I picked up my phone as the sound of a notification drew me back in to the world of social media. Sucked in by an endless stream of ‘insta-worthy’ pics and trending IGTV videos, I found myself stuck in this pixelated world. From outfit inspirations and skincare routines, to motivational speeches and prank videos, I could scroll for hours on end, double clicking on every other post.

4 years ago, when I got my first phone, I couldn’t wait to download WhatsApp, Instagram and Snapchat! At first, it was just a fun way to connect with my peers and family, but as my Instagram followers increased, and the likes rolled in,  my recreation turned into an obsession.

My life had always revolved around books. I used to be buried in books for the greater part of the day, sometimes oblivious to the passage of time. Every booklover knows the excitement of opening one up and being entranced by the setting, the characters and the plot. Like most children, I started off with Enid Blyton’s books, which not only whisked me away into different worlds of fantasy and adventure, but also augmented my imagination. Growing up, I moved on to reading many other books, and they all directly or indirectly, played a role in shaping my thoughts, opinions and views of the world. If I have to pick one book that captured my heart and mind, and influenced my ability to think and feel, it would be Harper Lee’s timeless classic, “To Kill a Mockingbird”.  I was 12 years old when I read this book, and my mind opened up to new emotions and social issues that I was more or less unaware of at that age.

“To Kill a Mockingbird” is the story of Scout, a young girl from Alabama, and her coming of age, who in the course of three years, develops from an unconventional, tomboyish little child into an optimistic, empathetic and intelligent young girl, as life exposes her to societal evils like social injustice, racial discrimination and hypocrisy. Scout, and her brother Fem, were raised in a rather free-spirited manner by their father Atticus Finch, a lawyer by profession and a man with unwavering moral values.

Through this book, Author Harper Lee has very beautifully touched upon bold topics like intolerance, racism and prejudices in societies, leaving us with many thoughts to reflect upon. “To Kill a Mockingbird” taught me to treat every human being with dignity, to nurture love for all and accept people just the way they are. This and many other books influenced my young mind, developed my intellect and compelled me to think, question and reflect. Yet, I seem to be drifting away from them…

At times I feel frustrated that my days just fly past in a technological blur, with hardly any time left to experience the real world. From a person who could never put down a book, to now not being able to put down my phone, social media has completely changed my lifestyle. Deep inside I know that there is nothing more satisfying than finishing a book, and no social media can match that. I know that I still love reading books, and so, moving forward, I challenge myself to put down my phone, and pick up a book, not giving in to the incessant notification sounds that try to lure me back in. As said by Stephen King, “Books are the perfect entertainment: no commercials, no batteries, hours of enjoyment for each dollar spent. What I wonder is why everybody doesn’t carry a book around for those inevitable dead spots in life.” I hope you can join me in this challenge.

Written by Isha Reddy

Isha is a 16-year-old student from Dubai. She enjoys reading writing and photography. Isha writes for her school and has also recently published her own book titled ‘The Fire Within Iceland: Steaming Up A Sustainable Nation’, available on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/dp/1727088611