Last year I was watching a fascinating speech by the brilliant Roger Wolfson, who amongst other things was discussing the information age and the damage which many of us will suffer as a result of mass information. One particular area which he was discussing was the scourge of social media and why it was important that we aimed to spend less time on our various social media platforms. This was something that really resounded with me and so I made a conscious effort to spend much less time on my feeds.
Since doing so I feel great and I understand now what Roger was talking about with regards to the potential damage which these sites can do.
If we take the likes of Twitter where you are restricted to how much you can type, so to speak, you find that extreme opinions very quickly take hold and that you have to be on the extreme of one side or the extreme of the other. This is the same on many controversial topics such as race, gender, violence, and justice, we have to pick a side. Life isn’t like this, at least not real life, and because there is no space for ambiguity, there is mass pressure on you to make a decision.
So much of what we see on social media is fake, and that is down to 2 particular reasons. First of all, there are hundreds of thousands of accounts that are set up falsely by troll farms, which are there to simply put forward a certain narrative. Naturally, people then engage with the narrative and it all came about thanks to trolls and fake accounts. The second type of fake is what people post when they want to show the world that their life is great. Sadly these people’s lives are so very rarely as amazing as they want you to think, but the perception from others is that this is what they have to live up to, and the circle of falseness continues. Very few people are ‘real’ and even less of those ‘people’ are real.
Very often we may feel as though we are living in the moment and enjoying time with our friends and families, or enjoying the food we are eating or the activities which we are doing. Unfortunately, however, most of us are so focused on our social media that we are only physically present in these moments, but not emotionally. Since putting social media down, I have certainly found that I am able to be more present when I am with people, and not focused on telling the world how great a time I am having.
Because social media shows you more of the world around us, it is easy to feel bad for situations that are out of our control. Being stressed and concerned because of the war in Yemen for example, that is something which isn’t worth the energy as there is only a little that we can do in terms of donations to relief efforts or perhaps a protest if you really feel strongly. We can’t take on all of the world’s sadness however yet being hooked on social media makes us feel that way.
Give you and your mind a rest, take a while off social media, and just see how great you feel.