Abstaining from regular (aggressive) social media browsing for 3 days is like taking time off from a drug addiction!

We Malaysians have been at home, give and take about 16 months now, interspersed by the short breaks of relief from the lockdown to break the chain of Covid-19. In this recent spate of lockdown which began at the end of May 2021 and in a full blanket over the whole country from 1 June 2021, caseloads has continued rising and breaching also the 20,000 mark yesterday to reach 20,596 and today 20,596. With vaccination numbers ramping up only after the embarrassing start that left the country behind Bangladesh, Pakistan, Indonesia, Philippines among others, our patience with the governing authorities has worn thin and not even the joy derived from the Tokyo Olympics can help to revive our spirits.

As with most lockdowns, we’ve developed a series of habits that may be detrimental to our health, more so our mental health. If at one time it is easy to say one is crazy for being mentally unfit, the buzzword of this psychology effects is today looked upon with closer scrutiny as the victims can no longer be simply assigned and reassigned to the mental institutions. It is public knowledge that many have perished through intentional suicide due to life pressures.

One bad habit that I have developed, and I believed many others too, is the constant use of the social media. What began as just sporadic entertainment has evolved to become part of life in the confines of our homes. Mobile phones are practically glued to our palms with eyes fixated to the tiny screen. If you’re as old as I am, at 46 to be exact, you’ll be squinting your eyes too when the words seems just too small or when the overbearing lights becomes, well, too overbearing.

I caught myself having my baby in my hand everywhere I went. From the bedroom to the study, to the dining table to even the holy grail of all – the cave we all couch in to unleash the fury of the day and lighten our load as we flush them away never to be seen again, except for the lingering odour which will also dissipate over time. At that point, I think and I believe I am becoming crazy for hanging on to the phone and just browsing with nothing productive entering my medula oblongata on one end and out another. To think that I was one of the forerunners in my sphere to deliberately stay away from social media and the mobile phone to now being so enamoured with it is as bad as catching Pirates of the Caribbean starring David Hasselhoff replacing Johnny Depp. It’s grave, bordering disgusting.

So before I lay my tombstone as a victim of social media and the mobile device as the murder weapon, I compelled myself to a 3 day fast from the “demon”. The result?

Lowering the dials for sanity.
Lowering the dials for sanity.
(Photo by Ann H on Pexels.com)
  1. Better Sleep
  2. Better Focus
  3. Better Grasp of the Big Picture
  4. Reading Proper News
  5. (Actually) Reading A Book
  6. A Sense of Knowing But Not Panic Stricken
  7. Peace from Malaysia’s Political Upheavals
  8. Quality Time
  9. The Privilege to Read the Word of God & Feel His Guidance & Promptings
  10. The Opportunity to Write This

Truth be told, the fact that I could conjure up those 10 points above is to no credit of mine, rather it was actually after a morning devotion of His word that led me to strictly whip me away from the tempting devils. I must say, it did a lot of recalibrating to the soul and mind that deserve the rest from it all.

If you are interested to know a little more from the 10 points, please follow me to the subsequent parts below.

Better Sleep

The secret sauce to a productive tomorrow.
The secret sauce to a productive tomorrow.
(Photo by ArtHouse Studio on Pexels.com)

This can be largely attributed to zero phone time when my head hits the pillow before sleep. I can tell you, I’ve been having much deeper sleep in the last 3 days than say the last 3 months or so when the phone was just brightly lit before my eyes right before I turn to sleep.

Better Focus

Powerful posture to last the day.
Powerful posture to last the day.
(Photo by nappy on Pexels.com)

With dwindled business on all fronts, we as the “work horse” must continue to gallop to scour for opportunities and render out work in immaculate quality. These 3 holy days have given my mind more room to focus on the important work stuff than when the social media notifications were ever ready to pounce. Not this time!

Better Grasp of the Big Picture

Transport your mind.
Transport your mind.
(Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com)

Again, when you have a longer and expansive runway, you get to see further even without the zoom lens. This magnifying sightline was not as easily attainable when your mind is often preoccupied with short term myopic thinking and drawn to quick reactions to the social blitz and flashes from facebook and IG that disrupt your thought patterns.

Reading Proper News

As opposed to browsing just local headlines, which have been dominated by the very disturbing political manoeuvring between the government and the opposition, and sometimes also involving the king, these 3 days have given me some space to also read my favourite Al Jazeera to see what’s been happening around the world.

Yes, Al Jazeera may also be skewed but at the very least, I am comforted by what’s happening in the untold or less informed like Greece, Lebanon, the Indian Ocean and even selected gems from Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and more. And did you know, there is a controversial infrastructure project in the Indian Ocean that is likened to the much talked about Chinese military base in South China Sea? Yes my friends, go read some good news at Al Jazeera.

(Actually) Reading A Book

Napoleon's Wars, a long time coming...
A long time coming…

And when was the last time you actually picked up a printed book to read? It is still early days but I managed to pry open an old book about Napoleon that was never finished from the time I bought which was what, a decade ago? Truly refreshing to read from the start again…and just by reading the introduction you’ll get a sense that the world has never stopped being at war, what more when the Europeans just almost couldn’t sit still from their colonising habits. It is also heartening to know that before the Brits were the world superpower, the French had that title or so according to the book.

A Sense of Knowing But Not Panic Stricken

If the world ends, the world ends.
If the world ends, the world ends.
(Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich on Pexels.com)

In reference to the barrage of negative news about Covid-19, let’s admit that we have been bombed incessantly about the lack of performance in mitigating the virus. From talks and even debates about vaccination, death toll, ivermectin, test kits etc., it can really wear your spirits down and send chills down your spine if you’re not as informed to stay calm and alert.

These 3 days, I’ve had 3 solid state of mind to avert from potential panic from the unceasing display of government and health ministry’s failures, and for that matter society in turmoil because of it.

Ivan Tan

Peace from Malaysia’s Political Upheavals

Anchored,. away, at peace.
(Photo by Alexander Bobrov on Pexels.com)

Because the endless power struggle by the government and the opposition can be stressful to follow, one must know which battle belongs to them.

Despite my age, I am still considered a politics novice simply because I never bothered to follow it before the age of 30 with very little history to back me too after I began to show some interest after 40. Today, my only prediction is the incumbent will continue to remain in power until the next General Election regardless of the war cries that may come out of the opposition. Of course I feel cheated having voted in the opposition to rule but at this time and age, with mounting pressure to make a living and still incremental bills to pay, politics must be set aside to make way for better priority in my life. My only hope is the current government does not intentionally let it slide down to the level of a failed state with hyper inflation, poverty and hunger as common sights in the country.

God bless Malaysia!

Quality Time

This was our lockdown Chinese New Year 2021 in the earlier part of the year....so you can imagine....
This was our lockdown Chinese New Year 2021 in the earlier part of the year….so you can imagine….

Like the chat I had with my daughter last night and actually recommending and picking out some books for her to read, it just never came before the 3 liberating days. I could also pay attention to what she was saying and responding to the conversation earnestly with frank responses. Not that I have neglected her all this while but seriously, I could feel the difference in the conversation – genuine, truthful and almost tangible to touch.

The Privilege to Read the Word of God & Feel His Guidance & Promptings

The best start to any day.
The best start to any day.
(Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on Pexels.com)

How social media can so easily replace His time with us is something we must be watchful of, especially in turbulent times like this.

About a decade ago, to indulge in His word every morning was just the revitalising touch I needed to start the day. Today, this is like a rare commodity and you can’t even pay to have it even if you have the money.

I am most thankful to the Lord for gently prompting me to fast for 3 days from what has impaled into my life uninvited. These 3 days have helped calm my nerves and set a few things right. The order of which will be revealed in due time including my first book dropping in September and I can only look forward to more productive time with the Lord in the days to come.

The Opportunity to Write This

...and something worth writing.
…and something worth writing.
(Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com)

With a clear mind, one is able to put thoughts rather effectively…and you know, it is not easy to write when you don’t have clarity about the message, much less be inspired by what you are to pen. Thankfully today, although this is like a cheesy listicle, it does help me capture some positive motions and vibes that have come out of this because behind this short description is a plethora of platforms which we can scribble our thoughts on but when you’re empty, you just can’t spill. Very glad to have put a pause to social media for 3 days. Blissful to say the least!

p/s: I might just continue to pause 3 days every week or every fortnight from here onwards and maybe you should try too!