By Midas Leung
To say that I was not an iPad kid growing up would be a lie. The first time I was ever handed an electronic device was my parents’ iPhone 4. My brother and I pestered our parents to buy “Minecraft Pocket Edition” because our old Dell computer couldn’t handle the processing strain. My brother and I would always fight over our mother’s phone (we didn’t bother our father; he hated the idea of giving us electronic devices), trying to rob it every chance we could get. When successful, we would bust down the bathroom door to play Minecraft. I don’t know if that is on par with the Gen-alpha brain-rot in Skibidi Toilet, but it has to be close. I got my first phone and iPad in middle school. By then the only social media I had made was Facebook, YouTube, and some weird Minecraft Instagram rip-off. The most technological brain-rot that I had received during middle school was probably the age of MLG montages.
I would not get into Instagram and Snapchat until high school—back when I still had an attention span and could still focus in class. (Right now, I write this while sitting in the back of my Electromagnetic theory class.) On the whole, high school was more interesting for me: I was doing better than I was in middle school, at least until COVID (a.k.a. CHINA VIRUS) came and kicked my ass. The first couple weeks in quarantine were amazing: laying back, watching YouTube while the Department of Education scrambled to get their classes online. The freedom was nice until I realized I wasn’t free and I was stuck in a cramped studio apartment with my family who make a bigger mess because they don’t touch the grass.
This is where my attention span decreased exponentially and my social skills were shot. Shortly after high school, I was admitted to college late and had to wait until spring to get into this college because I didn’t want to check my email blah blah blah…
With all my friends in college and nothing to do while stuck at home, I found myself completely absorbed in online brain-rot. Day by day, I could feel myself losing strength—feeling weaker and more lethargic. Some days I found myself stuck in bed only moving a few times for food and the bathroom. I didn’t get what the middle school’s “role models” meant by “rock bottom” until I experienced it. One day I thought to myself “What the absolute fuck am I doing?! I am the son of two immigrant parents who have sacrificed almost everything for me.”
I knew then that I had to crawl back from rock bottom. I first attempted to get my energy back by forcing myself to get out of bed and go on runs. They started short but gradually increased. Thereafter, I started searching for jobs which I found through family and friends. I found two: one in a sweatshop and the other as a dishwasher. You can find my full reflection in a previous article, but in short: both gave me something to do during the day and night and gave me opportunities to explore what I wanted my life to be.
Once I made it to college I found myself relieved; I had started the road to what my parents would call me in 4 years,
still a failure a college graduate. My mom cried when I last hugged her, but I didn’t really cry. After the years of COVID, I really like the life away from them. The freedom was blissful for a few days… Then I found myself again with no friends and now nothing to do. I again fell into the abyss of the internet—the worst one for me was my addiction to YouTube shorts, the internet equivalent to stimulants. You might be wondering why I never downloaded TikTok it’s because I….AIN’T….GIVING….SHIT….TO…CHINA.
Once I made some friends I found life to be back on track again but now that I could more easily indulge in my freedom to social media I grew deeper into it and now I check up daily with my friends. Again I am in the spiral of shortening attention span and loss of energy. My decline is very apparent just look at my calculus grades.
All I can say is that I am not stuck in the spiral. I chose to stay in it because I can leave anytime, right?