Jigar Patel Driving fast in a slow lane!

Simplifying My Life

June 12, 2014 / Jigar Patel

Last week when I was talking to my cousin and his friends about their board exam results, it hit me that it has been over a decade since I graduated from high school. Looking back at my life, I realized how simple it was and how focussed, productive and happy I was. There were no cellphones, the desktop computer had a slow 64 kbps internet line and no viral stuff to catch up to.

Planning events used to only involve fixing time and place. Everybody used to reach on time for that Sunday noon movie show that you planned on Friday morning during school hours. Nobody needed any reminders on phones or bloody text messages. Now, planning an event as simple as a movie show involves tonnes of WhatsApp and Facebook messages. You even need to send confirmation messages just before the event lest someone is planning of bailing out.

When you wanted to talk to a friend, instead of sending a stupid “Whaddup” on WhatsApp, you used to get on your bike, go to his place and shout his name till he gets out of his balcony to say “Wait, I am coming!” or his mom comes out to scold you. When you saw an exciting wrestling match on TV, instead of posting a Facebook status or a Tweeting about it, you called your friend on a landline phone and told him to check out the fight on Start Sports and discussed “how Undertaker kicked Big Show’s a$$” the next day at school.

When you went out for a lunch or dinner or when you were just sitting with your friends after a match or a class, you used to talk via your mouths and not through WhatsApp messages. Now, when you hang out with your friends, everybody looks down at their smartphone screens. When you went for a trip, instead of clicking pics and posting them on Facebook with witty one liners, you used to enjoy and experience the scene. When you went out for a meal, instead of posting stupid food pics, you used to enjoy the meal. After reading a book or an article, instead of Tweeting about it, you used to think over it. When you had nothing to do, instead of staring at your smartphone screen scrolling through your Twitter timeline, you looked at your surroundings or talked to strangers or just did nothing. How hard is it to just sit and do nothing without staring at your smartphone?

When I compare today with my high school days, it feels that I have become a narcissistic droid. When I see an article or a post, my first instinct is to share it. I am bombarded with crap disguised as news and articles in real time. I have way shorter attention span and I can’t focus for long hours. I could read an entire magazine in a single sitting, and now I can not even read an article without taking multiple breaks or without switching through multiple tabs on browser. When someone shares a joke with me, instead of laughing I am like “Meh! I’ve read it!”.

When engineers see a broken thing, they try to fix it. I too will try to fix my life and it begins today. I have laid out some rules that I will try to follow.

  • I will try not to carry my phone with me all the time. I am not a doctor or a fire fighter that requires me to be on call 24x7. Not carrying a phone would also free me from staring at my smartphone screen when I am with someone or when I am sitting idle.

    I will have to carry a phone diary and rely on public phones. I might also start remembering some phone numbers.

  • I will use my computer / internet only for creating stuff (except for those occassional gaming / movie watching binges).

  • I will limit news reading and social networking to once a day. I will prefer if someone tells me about viral items (jokes) or I see them in newspapers or TV over checking them out on Twitter or Reddit.

  • I will use pen / paper instead of apps for simple tasks.

  • I will try to call / email my friends instead of sending a stupid “ssup” message on Facebook or WhatsApp.

  • I will read more books, magazines and newspapers instead of blogs and online sites.

As with every idea, this too shall pass the trim, iterate and optimize cycles.