Social media

Social media and the idle mind

The age of valuable information underwent a massive transformation when digital devices landed in our hands. The introduction of social media has brought drastic changes to the way we operate. The classic agenda of any social media app was to connect people from all kinds of different parts of the world and allow them to post personal memories or opinions.

Now, it also means being in constant contact with each other in real time through the “stories” feature of most apps. There is rarely room for quiet reflection during the day. The happenings of our distant friends, celebrities, and acquaintances seem to take up a lot of our quiet headspace. Should we be constantly in contact with the world and our social environments in real time thanks to digital media?

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If we observe Japanese culture closely, they like to fold their clothes in a particular way, they like to keep the spaces of their house in a definite order, and they like to take care of their household chores conscientiously. Most of these activities are external, tangible and haptic, which involve physicality and movement.

In the world of smartphones, we are often hard on ourselves when “downtime” creeps into our minds during our work routine. There is a hidden need to fill these idle time gaps with a browsing session of many “story” updates from the people we follow.

Due to this constant bombardment of information, the attention span of the current millennial is shrinking day by day. In today’s world of ‘content creation’, powerful sub-60 second attention grabbing forces budding minds, artists, filmmakers and musicians to constantly reinvent their creative practice. This forces content creators to post material as if they were producing goods in a factory.

The need for immediate exposure and instant gratification prevents us from understanding the evolution of our own creative processes. A creative practice and the means of this practice only mature with time and experience.

The film’s producer pitches an idea to a music director, saying, “I want a trending song.” When asked about the context of the song, there seems to be a blank look on the producer’s face. The artist’s creative limits are limited to “trending” hashtags. The public who gorge themselves on this fast food no longer knows how to judge so much content, leaving the algorithms to speak for them.

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Social media helps draw the world’s attention to our work. It is also a democratic space, allowing people from all walks of life to express their opinions. In 1955, on the recommendation of John Huston, Satyajit Ray managed to send a copy of his first director’s film Pather Panchali for the premiere at MOMA, New York. This motivated him to make more films.

A global look at your work is always new learning for the maker. However, on the other hand, the social media space is quick to judge your work with a bunch of
comment, like or share within minutes of posting your work.

There is no more room to ruminate on the ulterior motives of your work experience. Being constantly too engrossed in calibrating toward new standards of recognition or channels of attention in the social media space can keep us from finding purpose.

After the artwork is completed, there must be enough time and space for the artist and the artwork to understand each other. The
the work of art must also include the artist. It always takes time.

An idle mind does not always mean an unproductive mind. It is an open mindset that invites outside experiences that inform us of the world in unique ways. It also invites us to reshuffle our memories, confront real-world issues, and prioritize our realistic goals. Since the dawn of the Internet, we have constantly reduced the channels of information about our external environments. Human-to-human interactions have decreased significantly.

It’s good to remember that every second we spend on the app exploring someone else’s story could be used to build our own if we go the extra mile to step into the real world and to learn from it. It’s good to take a break and
to be ignorant in this data driven world. It is completely acceptable to be singled out for being different and getting out of the bubble.

We need to give ourselves enough time to fight the issues that concern us and start a private dialogue with our real-world experiences. This allows us to build strong stories that support and shape our communities.

There’s the old adage, “An idle brain is the devil’s workshop.” Right now, we might reinterpret the same thing and say, “A numerically inactive brain is the refuge of an angel.”

(The author is a Bengaluru-based writer and musician.)