I connect to the Wi-Fi, type in my username and password, and enter the screen.
Headphones on, charger plugged, desk lamp off; the screens lure me with the ecstasy of escapism, delaying the return to reality, again.
Through the bright little rectangular monitors, I step out from my bedroom. I jump from Instagram to Whatsapp, between Facebook and Snapchat, from my laptop to my phone, swimming through different conversations, interacting and connecting through social media — it feels good.
Yeah sure, negatives are to be considered, but the good should not be ignored. I only started to communicate because of social media. For introverts like me, it is a perfect platform to express myself and chat with other people.
Bing! A message rings in, and my room fills up with the tac of the keyboard. Bing! A Snapchat streak, and I burst out with laughter. Bing! A new comment to reply to on Facebook. Bing! A new story to watch on Instagram. Bing!
A new notification reads: Your battery is running low (10%).
I creep out of my bed, hastily reaching out my hand to check whether my laptop charger is plugged in. Settling back, I get back to the routine.
Whenever I dive into my screen, it almost feels like I am diving out from the real world. I see all these people who I have never met, go to places I have never been, and just wrap myself with all these little stories of others’, by scrolling through media.
Confused, scared, and annoyed, I try to figure out why my screen is blank. Of course, the switch was not turned on.
Now all I see is my reflection in the screen, which seems lonely. I try to go back to my world, or the world that was made by others. I try to go back, because the silence makes me feel uncomfortable.
I want those people to fill in the gaps. I want their laughter and noises to clear out the empty air. I want the bright screen to make me forget about this dark room. I want more of their lives. I want it all — the perfect happy lives that I see — because I do not have it.
While waiting for my computer to restart, I try to find my replacement — my phone.
I blindly reach out to the place I have last placed it, only to feel a soft bed cover. Jumping out of my bed, I hurriedly go through my bag. No. My drawer. No. My closets. No. I cannot find it.
Where is it? Where IS it? Where IS IT? I briskly tap my feet, shake my legs, and bite my nails. I try to think but the only thing that I can think is — where is my phone?
I sit down on my bed, scared, as sweat starts to drizzle down my temple, and as my heart beat accelerates. My mind goes more bizarre with my panic attack, and I start to blame my isolation on the people offline.
Why do people offline not care about me? I hate being offline. I have no one to talk to, to laugh with, to lean on, nor to even ask: hey, how was your day? This feeling of isolation escalates day by day, chasing me off, almost forcing me to live online.
Quietly sitting on my bed, this chain of blame blesses me with an epiphany.
Did social media cause this? What if the reason I have nobody is that my face is merging with the screen? What if I am the one who is cutting off from the real world and chasing an illusion? Or was it the desolation which pushed me into this loop between isolation and escapism?
What if, I get out of my screen?
My laptop screen brightens, and rings: Bing!
The sound of the notification rings in my ears as I simultaneously close the door behind me. It feels good — finally stepping out of my room, into the world.
The room silences itself after the ring of the last notification, only to welcome back the rushing soul who dashes into the room, trading a real escape for a digital one, again.
Author’s note: the content above does not represent any real-life person (hopefully).