Saturday, July 8, 2017

Are you a social media user, or is social media using YOU? 5 more reasons to kill your addictive use

Mark Zuckerberg, facebook, social media, anti social media, quit facebook, delete facebook, negative effects of social media, mental health

I'm on and off on Facebook. I have a love-hate relationship with it, but I usually hate it more than I love it and now I'm off it again. Even if we don't outrightly say it, we only show the best side of our lives on Facebook and we all like the dopamine hit of likes and notifications.

I remember the icky things I posted on Facebook. Would you believe it, when I topped the board exam I made my profile public, changed the name I used to my real name (so that people can search for me), and generally made a stupid fool of myself now that I'm 'popular'. Little did I know then that the happy and smart and deep person I projected wasn't the real me at all. Then I realized that being a topnotcher and that top spot has a negative side too and I cringed at everything I posted and did on social media.

In the end, it made me depressed. It makes me a creepy stalker. It makes me waste so much time viewing my profile, as if it was a mirror where I check my appearance every now and then. I realize now that the same 'mirror' reflected back a false self to hide away the real issues eating at my mind and heart: loneliness, terror, anger, the need to prove the self. In the end I feel jealous of the perfect lives others present (which is just pretense, most of the time). I swing between grandiosity and the lowest low of self-esteem. I begin to hate everyone around me. All I think of is ME, Me, ME!

Someone's so shocked I deactivated Facebook and said she's "happy" when I got back. A few weeks later I see that me coming back is not worth it. Other people can manage, but I found that too much of it is bad for my mental health and outlook on my life.

The truth is, I feel sad about all the wasted hours (maybe whole weeks and months) that I let social media run my life and my free time. I grieve for all the more meaningful activities I should have done with people I love. I invested so much time on a false image, an edited online profile. It can be a damaging addiction.

If you are depressed as well, and you think you might as well quit but you can't:

1. It's a negative investment. 
Social media isn't free, you pay for it with your time and attention span. "I'll just scroll through Facebook for awhile," turns to stolen moments, turns to stolen hours. Everything's begging you to 'like me!' or 'react to me!'. They want to sell you something. All of them wants to sell something.

2. It makes you compare yourself to others.
Their trip abroad. Their filtered relationships. Their fun outings. Their delicious food. Am I missing out on the good life? Will my life be better if I get more likes? Would I be satisfied if I'm a social media star in my own small circle?

3. They were created to be addictive.
They want you to spend as much time in them as possible because more of your attention=more money! Sometimes people say that you simply have to control yourself, but are we the only ones to blame when these platforms make it so hard to control yourself? We are carrying a slot machine in our pockets, and what we're gambling is our time. Most of the time, we are fooled but in the end its always our loss.

4. It makes you focus on yourself.
I was struck by what I read in the Gospel of John. "People would gladly honor each other but care nothing about honor that comes from God." We gladly like each others posts and care nothing about true change outside the screen. We capture moments to be preserved in screens. We don't intend to do this, this is what they want us to do. Look at me. Like me. Love me. I love it. I want more of those sweet, sweet, notifications telling me I'm a great human being (only if you like me).

5. It makes you a zombie. 
You wake up and instead of looking at the sunrise, the first thing you do is turn on your phone like an addict reaching for his fix. You smile at all the new likes. You smile again to take a picture of yourself and post it. Rinse and repeat, and after several more years... you smile one morning again and see that you don't look like you used to. Time has gone by and all the smoothness of youth is gone. Would you wait until its too late and wonder and regret about all the time you've lost?

Half my life is gone, and I have let
The years slip from me and have not fulfilled
The aspiration of my youth, to build
Some tower of song with lofty parapet.
Not indolence, nor pleasure, nor the fret
Of restless passions that would not be stilled,
But sorrow, and a care that almost killed,
Kept me from what I may accomplish yet;
Though, half-way up the hill, I see the Past
Lying beneath me with its sounds and sights,--
A city in the twilight dim and vast,
With smoking roofs, soft bells, and gleaming lights,--
And hear above me on the autumnal blast
The cataract of Death far thundering from the heights.

Mezzo Cammin ("Middle of the Road") by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

the circle, dave eggers, the circle movie, big brother, 1984, we're watching you, social media
The fictional SeeChange cameras from The Circle movie

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