The Curse of Social Media
I stopped writing blogs because I thought no one was reading them. It started to feel more like a diary entry than a message to the world of the internet. But-
Instead of worrying who might actually read this, the important thing is that I wanted to write again because let me face it, I always have a lot to say. On that note, I want to delve into this alternate reality we seem to all be coexisting in, this space on the internet, these outlets that connect us and what it means to me. If you could care less what it means to me, I'll catch you later. If you want the summary, go to my last paragraph.
You're reading this probably wondering: the curse, though? Why the curse? Doesn't social media give us all the ability to stay in touch with family, friends, colleagues and make new connections? The mere fact that we can connect instantaneously with distanced folks of all walks of life should be a good enough reason to love social media, right? What about the awesome products, services and marketing tools that have become available to just about anyone, anywhere... that is definitely not a curse, I must be pessimistic. Not necessarily, I'm just providing the truth behind the excuses everyone uses for why they slave to the social apps.
Let me start with my reasons for using social media. I told myself, I will only use Instagram for "social" purposes. I told myself, I'm a photographer and Instagram is based on photos you can share so it would make sense to use such a platform. But if I'm being honest, most days I use it for other purposes. In fact, I use it mostly to watch news that isn't mainstream, sometimes promote my photography and yes, express my opinions to my following (which by the way is very small). Any of the aforementioned purposes come in handy as well... keeping in touch, connecting with like minded individuals, buying products, selling services and being nosy about what everyone else is doing. I can admit it.
You're at the point now where you're asking me, so what is the big curse? Well, personally, I permanently deleted my Facebook about 5 years ago. The day after the 2020 election, I deleted my Twitter account. I don't use Snapchat, Reddit, TikTok, Gab, Telegram or any other platform to share content. I watch YouTube for free workout videos and stand up comedy. That's my choice and I am not bothered by those who use these platforms. But ask yourself, how many are you scrolling on everyday? How many of their apps are in your phone, tracking your every move? How many hours do you spend collectively, aimlessly wandering the internet? Better yet, how much time are you spending on promoting yourself, making videos of yourself and trying to put out content that makes you look better, more popular, brings in sales/money or gets you attention to make yourself feel good? More importantly, how much of what you're consuming is making you feel inadequate, insecure, sad or mad? Are you truly gaining or are you losing? And when I say losing I mean, losing time, losing your mind, losing friends, losing respect or losing credibility.
Originally I deleted Facebook because it became a gauntlet for people from my past to easily pop into my message box and disturb my peace. Ex boyfriends, family members I don't interact with and ads for services or products I was never looking for in the first place. It has been a peaceful 5 years. I cannot tell you how many birthdays I've missed or how many times I have NOT been invited somewhere because of a missed "Facebook invite" but I can tell you that none of the ghosts from Christmas past, present or future have haunted me since.
Twitter was my favorite platform to use. I loved the commentary, the GIFS, the opinions and videos and I loved that most of my interactions were happening with strangers... what I did NOT appreciate was the censorship, acceptance of child abuse material, or encouragement of public service disrespect. As the campaign wore on and the censorship kicked into high gear, I watched several of my favorite accounts get zapped. Obviously, I believe in free speech, American values and the good old Constitution so instead of going along with it and saying, "that's too bad but I love Twitter" I took an actual stance and said, I will not contribute to the success of a platform that diminishes my birth rights, promotes child abuse, police brutality or death threats to my nation's leader. Argue all day with me on this one, I'm ready for you.
Of course, Facebook took the censorship stance too and now here we are, Instagram (owned by FB) is blocking, shadow banning and deleting posts and accounts of those who tout opinions that go against the mainstream narratives. I haven't walked away from it because I am slightly hooked on it. I use it to find like minded individuals who are, on their best days, trying to tell the world to wake up from the lies we've been told for the last 100 years and beyond. It's true some days I use it to promote my business or to personally share my life with people. But I would be lying if I said there were never days I felt defeated, disgusted and ready to pull the plug. Genuine human conversation feels like a distant memory. And thus, the curse is unfolding.
What astounds me most is when people will ask to connect with me and I tell them they cannot reach me on Facebook. Immediately the defensive tactics begin! Can I just preface my next statements with: I never asked you why you need it, want it or continue to use it. People just offer these statements to me. It is as though they are arguing with themselves externally why they spend so much time on it, why they support such a demon like Zuckerberg or the reasoning why they "still" use it. Like I said, I don't really mind and I never really asked. I simply stated I don't use it so you'll have to call me on the phone the old fashioned way. Yet, it never fails: "Oh I only use it for x,y,z" or "I am barely on it I just want to keep it because of the marketplace, the connection to my distant family/old friends" or "My work has a group or I use it for my business" but my favorite is this response, "You cannot have a business without a Facebook page." Insert laugh out loud Gif here. I am living proof that you can. In fact, I run TWO.
In conclusion, yes, I think it has become a curse. It is eliminating face to face interactions. It makes us insecure until we get enough likes, follows, comments or shares to feel secure. It replaces handwritten birthday cards and real invitations by mail. It has given those who we do not speak to anymore an outlet to communicate with us when we would otherwise never speak to them again. It has warped our opinion of society and completely replaced actual research. It allows bullies to hide behind computer screens and criticize others without warrant or discussion. It has become a way for advertisement companies to track us on all levels and spew convincing content at us so we irresponsibly spend our money. It's causing fights, division, bullying, foul language and disrespect to nations, races, religions, sports, parenting, medical decisions, politics, relationships and lifestyle choices. Before social media, we had to face each other, endure real consequences for our actions, research written information to find answers and organically grow our businesses. We read books and had intellectual conversations without checking our feeds every 5 minutes or taking photos of every meal or a boomerang every time we cheers to life. It's become so surface level superficial, competitive and fake. We aren't seeing the hard days, the low moments or hard stuff and it happens to all of us. The point of this post, entry, blog--whatever you want to call it, is not to berate you for using social media. It is simply to discuss the possibilities of what life can be like if we use it sparingly. We're all victims to the matrix, even me. But it is tiring and never-ending and seemingly getting worse as the years pass. Try to go one day without your phone. You might enjoy it.
There are several upsides to social media that we can all appreciate. However, I feel it is important to understand the influence that these apps and networks have within our lives and remember we are all having a human experience so it is imperative we do not lose our interpersonal communication in this ever growing technological world.
Feel free to leave a comment, I'd love to hear your feedback. Congratulations on reading an entire blog... there is still hope for those of us with more than a 3 second attention span. Much love to you.