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Taking Flight

Joining a popular social media platform was like falling in love. The same euphoria. The intense adoration. The obsession to check in multiple times a day. And the desire to put forth the best-groomed version of myself. I discovered the platform in 2009 and quickly brought along my husband Tarun so that we could be on this journey together.

My relationship with social media lasted close to a decade, longer than many marriages, I daresay. I went from a tentative poster, confused about the etiquette of social media, to a brazen diva, often posting multiple times a day. A cadre of loyal followers stood by to like, cry, comment, and sometimes spew venom at the aggravating event of the moment.

For sure, after the 2016 election, we had a bumper crop of events and personalities that encouraged conversation. We would post links for each other or a comment with sarcastic overtones. The reaction was never muted. Other links, vicious comments, pictures, memes, and superlatively funny reactions followed swiftly.

It was like water to the thirsty. Alcohol to the drunk. Dessert to the diabetic. I was perpetually connected on my laptop and on my phone. My husband often complained that it was my first priority.

During this torrid relationship, there were moments in the pitch darkness of the night when the mind wandered to the privacy question. Is my presence too open, too much, too often, too loud? The answer was always clear: yes! The intoxication weakened the resolve to do better. Family vacations, weddings, milestones intermixed with hilarity and party photos to invigorate the tired soul after long days of dry facts.

Still, the nagging voice was relentless.

As a technologist, I knew that I was one breath away from a breach. Worse yet, I knew that a breach might happen and none of us would know. As we found out more about foreign agents infiltrating the platform, the voice took on more gravitas. More reading, more head shaking, and finally the recognition that the quizzes my friends were regularly indulging in are a conduit to hell.

Gallantly, I posted a warning asking my friends to quit doing the quizzes. Within 30 minutes, I saw two friends posting results from a quiz. I had arrived at the “that’s it!” moment but the strings that bound me to my friends were not ready to be broken, yet.

Over the course of the next few weeks, I used the platform to post pictures and stayed away from political commentary. The last straw was when I posted an album of our recent visit to Jaipur. By the end of this torturous episode, I wanted to throw up from the exhaustion of dealing with the beast.

The appalling way that this particular platform has handed over our data and our friend’s data to third parties and disrupted a democratic process, coupled with my growing addiction to it pushed me over the edge. I downloaded my data, deactivated my account, and deleted it.

Yes, I have instinctively clicked on the icon where this social media app used to be on my phone and Uber now comes on ready to transport me. Yes, it is frustrating not to be able to see what people are posting. Yes, it is disconcerting to not be connected to the ones I adore. But what a feeling of relief to not be worrying about the Russians at my digital doorstep.

My footprints are everywhere inside the gut of social media. I have no illusions that those will be wiped in the foreseeable future. I know what I said is there for forensics. If our civil rights are compromised then who knows how my words may come back to haunt me. Now that voice in the stillness of the night sleeps calmly, assured that no new footprints are being made.

The flight from social media is the genesis of this blog. Welcome to my journeys, musings, photography, sarcasm, and humor. Visit, linger, comment, and enjoy!

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