Today I want to talk about 4 social media myths- "friends/followers", "likes", 'community" and "safe". Over the past several months I systematically purged social media from my life after over a decade of committed use! Goodbye facebook, instagram and twitter.
Today's disclaimer: As a registered Independent and libertarian leaning citizen I fully support social media platforms as private companies can do what they wish within the rule of law. But I can dump them! If you don't like anything I write or say here and cannot comment or add to the discussion with your perspective as an adult feel free to unfollow, leave and go. So let's jump right in-
Myth #1- FRIENDS AND FOLLOWERS
Social media firms thrive on myths! This may be the largest one... the myth that we have real friends on social media. Certainly your actual real world friends may also be your friends on social media... but for me the great majority of my friends list were not anything close to "friends" while some were straight up bots or trolls. Upon close review of my friends list on Facebook I found a number of duplicate accounts. These are almost unrecognizable from the true accounts and feed to who I will never know!
Underlying this myth is the feeling that we are loved, popular and relevant on a larger scale than our daily real world life provides... all based on the number of friends and followers we amass on these platforms. Or that we have an actual close relationship with these so called "friends"? Conservatively speaking the average person has twice as many friends online as they do in real life.
Think about this... if something tragic happened in your life... how many on your social media friends list would come visit, call, bring you food or do anything real world? Or even know (if the event was not posted)? We all behave totally different with our "online friends" than we ever do in person too! We easily jump into divisive positions with people who in real life we would be most pleasant around! Trolls and social media algorithms promote this behavior... it is the fuel of "clicks" and we all suffer. While they make $$$.
Before I departed social media I cranked up this website and alerted all my "friends" prior to my exodus... I had over 1,500 facebook "friends", around 1,000 IG followers along with around 300 Twitter followers. Before leaving social media I made sure all of these "friends" had the link to my new website (multiple posts, story posts, etc over about a 3 week period). Take a guess how many actually subscribed/joined this new format..... 37. In total I did receive about 90 unique visits and email addresses in this transition period... but actual subscribers was 37. So let's say my total social media friends number was around 1,500 (since there is overlap between platforms where friends followed me on several places)... this means around 2.4% of those "friends" were really following me!
I could go on and on... but let me drill right down to the real danger of this mythical friend base! Making friends on social media is tantamount to eating cotton candy! It tastes amazing and melts in your mouth... but it robs you of real nutrients by falsely providing momentary satiety and displacing your intake of more nutritious foods. In other words chasing friends and followers online INSTEAD of growing real world relationships is a hugely detrimental diversion! Also too often online drama negatively impacts our real world relationships. Things are taken out of context and assumptions are made. A posted picture of a loving couple may in reality be a terrible real world relationship... social media tends to be superficial, shallow and cheap....And anything but REAL.
Myth #2 LIKES
"Likes" are the crack cocaine of social media.... the dopamine trigger! Again for the most part these are cheap and superficial. They trigger the dopamine release in the brain and make us constantly come back to the platform to see who has seen our post... who has liked our picture or who agrees with our rhetoric. We also get this feeling we have an actual platform and are making an actual real world difference! Just look at all the virtue signaling we have seen online in 2020!
Again this is not real! And that is the danger it brings... causing us to believe we are liked or not liked and are making an actual difference with our idiotic rhetoric, virtue signaling etc. Along with this it creates a false measure of what "happy" or "success" looks like... we see the perfect people, the perfect looks, life, toys, travel destinations and then look around at our "real" lives and can't help but feel shorted! A total sabotage to what the average American should feel- GRATITUDE. If we don't get likes or can't come close to how that "influencer" is living... we cannot be grateful.
Remember even the most flea bag dump of a motel looks glamorous online!
In the real world... giving and receiving real likes and having real experiences gratitude comes easily! But replace this with an artificial online pursuit of the same thing and you create a recipe for depression, entitlement, contentment and false feelings all around.
And recognize this... these social media platforms have algorithms to make sure what you "like" is fed to you and vice versa with your posts. It's a complete, absolute set-up! Cue the dopamine! Keep em hooked!
In the real world doing something virtuous is actually virtuous! Ever notice how the virtue signals online would in reality be totally idiotic in your daily life?! Would you walk up to an actual person on the street and virtue signal??? Of course not... if you did that person would certainly make moves to get away from you quickly! Similarly would the poses and duck lips made for a viral social media post have the same effect should you cast them towards a stranger in a coffee shop? Again most people would make quick moves to avert your attention!
Again I could go on and on... But lets drill down to the real danger here- Likes are not real! Wasting your precious time and effort on them robs you of potential real world accomplishments. While comparing yourself to others instead of looking for things to be grateful for poisons your mind and ultimately your body. Joining the virtue signaling or political bandwagon on social media makes your FEEL included and satisfies the important human need to help others and be a member of the tribe.... but in reality is robbing you from doing this in the real world in a real way. Again don't eat the cotton candy!
Myth #3 Community
Facebook loves to use this word. Why? Because it makes you feel a sense of belonging. Again a natural human need. But as we know this in actuality is not a real community and moreover separates and distracts us from our real world communities.
The concept of an online community is almost preposterous. I won't even commit much of this essay to it... try to find anything real about an online community... at least in the general sense of an overall online platform. Sure there are special interest groups... and these do have basis in reality often times... but for this discussion I make a distinction between "groups" or "pages" and community.
In short saying you are a member of the online community is an even bigger falsehood than saying you have X number of online friends.
To add insult to injury these platforms then set "community guidelines". All arbitrary and with no input from you the typical user. This should serve as an immediate notification to you... this is no real community. Imagine what these "community guidelines" would look like in a real community?
Let's say your town mayor decrees all packages of meat in your community grocery stores should be covered with black blankets in the store display cooler because the site of them may be "sensitive content" to some shoppers... but then holds a city wide ass twerking competition at the town square! Sound idiotic??? Welcome to the insanity we call the "online community" .
To adhere to arbitrary 'community guidelines" actual words and/or phrases in the english language are banned and censored. Again I go back to my disclaimer... these platforms as private companies can do this... thankfully I can also dump them!
I could go on and on... but let's drill down to the real danger here. Online communities are the opposite of real communities. And again they detract from our ability to join, participate in or grow REAL communities. Its an unfortunate distraction for humanity as a whole and purely used to leverage $$$. The algorithm is not to promote community and human solidarity... quite the opposite... its to create division, tribalism and distinct subcategories... each then easily labeled for manipulation within a binary algorithm system for exploitation to platform marketing customers.... big companies paying for clicks and vying for impressions within their market niche. Those pop up ads and banners are not random. Welcome to the online community... where standards are arbitrary and everyone is exploited for $. Where is the community in that?
Myth #4 Safe
Do you see a theme developing here? It's like some sort of science fiction world we would call "opposite land". Social media while touting their platforms as "safe" are the opposite! Again this is not only not real but dangerous.
Social media has created entire new genres of crime while facilitating good old fashioned crime. As any new technology is apt to do... one study found a strong correlation to the increasing use of social media in Britain and a concomitant rise in violent knife crimes among gangs. Social media foments crime and extremism...
Serial killers, child molesters, burglars heck literally all forms of criminals have used social media to carry out their heinous acts more effectively and efficiently than ever. Stories abound of abductions of otherwise safe individuals only because the perp could find them on social media and become completely obsessed with them.
Again to add insult to injury these platforms have put forth SAFE options for users. A large natural disaster hits your community? Up pops an option for you to mark yourself "safe" during the event. So helpful so that the 98% of people on your so called friends list... who could give less than a damn... can know your are safe from the riots, tornado or blizzard.
I predict very soon.... there will an option to mark yourself "recovered from Covid 19". I won't even go into the dangers this could potentially bring to our privacy and freedoms.
So allow me to drop this in real terms for you. Do you want to know the best way to mark yourself SAFE on social media? PERMANENTLY DELETE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA!
So these are 4 myths of social media. How have these affected you? What are some others I have missed? For me social media kept pushing against the boundaries of my personal values... my values as an person, a dad, a citizen, a human being. I had to make a personal declaration. I stood up and said NO MORE. I am so grateful for that decision.
Today's vlog can be found here- https://youtu.be/Hpzbb-Q2fuA