Social Media: Entertainment, Productivity Tools and Something On Vedanta

I wanted to write this blog for last 2-3 weeks, but somehow it kept on getting delayed. Finally, here it is…


 

Apple iPhone 6 has a feature called Screen Time. It tracks the time you access a specific app and gives you break-up of how long you use iPhone and for what. The broad categories are “Entertainment”, “Social Networking” and “Productivity”.

You can also set limits for various Apps – for example, 30 mins for Entertainment and so on. Once you exceed limit, and if you access the App, it warns you that you have exceeded the limit and then allows you to access App for another 15 mins or for indefinite time as per your preference.

The feature is really useful to diagnose your phone usage (though you already know it vaguely).

Here is a snapshot of my screen time in September 3rd week or so (a working day). 9 hrs and 23 minutes spent on iPhone! And the break-up is even more alarming – 4 hrs 28 mins spent on “Entertainment”, 3 hrs 37 mins spent on “Social Networking” and just 24 mins spent on “Productivity” 🙂

This is definitely something I need to address, and I have in fact done that of late – set App limits and am slowly bringing down the time limit for each App. However, I am not too worried. The technology/tools categorizes the Apps only based on a certain logic – which, I would argue that, doesn’t make sense in my case.

For example, I spend a lot of time categorized as “Entertainment” on Youtube or Music Streaming Apps (I use 5 – Amazon Music, Wynk, JioMusic, Gaana, and SoundCloud). On Youtube, I mostly watch some learning contents or some good interviews related to education, politics, science, technology, investing, management, TED Talks, sports, spirituality, books and reviews etc. I wouldn’t call this as pure “Entertainment”, just because YouTube App is tagged as “Entertainment”. The 5 music Apps I use are for specific kind of curated music contents/lists, which I access mostly during my commute to work or back home, and at times, while I go to sleep. Again, I would argue that I put my time to better use when I am mostly doing unproductive thing such as sitting in a bus.

Same with Social Networking – most of the 3 hrs and 37 mins is spent on Twitter or blogging sites such as WordPress/Medium (including time spent on my own blog). On Twitter I follow and am always in search of interesting things/people related to education, science, technology, investing, spirituality etc. So I wouldn’t consider that time as “Unproductive” (as separate from time spent on “Productivity” category).

In fact, coming to “Productivity” category, it includes E-Mail Apps, File sharing Apps (Dropbox etc), which are not necessarily about Productivity per se.

Anyways, that’s the category label decided by Apple and markets.

My point is: I don’t feel that looking at Screen Time data I need to panic and change my lifestyle drastically.

Technology is a tool. It can capture information about you. But it cannot “know” you. At least not so far. But yes, sometimes I may be wasting my time on phone and I need to curtail that. To that extent the Screen Time feature is useful – to pose a right question to me, that is: “Am I using my time properly? Do I need to change anything?”

Coming to the next part of the blog on “something on Vedanta”. I have read few things (not in depth) on Vedanta, watched few video lectures, and it has intrigued me a lot! I also know very few people who practice/follow Vedanta. And I observe few common traits among them (they are in no way connected and belong to very different background, age and geographical location). I also follow few Vedanta resources online, mainly Twitter.

One of the persons I follow on Twitter goes by name “Atmaprajnananda”. Here is a pic of his Twitter profile.

He tweets regularly on Sanskrit Shlokas and follows up with English translation. He comments on meaningful quotes from Japanese, Chinese and other cultures and comes up with relevant or equivalent Sanskrit quotes from Hindu scriptures.

But I came across below tweet by him on a Chinese Proverb where he quoted Indian PM Narendra Modi. People who know me know that I do not like the PM or his ideology (but more strongly, him as a person). And I didn’t appreciate that the person whom I follow, who I consider as a source of wisdom and a Vedantin used a political person. So I commented and registered my protest. Check the tweet and my response.

After tweeting that response I thought for a split moment if I had reacted too strongly, was it really needed. And I was about to delete my tweet. And to my surprise, he promptly noted my comment and replied back with following comment.

He immediately deleted his tweet. He also liked my reply to his comment.

And he also commented once again.

I don’t know whether I stretched it too far. Or whether I led him into some awkward zone. But one thing I highly admired was just the fact that he listened – which is not so common. Had this been a pseudo Vedantin (a Bhakt disguised as an impartial Vadantin), he would have fiercely argued with me or ignored me (without deleting his political tweet). May be he deleted the tweet just to teach a lesson to a childish and immature person like me. Not sure.

But it was something important interaction for me. I learnt something! Much more than what the Screen Time feature would ever teach me or help me.

Again, it is not the technology or tools that broaden your horizon, understanding. It is people, stories, experiences and your own introspection.

 

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