Probably the most valuable thing we possess in equal measure is the time each one of us is given, 24 hours, that is 86,400 seconds a day.
Love, wealth, fame, power, relationships etc. may come again and again, but time simply perishes.
One of the secrets of successful people are that they know the value of time and the moment. One cannot be truly effective or efficient if our time is wasted by us or stolen by others.
Government and organisational bureaucracy with their countless rules and laws make us run around in frustrating and insane circles, wasting not only our time, but consume our resources and patience. So can entitled parents, teachers, customers, vendors, associates, bosses, employees etc. all of whom can place an excessive and painful burden on our time and sanity.
However there is another grand robber of our time, 'Social Media'. To this thief we happily and readily give our time, only to regret much later.
It is now the holiday season across the world and people are busy buying gifts and thanks to 'Social Media' are sending greetings to countless other people.
With numerous peacefully co-existing faiths and our propensity to chatter excessively, Indians in particular are deluged by messages and greetings, all year long.
Isn't it wonderful? Not exactly.
Social media may have made it convenient and entertaining for users and financially profitable for businesses, but we have entered into a zone not much different from bars of today and opium dens of past. Perfectly legitimate and pleasurable, while addicting us and thereby imposing a staggering burden on our professional, social and personal lives.
Then why do we indulge in social media Information is the new currency we circulate it buying and selling, entertainment, education, news, gossip etc. Thus we receive the same message from numerous sources.
Surrounded by boredom and drudgery, social media may be helping humanity get through their days and nights, but we have become media addicts. And any sort of addiction is harmful.
Technlogy has made it very easy to copy, paste and forward messages by just a few clicks. As a result we are encountering a slow and steady decline in the quality of our lives, a case of 'death by social media'.
It is not the work that wears people out, it is the sense of loss of control of one's own life. It's not so much the lack of material things as much as the loss of time for oneself, that is consuming us.
How do I cope?
We humans possess an almost infinite capacity for entertainment and distraction. So the first thing was to recognise that my life was greatly influenced by the choices I make.
At first, I found myself becoming bogged down in the quagmire of social media. Then I snapped out of it when I found my behaviour was having a negative impact on my life.
We are fashioned by evolution to be very resilient and each individual can find some way of coping, if we wish. Social media and the internet are wonderful but double edged tools. Use it judiciously and benefit or become addicted and waste away our lives.
While I use social media, I prefer to ration and limit my time on social media.
Social media is a tertiary factor in my life, so I check in briefly on my social media accounts, when I feel like it, otherwise I devote myself to my responsibilities and my interests.
It is important to differentiate between social media and the internet.
The worldwide web, internet and Apps are very useful and have greatly enhanced productivity and quality of products and services. Whereas Social Media and messaging services are being used mostly for sharing entertainment and junk.
The trick is to use social media to take and give information and entertainment, but not get consumed by it. Only the individual himself or herself can benefit or destroy themselves.
The new year offers an opportunity to reflect and plan ahead and I send you Season's Greetings.