Social media and drowning mental health
It’s time to rethink, reshape and resurrect.
Being a Gen Z millennial, I got to experience life with and without social medial, which I believe as a blessing. My marvelous childhood was livened up by grandmother’s stories, bicycle excursions, having many pets and many more are now vivid memories. Heart is always replete with joy when I recall them. However, I had to surrender to the trap of growing old.
Social media is a flashy thing which has captured most of us. I never knew how disastrous it could be until I loose my conscious mind and solid attention span to it. As a regular user of Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, I was enthralled by likes, comments and the fake social security artificially made up to keep users in the loop. Unfortunately, I was a slave to instant gratification.
There are only two businesses which call their consumers as ‘users’. Drugs and social media. And there is only a thin difference between these two. Both drugs and social media stimulate the same area of the brain to give short term pleasure. But on the contrary, the proximity of this simulation is greater when using social media.
We are socially nudged to be a part the social media and it seems to be hard to live a normal life without it. For an example, many informative forums runs on Facebook while job hunting is made easy via LinkedIn. Instagram has enabled users to have engaging portfolios. It’s frank and apparent that a part of life gets exuberant with social media.
But wait a second. Do you really pay to use social media? I mean not to access premium features, but to use the general and common ones. The answer is simply a “No” which means, you are simply the product which is being sold on social media as you do not have to pay for it. But how?
Have you ever wondered how a product or a service you searched on Google suddenly appears on Facebook or in YouTube Ads? It is because of the trackers. These trackers keep you under their surveillance, extract information related to your internet usage and sell it to different Ad companies. So that they can show repetitive Ad contents to you on social media to attract towards their products and services. All the social media does the same as well. They all mine and sell our data including personal data.
Plus social media algorithms are ever evolving and learning. They are trained to show users only what users prefer. For an example, if you watch cooking videos, social media algorithm will fill show you more cooking videos. And it’ll suggest you more and more related contents. This is a quicksand because you’ll be trapped in a loop where you see only what you like to see. And it’ll satisfy you devilishly to keep you trapped. You’ll be inadvertently biased towards a fact. As a matter of fact, social media is not only addictive but also manipulative.
This whole drama had been unraveled in “Social Dilemma” documentary by Netflix.
In addition, Jaron Lanier, the founder of Virtual Reality has elaborated why an individual should not use social media at all in his books and speeches.
He has further written below points in his “Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now” book.
Argument #1: YOU ARE LOOSING YOUR FREE WILL.
Argument #2: QUITTING SOCIAL MEDIA IS THE MOST FINELY TARGETED WAY TO RESIST THE INSANITY OF OUR TIMES.
Argument #3: SOCIAL MEDIA IS MAKING YOU INTO AN A##HOLE.
Argument #4: SOCIAL MEDIA IS UNDERMINING TRUTH.
Argument #5: SOCIAL MEDIA IS MAKING WHAT YOU SAY MEANINGLESS.
Argument #6: SOCIAL MEDIA IS DESTROYING YOUR CAPACITY TO EMPATHY.
Argument #7: SOCIAL MEDIA IS MAKING YOU UNHAPPY.
Argument #8: SOCIAL MEDIA DOESN’T WANT YOU TO HAVE ECONOMIC DIGNITY.
Argument #9: SOCIAL MEDIA IS MAKING POLITICS IMPOSSIBLE.
Argument #10: SOCIAL MEDIA HATES YOUR SOUL.
“Knowledge with action converts adversity into prosperity.”
A.P.J. Abdul Kalam
After being totally aware of these pitfalls, I vouched myself to use social media differently. Seeing a dim light in the dark, I realized that life without social media is wonderful and worthwhile. I literally had to omit some channels 100% and limit the rest deliberately.
Acting out my quest towards serendipity, I
- Deactivated Instagram profile.
- Deleted Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn Apps from my phone.
- Installed Self Control extension to Google Chrome and blocked Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn there.
- Downloaded Digital Wellbeing Android App and set 1hr timers for WhatsApp and YouTube.
- Disabled all the notifications except banking Apps, Calls, Emails and SMS.
I felt boring and alone as hell in first 7 days. Nevertheless, I spent more time with my family. Parents gave me tips on cooking and house holding which turned out to be prolific. The unconditional love of parents is an elixir to life.
I and my family made it to Galle, Southern province Sri Lanka for a picnic in a weekend after I quit social media. It was such a breathtaking view near beaches and I was badly tempted to take selfies to share on Instagram but I hardly resisted. After many years, I had started to enjoy small things in life. I captured some moments using my DSLR to add to my collection.
Life without social media is not so comfortable in the beginning. But it’s high yielding. The serenity I’m feeling in my mind is precious. I purchased a new self help book and a book on project management to read also. I realized I can focus more and mind is still. The proud of not following the crowd was always a self appraisal.
Anyway, I don’t sweep out myself away from social media 100%. Having some online presence is vital in this era. Even the recruiters look for the social media profiles of the candidates. But I’ll be 99.95% away from it. We always have the key to decide the way we can use these medias as a tool for success.
So don’t mad at me if you see me online and sharing stuff but not reacting to your photos 😎😉.
Because the ones who reached me when I was offline proved me who should be prioritized in life.
~Live your life in your own way~