The 4Gotten generation: An open letter to India’s youth: Get off that smartphone. It can destroy you

Dear friends,

I don’t know if this letter will even reach you, despite being published in a big newspaper. Many of you are so busy with your phones, watching videos, playing video games, chatting with your friends, commenting on social media, or just scrolling through the feeds of beautiful celebrities, reading an article falls way down on the priority list.

However, if you do happen to chance on this, please read this fully. This is important and this is about your life. You are wasting your life on your phone. Yes, you are the first young generation in India’s history that has access to smartphones and cheap data, and you are spending hours on it, every day.

Check your screen time, which often averages 5-7 hours a day for young people. Retired or established people can spend so many hours on their devices. A young person, who has to build his/ her life, just can’t.

Chad Crowe

Five hours is one-third of your productive waking hours, or one-third of your life. Like cigarettes or other drugs, this phone addiction is eating away a part of your life. It’s damaging your career prospects and messing up your brain. If it stays this way, your entire generation will become a 4Gotten generation, an entire generation addicted to 4G, aimless in their life and clueless about the nation.

These are the top three negative effects of this phone addiction.

Number one, of course, is the absolute waste of time, which could be utilised on more productive things in life. Imagine saving three hours a day from your phone, and spending it on anything – fitness, learning a skill, studying more, a more intense job search, opening a business. Imagine if you did this consistently, where it would take you.

Two, watching mindless stuff dulls your cognitive brain. Our brain has two areas – cognitive and emotional. A good mind is where both work well. When you watch junk, the cognitive brain disengages and is used less. You soon lack the ability to think, reason or argue something logically. You can no longer see different points of view, process multiple scenarios, evaluate pros and cons or make the right decisions.

You function with your emotional brain alone as your cognitive brain is numb. The constant anger on social media, the polarisation, the intense fandom and intense hate for celebrities or politicians, the popularity of certain screaming TV anchors all point to a generation where the emotional brain is in control, and the reasoning mind is not engaged.

People who work only with an emotional brain don’t do well in life. The only way out – stop numbing your brain and engage your mind in more productive things.

Three, constant hours on the screen kill your motivation and energy. Success in life comes from setting goals, staying motivated and working hard towards your goals. However, watching a screen makes us lazy. Deep down, a fear of failure sets in as you’re not sure if you can put in the work anymore.

To cope, you try to find a reason why you can’t find success in life. You try to find an enemy – bad current politicians, bad past politicians, Muslims, Bollywood nepotism, rich people, famous people, any villain to be made responsible for your life not being what it could be. Yes, the system is unfair and rigged. However, wasting time venting on social media won’t help you. Working on yourself will.

Stop complaining. Start creating. Create a better life for yourself, and create a better person. Are you doing your maximum? Are you working as hard as you possibly can? Keep that wretched phone away until you make something of your life. Winners find a way out of the unfairness. You can too.

Unlike hard drugs, 4G phones are legal. Kids can keep one in their pocket. The phone is also immensely useful – for information, shopping or online classes. It can be used to grow and learn. But it can also literally destroy a young person’s life, and even an entire generation.

For it’s up to the youth to take India where they want to take it. Imagine the generation that got us Independence. How cool were they? They were out there, fighting to make India free. I still remember the Mandal Commission protests, or the 2011 Anna protests. The youth cared about national issues. Today, does the youth actually care about what truly impacts us? Or do they emotionally react to news based on how sensational, entertaining or crazy it is?

The super important, urgent priority is to make our economy grow again. China is five times richer than us. Google pictures of Chinese cities on the Internet. We have to do so much to get there. Should we focus on that? Or should we outrage over harmless ads that show an inter-religious couple? Should you focus on your career, or should you waste your time on never ending historical Hindu-Muslim issues? You want to build a good life or solve Bollywood conspiracies?

You, the youth of today, will decide the answers to these questions. No leader, no actor, no celebrity will do it for you. Take yourself and this country where you want it to go. Don’t aim to make India poor and proud. Aim to make India and yourself rich and humble. Get off that stupid phone, engage your mind in productive and creative things and make something of your life and country.