A couple of years ago, I was having a conversation with someone who was shocked when I told her I hardly use social media and hadn’t watched any tv shows recently.
So how do you spend your time, she asked me with a puzzled expression on her face.
For many, free time has almost become synonymous with spending time on social media or streaming platforms.
The average internet user spends 2 hours 25 minutes on social media daily.
Netflix reports that its 117.58 million subscribers watch around 140 million hours of content each day. The average Netflix user has watched 49 days’ worth of TV shows and movies since creating an account.
Time is an invaluable commodity that is impossible to replace once it has passed.
And one of the easiest ways to waste time these days are on social media apps and streaming platforms. I say waste because they can get addictive to the point that it becomes a compulsive behaviour, and we subconsciously choose to spend time on them instead of intentionally making a choice.
I was someone who spent a lot of my free time on social media. I was hooked on it from 6th grade till the 10th grade when I was pretty active on platforms like Orkut and later Facebook.
(Back then, social media was more about chatting with people online and less about scrolling through newsfeeds.) While it was fun chatting with friends, when I look back at all the hours I spent online, I don’t think it added any lasting value to my life.
One of the main reasons we spend time on social media and streaming platforms is to entertain ourselves.
But what if there was an activity that could do a lot more than entertain you but also add real value to your life at the same time?
I’m talking about reading.
Reading — whether that’s books or magazines, transports me into another world and makes me forget all my worries and concerns.
One of my main objectives with my blog right from the start has been to share with others the things that have had a positive impact on my life.
And quite possibly, nothing has had as much of a positive impact on my life as reading.
Books and magazines have entertained me, inspired me, expanded my mind, made me a better person, and helped me learn so much.
They have also been a great source of company and have made me feel less alone by seeing my innermost thoughts articulated in books.
If I could go back to my school days when I spent so much time whiling away on social media, I would advise myself to read more.
Now, of course, I know that’s not possible, but as consolation, I can at least turn more people on to the pleasure and joy of reading.
Some people identify themselves as those who don’t like to read. But I believe virtually everyone loves to read. If they say they don’t, they may have not read great books or discovered what a pleasure it is to read yet.
People have a fear of missing out when it comes to staying away from social media, but I’d argue that by not reading, people are missing out on so much more and do themselves a big disservice.
Now I know sitting down and reading a book may not be as tempting as watching tv shows or spending time on social media.
But binge-watching shows or aimlessly scrolling through social media can make you feel unproductive and feel as if you are wasting time, whereas reading a good book makes you feel like you spent your time well.
If you are not in the habit of reading, and don’t know where to start, follow your curiosity and look for books that interest and fascinate you.
While I like to read fiction, the books that have had the biggest impact on my life has been non-fiction books such as biographies, memoirs, spiritual and personal growth books.
So, I’d like to ask you a question.
When you look back on your life 5-10 years from now, do you think you will be happy with how you spent your free time?
Well if you decide to spend a good amount of your free time reading, I’m pretty sure your future self will thank you for it.
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