Until a few years ago, I was one of those hipsters who judged everyone photographing their morning coffee while it got cold and using apps to do everything. Then I moved to London to study, and suddenly it was not polite to ask random strangers for directions and the guy taking my food order on the phone did not understand my accent. At University, they were promoting apps to barter skills and find the closest condom dispenser! So I decided to embrace all the apps and the social media and everything else the Internet had to offer.
When I started the #100HappyDays challenge on Instagram, I did not realize it would change my life. The first few days were easy. But soon, if I hadn’t done anything that made me happy by 4pm, my mind would start racing.
Who knew that it would take an Instagram challenge to convert me from a grumpy person to one who makes sure I find at least one thing to make me happy every day. I’m not officially doing #100HappyDays anymore, but I will often go and look at the little things that are making the world happy at https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/100happydays/
Since then, I’m a fan of these Internet challenges. Another favourite is the #100SareePact (https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/100sareepact/) that is encouraging young women to make the saree a part of their daily wardrobe!
My favourite way to discover young, unpublished poets is #NaMoWriMo! You can find some spectacular talent at https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/napowrimo/ if like me, you’re a lover of poetry.
Speaking of poetry and the internet, my favourite contemporary poet, Tyler Knott Gregson (https://www.instagram.com/tylerknott)has a daily (!) Haiku series and he also writes a Typewriter Series poem every day. This is art meets discipline meets Instagram at its best!
And finally, the challenge closest to me is the one I’m currently doing. The Read Harder challenge by Book Riot lists a series of tasks that readers all over the world undertake through the course of a year to enable us to not just read more, but read more widely and push the envelope with the kind of things we read. More at http://bookriot.com/2016/12/15/book-riots-2017-read-harder-challenge/ or #ReadHarder2017.
The challenges I’ve undertaken or even just followed as an audience have changed my life. They’ve taught me gratitude and discipline. I’ve found communities of people who love the things I love that I would never have found IRL. I’ve found people I admire. I’ve found art that inspires me. I’ve made friends and formed virtual book clubs. Mainstream media is full of information about the terrible side of the Internet taking over our lives. Black Mirror still gives me nightmares. But I assure you, there are cool things out there, waiting to be found and waiting for you to be a part of them!