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OPINION: Social Media, and How We Use It, is a Real Problem
First the setup. I beg your indulgence as I lay the groundwork. Maybe a snack will help.
Secondly, note the byline. I'm not sure where Steven lines up on social media usage. This is strictly the opinion of Courtney, not necessarily Steven Crowder or his affiliations. Okay? Okay.
About five years ago I started a full time office job in a fast-growing corporation. After staring at a glowing screen for eight hours, I didn't want to stare at another in my off time. Weeks into the new job, I realized I wasn't checking my Facebook account. Not only did I not miss Facebook, I was happier without it.
Gone were the days of red notifications of "So and so liked your photo." Gone were the tedious updates from mommies waging diaper wars. Gone were the LOOK AT MY NEW SELFIE photos. Gone was the constant virtue signaling tripe, a term which hadn't yet been coined, about how much people cared about [People suffering this thing] or [All these people they were thinking about on this holiday].
It was just gone. Because I'd weeded it out, albeit unintentionally.
When I went out to meet people, I met with them. The phone wasn't propped up to alert me to a stupid notification. If people wanted to invite me to an event, they sent me a text. I didn't have to see or "like" the constant dribble of everyday life people thought was worthy of sharing to the 250+ "Friends" on the social network.
Eventually I had to rejoin, but did so half-heartedly. Not for FOMO (a new term which has risen thanks to social media meaning "fear of missing out") but to better coordinate and meet-up with people I'd met in the real world. I immediately "unfollowed" my "friends" so as not to get notified of every action taken on the network.
This is all the long lead up to say social media sucks. Facebook especially, but Twitter too. Which I understand is ironic, based on how you likely found this article: through Facebook or Twitter. It's not lost on me.
Three years ago had I said "social media sucks" I would've been told to stuff it. But the tide against social media is shifting, and it's not just because of Facebook data-mining issues. Millennials are increasingly erasing social media apps from their phones. Studies are coming to light pointing to the correlation between the rise of the smart phone and social media, with depression and raised anxiety.
Here, let Paul Joseph Watson tell you with a video, from another social network, YouTube:
No matter where you line up with Paul on other issues, I think he's right about this one.
If you wanted to connect with someone in the pre-social media days, the action was deliberate. In college I used my phone to call friends to say "I'm out of class, let's go play pool? See you there in five?" And it was done. We met to play pool. Then we'd make plans from there.
It all happened without Facebook. And it was better.
Social media is just a tool. Yes, as the video above points out, the creators of social media are tapping into what drives us, but advertisers and marketing departments have been doing the same for decades. So why is social media making us increasingly unhappy?
Pardon the clear misanthropy, but it's people. Before social media, when you were done with the people at work or your school, you went home. You didn't see the people from work or school. You didn't get all their latest drama updates on "Oh my gosh I can't even with this thing at work I desperately want you to ask me about to feel validated" garbage. And before social media, you never saw a flood of stupid, rude, and creepy trolls flooding your internet.
You essentially used your home, your car, the cafe, wherever you were, to be with the people who mattered to you in the moment. Or to just be alone. To disconnect.
But social media disrupted all that. Social media promised to "connect" us. Who's against personal connection? Except in the long course of human history, we've always had time to get away from each other. Just as important as connecting is disconnecting. We don't need to hear ever errant thought which pops into each other's minds. We don't need the ALL CAPS RAGE.
The internet allows us the free exchange of some great ideas, human history and innovation at our finger tips. But first, here's a duck-face selfie with my food. #DatPastaTho
Furthermore, the anonymity of digital spaces unleashes the worst in people. "Trolls" is a word we typically use for such imps. They say things in comment sections they wouldn't dare say in person. People on Twitter especially, hide behind anonymous avatars to spew depravity any chance they get.
Social media is, at its core, a massive group of people, most of whom I do not know. If I wouldn't invite these people into my home, in real life, why am I allowing them into my home digitally?
For work, is my short answer. But I do not check Twitter or Facebook over the weekend. I do not scroll through timelines when I'm walking my dogs, when I'm out with friends or family, when I'm outside at all. When I'm not working, social media is off.
Human beings are meant to interact with each other, and the real world, in real ways. Social media's dominance of the last ten years runs counter to our humanity. It's been such a fast shift, we're just now seeing the many disastrous effects of its control in our lives. Some people spend more time on social media, in the digital world, than they do in the real world. They're likely depressed because of it.
So what to do? Especially when information is quickly spread via social media. I agree with Paul Joseph Watson here: make checking social media deliberate, don't get caught in the loop. Personally, I turned off the email notification button on my phone years ago. In fact most of my notifications on my phone are turned off.
Social media used to be great for delivering content you liked. But as we've seen recently, that's also shifted. Louder with Crowder has a fast growing email list, we offer push notifications, and you can still bookmark this website to check on the latest. Our articles are usually short (this one is a tome, my God I need to stop), and can be read in minutes.
I don't want to sound like a luddite, calling for the roll back of technology. I love the internet. But how we use this social media can be changed for the better. We're human beings meant for a real world. I know I've said that already. Bears repeating. So let's avoid that which drives us mad, and use social media for what it can still be good for: forging real connections for a real world.
~ Written by Courtney Kirchoff. Yes, ironically linked to Twitter, if you so choose to follow.