I really have a love/hate relationship with social media, mostly hate.
I love that I am able to “follow” smart informative people and stumble upon great reads and leads. But…that’s about it.
I don’t like being tagged in photos. I don’t like that life happens there. I don’t like that I’m expected to share my private life updates there. I don’t like people assuming that I saw something they posted and then act offended that I don’t acknowledge whatever it is they posted the next time I hear from them in real life (instead of just telling me then). I don’t like that EVERYBODY has an opinion. I don’t like seeing people display their personal problems. I don’t like the false reward of “likes” and “shares.” I don’t like feeling like a failure if something I post doesn’t get liked or shared as much as something else. I don’t like that because I “like” the Atlanta Hawks on Facebook that the algorithms assume that I only want sports in my timeline. Hell, I don’t even like promoting shit that I’m involved in half the time. Feels like I’m spamming people…and I KNOW I’m pretty moderate with mine.
I hate that how many times an article gets liked or shared is now used as a gauge as to if what you wrote is “good.” Don’t get me wrong, it is a solid way to measure. But, if an article gets retweeted 3,500 times but only two people bothered commenting on it and tried to engage the author or spark a dialogue…does it really mean anything? I hate that being on social media is a part of a job description or brand identity now. I accept that it is a part of our lives…but yeah.
I hate feeling like I HAVE to say something about every little blip on the media and pop culture radar. Why do we HAVE to say something. Especially about things that don’t even affect us. Social Media has a way of turning every itch into a full-blown virus.
But yeah, watching this Raury video for “PSA” where he and a team of smartphone smashing vigilantes go around stealing people’s phones (check out the ninja move at the 2:09 mark) struck a nerve because that’s where I’m at right now. I’ve just started on a social media fast, I’m two weeks in. I haven’t been on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook for a couple of weeks now. I’d like to stay off all of them for a very long time. I wish I could just go on there maybe once a day or something…you know, diet or ration it out. But I really don’t care to be on there at all right now. All of it seems like an echo chamber of everyone preaching to the choir. I go out of my way to try and find new things to learn and enjoy but it gets difficult via those channels. Most of what I see is what I already know, some times it just sounds better from other people or is painted prettier by a better artist. What’s crazier is, you get penalized if you deactivate anything. You are threatened that you will never be able to come back, your name can never be used again and you will have to “start over.” Sounds like you’re getting banned from baseball or a fraternity.
I started scaling back on it a month or two ago though. The last two weeks have just been cold turkey. In that time I got introduced to a television series currently available on Netflix (or Youtube if you’re a pirate) called Black Mirror.
Black Mirror (the title comes from the idea that TV, computer, tablet and smartphone screens are…”black mirrors”) is a London-based “Twilight Zone” type show where they focus on the darkside of technology and the impact it has on human nature…and vice versa. Watching this, I feel like I’ve seen the future of everything from the private prison system to streaming video…and it doesn’t look good. I’ve been binge watching the episodes and watching them again when company is over. I’ve noticed myself telling the story of every episode to everyone I’ve talked to about it, spoiling the plot in the process. But, the show played a part in me leaning away from social media and the internet in general and asking myself a question…
What do I gain from being on it…what do I lose from not being on it?
The answer I came up with was: not much.
Yeah, I can do easy things like find a book half-priced and have it sent to my house instead of paying full-price at the book store. But outside of that, it feels like all I get to do is have people invade my mind with selfies and opinions on things that I don’t even care about. Yeah, to whoever is reading this may feel that I am a part of the latter matrix…it is true.
Which reminds me of another story I stumbled upon recently. The story of Paul Miller.
Miller was a tech writer for The Verge. In 2012 he decided to take a year away from the internet. That meant, no web browsing, no email, no Skype, no social media. He even went as far as to not text anyone. On the surface his story looks and sounds profound, but as he will readily admit, it is not.
His year away from the internet didn’t make him smarter, more personable or “better.” He did however become more self-aware and learned that the internet wasn’t having a negative effect on his life. It was how HE was using the internet that was having the negative effect on his life. Seeing his story is part of the reason why I came back so fast from my “walk” that I posted last week.
But yeah. As you can see, I’m over here trying to figure some shit out right now. That’s life. See ya’ll outside.