While you surf your feeds on Facebook, Twitter, once Google+, Reddit, whatever it could possibly be, some of us could be creating a feedback loop we crave far too often. I personally witness people "take breaks" from social media for bizarre reasons such as too much time on it, focusing on themselves, or general negativity. But they come back faster than they left. I figure this may be a reason why (notably) Facebook offers a way to deactivate accounts instead of totally deleting them. Less information to fill in upon return and the ability for Facebook to keep data.
One of my latest dropped social networks is LinkedIn. I couldn't justify having an open resume, let alone enabling employers to snoop on my activity. For an employer or someone looking to gain business contacts LinkedIn may very well be a hit, but not for me.
Despite the title of this post I think Twitter is the least vindictive of all social networks at this time, but it's also one of the most well known. It's not enabling too much other than a basic profile, a picture and status updates (with media capabilities). Twitter does deploy some of the same advertising techniques used by large websites (tailored ads, etc). I'm pointing out more on how it presents its service, streamlined, to the point and right there.
With all of that being said, I feel some people are using social media improperly and this is the reason the negativity is enabled and some want to "take a break" from.
Let's get to it, though--the addiction bit. From Science Daily:
Social network users risk becoming more and more addicted to social media platforms even as they experience stress from their use. Research into the habits of 444 Facebook users revealed they would switch between activities such as chatting to friends, scanning news feeds and posting updates as each began to cause stress. This leads to an increased likelihood of technology addiction, as they use the various elements of the platform over a greater timespan.
Obviously they're not the first to surface this information. From the influx of social media websites it's been understood the atmosphere could have negative impacts. Here's a quote (via Wikipedia and video) from Chamath Palihapitiya:
"[t]he short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works: no civil discourse, no cooperation, misinformation, mistruth and it's not an American problem. This is not about Russian ads. This is a global problem. It is eroding the core foundations of how people behave by and between each other. I can't control them. I can control my decision, which is that I don't use that shit. I can control my kids' decisions, which is that they're not allowed to use that shit". --Wikipedia, YouTube
Loneliness and its innovation
Mr. Palihapitiya knew social media platforms were a bad idea. We know this is a bad idea, however some are still unaware of its effects and some are, but willingly still go to it and use it for its harmful side effects. One of the videos I love to share puts together with fancy graphics and animated texts what social media does to us, or some, and that's loneliness. We humans have (re-)innovated loneliness.
Do you really need a break?
I think not. This is where the balance part of Pirate Things comes to play - Balance! Scrolling through hours of social feeds usually will not lead to any significant development in your life without some other action backing it. Examples being me putting this article together for you to read, playing piano, reading manuals (yes, that is a thing), or even fishing.
No, you don't need a break.
Simply... stop wasting your time
While it's painfully obvious social media networks will exist no matter what, and it was nearly inevitable they'd exist, let's instead try not to waste our own time. Again, scrolling through hours of feeds is not going to progress your life by "liking" something on a regular basis, although sure, it will signal to someone that you may lurking and surely interested in whatever the topic is. Websites (especially today's social "media") are designed to keep you interested as long as possible, but social sites kick it up a few notches. While you believe you're not on the social site, you in fact are, still sharing what you're watching, what you're reading, what you're buying and selling and even handing over your patterns via messaging people or comments.
"Users go to different areas of the platform which they see as being separate and that they use in different ways. With Facebook, there are features that take you into different worlds within the same platform. You can be in many different places all from the same application, for example following friends' activities, posting pictures about daily activities, switching to a chat feature or playing games." --Science Daily
I'm guilty of playing games online, but usually (can't recall if ever) not on Facebook or many other platforms like it. When Yahoo Messenger was a thing, Pool had me greatly addicted, alongside Pogo's take on pool, Risk, et al, but is that a social network, too?
I encourage you to...
- Use email again
- Use instant messenger
- Create your own websites to share your own experiences
- Stop giving all your data to "social media" networks/platforms
- Read a book, any book!
- Get some fresh air
- Actually meetup with people instead of "liking" their pictures
- Use Craig's List more
I'm not dissing the entire approach to social media, I am dissing our entire approach to how we're using it. Social media drives some to not be so social. While I have many on mine, there are few that actually keep in touch except through a series of likes.
Let's be better than this!
Have a good day!
What's your take on social media? Let me know on Twitter, comments or on Discord!