Question: Acharya Ji, Namaskaar.
My question is not related to Spirituality.
I am sixteen years old, and many of my friends who are of my age, are stuck to social media. They are lost in the visual world, and it is affecting their personal lives. How can they get rid of this? Is social media good or bad?
Acharya Prashant(AP): How to get rid of their personal life?
Questioner: No. All youngsters have this same problem.
AP: So you want to get rid of other’s problems.
Questioner: No, it’s my problem too.
AP: So why are you talking of others? In the spirit of philanthropy?
This is how we are. You are talking of your own Facebook account. It’s as particular, and as personal as that. It is so personal that you would not share the password even with me.
Questioner: I will share the password with you.
AP: And then change it.
But I will talk as if I am talking of a global menace. “Oh my God! You know, it is affecting the American elections, you know. The Russians got Trump elected by interfering. And therefore I am concerned.”
Why must you put it this way?
So, what is wrong with Facebook then?
Questioner: There is nothing wrong, but it is addictive.
AP: So what’s wrong with being addicted?
Questioner: It wastes time.
AP: How does it tell you that time is being wasted?
Questioner: We are continuously opening the app and checking notifications.
AP: That’s okay. But how does it tell you that time is being wasted?
Questioner: Our parents say that.
AP: So now you bring the Global Parents Association in the picture. So you are saying that on one hand Facebook attracts you, and on the other hand parents stop you. That is your condition.
It is as simple as that. Why don’t you put it this way? That would make it easier for me and you. “I want to do a lot of Face-booking, but Mumma tells me that it is bad habit. And I do not know what to do. Though I know what to do, that is what I do everyday. I tell Mumma to go away, but still she keeps bugging. That is the problem.”
So, the question boils down to – how to keep pestering parents away?
Questioner: No, how should we minimize our time on Facebook?
AP: And still get as much satisfaction.
More bang for the buck. Yes. Small packet, big return. Yes.
Do we know what we want? Do we even understand what our wants are, and where they are coming from, and what do they actually mean? Do we even articulate them rightly? Do we?
Alright! Let’s go into it. So you say that time is being wasted on social media. When do you call something as ‘wasted’? When do you call something as ‘wasted’?
Questioner: When one doesn’t gain anything from it.
AP: (Holding a mug) There was tea in this mug some time back. If the tea would have spilled from this mug, would you have called it ‘wastage’?
AP: Why would you call it a ‘wastage’? If I sip the tea from the mug, it would be emptied. And if I spill the tea, then also the mug would be emptied. So, sipping it, or spilling it, in either case the mug would be emptied. So, would do you call it a ‘wastage’ when the tea gets spilled over?
Questioner: Because it didn’t serve it’s purpose. I couldn’t use it.
AP: It didn’t serve it’s purpose. So when is time called as ‘being wasted’?
Questioner: When it doesn’t serve the purpose.
AP: When it doesn’t serve the purpose. But for that, you must know what the purpose of time is. What is the purpose of time? Before you say, “I am wasting time,” or, “He is wasting time,” you must know what is the purpose of time. Only then can you rightfully claim whether it is wasted or utilised.
So what is the purpose of time?
‘Time wastage’, ‘Don’t waste time’ – all these are very popular phrases. Aren’t they? So how do you use them then, if you do not know what is the purpose of time? How do you call something as ‘wastage of time’?
Listener 1: When you are not doing, what you are supposed to do.
AP: What are you supposed to do?
Listener 1: (Referring to the questioner) He is supposed to study usually…
AP: Why is he supposed to study only? He is also supposed to login to Facebook. What do you mean by ‘supposed to’? Which Scripture will tell you what you are ‘supposed to do’? Please tell me where one can find that Oracle. Where is that Oracle which would determine to us what we are ‘supposed’ to do? Yes.
How do you know what is the purpose of time? What is the purpose of time?
Questioner: It must give me satisfaction.
AP: If Facebook is satisfying you, you cannot call it ‘wastage of time’. Full stop.
If the purpose of time is your satisfaction, and if doing all kind of this or that, and nonsense, satisfies you, then you cannot call it as ‘wastage of time’. And I am leaning upon your own premise. You said that purpose of time is – satisfaction. If that be so, then do whatever fetches you satisfaction.
If it satisfies me to spill this tea on this table, then you would not call it as ‘wastage of tea’. Or would you? If it satisfies me to abscond from this session, it would be a great use of my time. I may be running around on the beach; a gala time on the beach.
What is the purpose of time?
Listener 3: It can be different from person-to-person. So, as a body, if one is a student, the purpose of time is to study. As a seeker, if you are seeking something, to get it to the next level is your purpose for the time being. So it is different…..
AP: With what purpose are you a student?
Listener 3: For academic qualifications, and all.
AP: Because you are ‘supposed’ to that. So that brings us back to the Oracle. So either you use common sense, or you fetch the Oracle. Otherwise, you are stuck.
Whenever I ask you that what is the purpose of this or that, you say, “This.” And when I ask you, “Why?,” you say that because you are ‘supposed’ to do this, because you are ‘supposed’ to be like this.
Now I cannot proceed with that.
Who is the one who brought all these suppositions into your mind? How do you ‘suppose’ so much, and continue to live on, based on suppositions, assumptions? Or, please bring the Oracle here, so that I may have a frank word with him, it, or her, or whatever.
How do you know that you are ‘supposed’ to be a student?
What is the purpose of time?
Of special note are those, who have been with the Courses and Camps since long. At least theoretically, one may explain this.
Listener 4: Practically, it is for Liberation. And in the course of getting that Liberation, if something is stopping you, you get rid of that, and finally reach it!
AP: So, is Facebook good or bad?
Listener 2: Depends on what we are using it for.
AP: That is the answer.
The only thing that determines whether time, or money, or any other resource available to you is wasted, or properly utilised, is whether it aided your Liberation.
Anything that contributes to your Liberation, is a thing well-utilised.
Anything that impedes your Liberation, is a thing badly wasted.
If Facebook can contribute to your Liberation, Facebook is great. But if on Facebook, you are just adding to your nonsense, to your conditioning, then obviously it is very wasteful. And the blame does not lie with Facebook, the blame lies with the use you are putting Facebook to.
Amongst you, there might be a few who might have found me on Facebook. Facebook is wonderful for them. Or, you could also access all kinds of trivia, and nonsense, and rubbish on Facebook.
You know what, social media is so addictive, so addictive, that half the volunteers of the foundation, are only watching YouTube for fourteen hours a day. Thank them for that, thank them for their addiction. Otherwise, these videos would not reach you.
Now, is YouTube good or bad?
It depends on what you are doing there. Half of the foundation, I repeat, is only watching YouTube fourteen hours a day. Is YouTube good or bad? Even as I say this, thousands are watching the videos on YouTube. Is YouTube good or bad?
Good or bad?
Depends on what you are using it for.
Depends therefore on, who you are.
Now, remaining who you are, if you de-activate your Facebook account, that would still not help you.
Addicted to Facebook, you are a slave to all the content on Facebook that you watch. And if due to pressure from some quarters, you de-activate your Facebook account, then you are still a slave; slave to the direction from where the pressure came. Facebook might have gone, has your slavery gone?
Influence came from one direction, and you opened an account. Influence came from another direction, and you closed or suspended your account.
Have ‘you’ really changed?
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Acharya Prashant is an emerging champion of socio-spiritual awakening in the world today. An alumnus of IIT-Delhi and IIM-Ahmedabad, and a former Civil Services officer, Acharya Prashant is an acclaimed Speaker, Vedanta Teacher and author of over 50 books. Apart from that he wears various hats: a veganism promoter, an environmental activist, a science activist, a campaigner against superstition, and a champion of essential human freedom. Know More