment of not relying on something to keep you busy!”), or just because we crave the comfort of social interaction where we evade the vulnerability of face-to-face conversations with the people around us, especially if we don’t know them that well. Personally, I love getting to know people around me. But I am also an anxious person who gets overwhelmed when I am confronted in a situation of interacting with multiple people–not necessarily because I’m more self-conscious, but more because I find it hard to feel connected to multiple people at the same time; the conversations just don’t seem as personal to me, and I feel the stimulations of interacting with multiple people at the same time to be quite overwhelming, which causes me to freeze.
Despite my preferences of talking to the people around me and interacting with my surroundings rather than the small screen on my phone, I am often guilty of doing the latter despite my negative views toward it. The thing is, I crave connecting with people–just like we all do. When I post things on social media, it’s not exactly with the intentions of gaining validation through people’s approval as reflected by their momentary push-of-a-like-button, but more because I like making meaningful connections with the many people I interact with, social media or not. For instance, I’m not posting a photo on Instagram to see how many likes I can get, but for the purpose of sharing my excitement with people who I care about, even if I don’t know them that well, or for the purpose of sharing a piece of photography or scenery to bond with people through the beauty of art.
But perhaps, social media is not the best approach to making the connections I crave, especially for the types of meaningful, authentic human connections I crave. Sure, it serves as a good medium for some of the connections I like to make, but definitely not for a good number of them, since the greater number consists of genuine relationship-making.
So I have a proposal to make that I myself am going to try out: replacing my phone with books.
Obviously, no, I’m not going to use books to make phone calls and send text messages (thought it would be pretty cool if books could do that–perhaps this is a new potential invention I should look into make happening!), let alone using them to cruise the internet, but rather to utilize (tangible, physical copies of) books as my form of entertainment. I plan to use actual copies of books rather than pulling them off from my phone through a book-reading app, as my phone is the very device I want to avoid using so much. Sure, it may be convenient to use my phone to access books, but social media apps are just too easily accessible and thus makes me more vulnerable to the distressing distractions of them away from the focusing of the authentic intellectual elements I desire and intend to indulge in. But still, kudos to those who don’t fall pray to the sirens of social media while reading on their phones.
Personally, this is what I’m planning: I’m going to delete all of my non-built-in apps from my iPhone, with the exception of my Nike Plus Running app and Spotify which, I utilize for my daily morning runs, and I am going to always have a book in my hand the way I would have my phone while waiting in line for my drink at a coffee shop. I’m going to whip out a book after class the way I would my phone. In other words, I’m going to replace my phone’s entertainment with the entertainment of books–and I encourage others to do the same.
Not only will this personally benefit me for the purposes of significantly limiting my social media usage, but it will also enable me to a greater likelihood of making friends. Perhaps, hopefully, my “bookwormish-ness” will attract another bookworm who will ask me about what I’m reading. Maybe this bookworm will end up being a good friend of mine with whom I bond through with our mutual love for books, stories, and general ideas and creativity.