What are your feelings on social media? Do you love it? Hate it? Maybe, like me, you have a love-hate relationship with it.
Truth be told, for me, the negatives outweighed the positives. I deleted pretty much all my social media except for LinkedIn and maybe a random site that I forgot about because I never used it.
There are a few fundamental problems with social media that I simply cannot overcome. Sadly, some of the problems are the exact opposite of the problem that social media was trying to solve. This is my take, of course. If you disagree, I’d love to hear it. (And, if you agree, I’d love to hear that as well!)
Lack of barrier to entry
The idea was, if everyone had a voice, we could get a better feel of society as a whole, not just elites and such. There are two things wrong with this:
1. Ascribing equal value to all points of view is foolhardy. It may seem like a good idea in theory, but, in practice, it’s prone to degradation – the person who yells the loudest wins, and, anyone who yells to get noticed, lacks the basic decorum, self-control, and self-awareness for productive public discourse. There is no discernment as to who is allowed in a discussion nor is there any prerequisite needed to engage.
The idealist in us all may say, “But that’s a good thing! After all, some of us, while not the smartest people, may have something valuable to contribute.” I don’t 100% disagree, only 97%. Not everyone in any given forum has some deep Silent Bob wisdom-laden soliloquy to espouse to bring reason to a chaotic comedy of errors. Scroll through your social media – the flame wars – and see if there is such a post amongst the furious and impulsive interchanges. The Silent Bobs of the world either chose to not be involved or, maybe perhaps, simply choose to remain silent.
2. The idea of a barrier to entry is eroded (or, at least, seen as evil) and we’re left with the opinions of people who may have never worked their way through a barrier of entry. This would translate to a lazy, self-righteous, weak mind telling the world how it believes life is rather than speaking from experience.
Let’s face it, your average person has an average life because they think and act in average ways. Bold, daring, dynamic people are not average. And those bold people are the ones who have challenged themselves and have the scars to prove it. These are the folks we should listen to. Ironically, true warriors of life are rarely sitting around scrolling through social media because it is the opposite of living a bold, daring, dynamic life. There are those who make time to use these platforms to share their insights and wisdom, but, true wisdom sits outside of the common man’s purview and can be seen as dangerous or stupid (as read in the book of Proverbs).
Cheap and thin connections
We would be kidding ourselves if we thought that the connections we make and have on social media are the same as those connections in real life. That is, assuming we all knew what connections in real life actually feel like. There are, after all, people who have few or no real-life connections and pretty much only connect with people through social media. Sure, some connection is better than none, but are those social media the only connections possible or merely the default connections due to a lack of sustaining and/or nurturing real-life connections?
When we make friends in real life, there is an effort that is needed. Think about how you made your friends. There always has to be some approach and, after that, give and take to keep the relationship going. On social media, it could be the click of a button. And sometimes, there’s not even the effort to learn anything about that new connection (probably a stranger). As humans, we value that which we have worked to obtain and devalue those things that come easily. We’re devaluing each other simply because of the ease of connecting.
The vicinity of everywhere and nowhere
There’s beauty to occupying the same physical vicinity with another human or group of humans. If nothing else, all the participants experience the same environmental factors (i.e., temperature, noise level, odors, etc.). Being together online on social media is like being separate yet thinking that we are together, next to each other in the same room. Virtual reality never claimed to be actual reality.
If you think about it, just because we are able to reach people all over the country (or the world, for that matter) through a screen, doesn’t mean we have spanned any true distance to be in their presence. To many, that seems like a good thing because of convenience. Has this made the general concept of a “friend” someone who is accessible in a convenient manner? And, let’s face it, if our friends are not only inconvenient in our preferred communication platform (social media), and have inconvenient viewpoints on life, religion, politics, etc., wouldn’t that make them, by this new, perverted concept of friendship, no longer a friend? “Unfriend.” What a disastrous term!
And now, I’ve saved the worst for last…
Social Media is killing us
I’m not exaggerating. Social media is killing us – our minds, souls, culture, and, sadly, our entire being (i.e., suicide). This is not a secret. This is not a conspiracy theory. We’re going down like the Titanic and it seems like more people are buying tickets to ride than bailing ship.
At this point, you may start to push back a bit. I understand. Let me guess, you’re over the age of 30 and you monitor your social media usage. Good for you and your developed frontal cortex! Our kids, on the other hand, don’t have that advantage. Also, they don’t have a life without the internet and social media. And it’s hurting them.
You may agree or disagree. Regardless, the following list is a good start to understanding what’s really going on:
- The Social Dilemma
- Childhood 2.0
- Johann Hari – Is social media making you depressed?
- “The Coddling of the American Mind” by Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff
- “iGen” by Jean M. Twenge Ph.D.
- Addiction to Technology is Ruining Lives – Simon Sinek on Inside Quest
I didn’t mean to get all serious on you there. I mean, you came here for a comic and now you get a tirade regarding the dangers of social media. In my defense, I have always aspired to stimulate the mind and the heart with my creations. Sometimes that stimulation is a poke.
And, no, I don’t mean “poke” in the old Facebook sense.