Introducing Browsers Anonymous

I was inspired by the recent Chinese initiative to crack down on children who browse all day on social  media. So I put on my investigative journalist’s hat and met with Joanna (obviously an alias), who has since become a life raft in a sea of despair.

This is her story.

Hello, my name is Joanna and I am a recovering browser. I am one of the fortunate browsers who can lift their heads today to tell their story. So thank you, Browsers Anonymous.

I started  browsing at an early age  and was very popular with the school crowd as “the girl who knew a lot that was going down”. But what started out as a way to get noticed ended in my becoming invisible to those around me.

My browsing continued through primary school and into high school. Once in high school, I stopped hiding the fact I was browsing. You were considered a freak if you weren’t browsing.

At that time, my browsing was fairly well under control; or so I thought. I was young, I had the stamina to browse all day and still attend class. There were new social media platforms that were amazing and once, I spent 27 hours nonstop on a new app called TikTok.

Of course, lots of kids were doing the same as me. But there was this one kid I remember, who used to have lunch alone. And he used to read a book. Ha! What a psycho. There we were looking at really funny stuff like at the one guy who scared cats with a cucumber, and little Dudley Do Right was reading a book, alone. It wasn’t even a kindle. What a loser.

I remember in class, the teacher was asking us what we want to be. Most of the answers were pretty awesome, like “I wanna be a YouTuber” or “Get 5 million likes on TikTok”. Ol’ Dudley says “I’d like to be a doctor”.

Anyhoo, when I failed my finals and I was sitting on my bed watching Khaby Lam on TikTok diss some or other lame video. My dad walks in and asks me to hand over my phone. I asked him if his mom ever told him it was rude not to knock, but he just grabbed my phone out of my hands. Sort of simultaneously I’d swiped TikTok off my screen so he couldn’t see what I was looking at. But now there was this big fat notification sitting there on my screen that said: ‘The time you’ve spent on your phone has increased 11%. Last week, you spent a total  of 13.7 hours per day on your phone.’ My dad looked at me and said: “I think it’s time for Browsers Anonymous”.

And the rest, enforced phoneless camping trip included, is history.

So that’s my story and I’m proud to say that today was a good day.

The last time I browsed was a full twenty minutes ago.

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