Can anyone truly doubt the effect social media has had on all our life?. A single tweet has made and broken people. That embarrassing facebook pic lost you that dream job. In a world that has taking Andy Warhol's famous words "everyone shall have their 15 minutes of fame" to heart, it's difficult to cut yourself off from the thrill of a retweet, or that like from some internet star, the feeling of accomplishment when all the 140 characters fall seamlessly into place, it's addicting. As a blogger, this fact is not lost on me, but social media has started to show it's darker side. People now rate their self-worth in terms of comments and likes, the more the better, it, combined with an obvious inability to deal with critics ( or as our blame culture has taken to calling them, 'trolls') has lead to cases of suicide!
At the start of May, I gave myself the challenge of avoiding social media for a month. This stemmed from a realisation that although I enjoy Twitter, I was spending far to much time doing my Twitter thang. So how did I plan on doing this exactly? well firstly, I removed every single social media app of my phone ( Twitter, Instagram, Facebook ) I then preceded to un-bookmark all of the social media tabs on my Macbook. Just for full disclosure, I deactivated my Facebook account ( and remains so ) but kept the Facebook messenger app. By doing this, I avoid wasting time scrolling pictures of people passing their driving test, and instead, intentionally choose whom I want to talk to. Now that the groundwork had been laid, it was now time to get on with the challenge and my findings.
Three days in, I had failed, but, I did learn something... Not many people actually speak to me. It sounds sad but I think out of the 40 friends I have on facebook, I speak to maybe five regularly! I just don't talk that much on Facebook, so, as I explained above, I deactivated my account, but kept messenger for those lucky five people :). I also feel that social media, or the way we use social media, is cheapening what friendship means. I had people on Facebook that were never friends of mine, and haven't spoken to them in the best part of a decade! perhaps this is cruel, but these people add nothing to my life, although I'm very happy to see certain people, people who were my best friends in high school, doing well, the majority are simply people who were, but no longer are, acquaintances.
My third finding comes from my favourite social media platform, Twitter. No other platform has allowed people from all over the world to argue about what colour a dress is!. Twitter has created what I like to refer to as 'conspicuous opinion', or opinion without though or even knowledge. I'm very active in British politics and am no stranger to a twitter argument, but 140 characters does not a debate make!. most but not all of these mini arguments, end in petty one-upmanship and pathetic Ad Hominem attacks. This will not stop me sharing my political views, no matter how unpopular they might be with 'popular socialism', this is my right, although some have forgotten that free speech includes other opinions. What I have mostly stopped is replying to people who obviously aren't capable of a coherent conversation.
My fourth and final finding comes from Instagram and something I call the 'filter fallacy'. We all enjoy a picture of a sunset as it bathes a tropical shore in a shimmering orange light, but spend to much time looking at pics like this and you could end up worse off mentally. When it seems like everyone else is doing so great in their careers, or traveling the world, it's easy to feel inadequate. This is the 'filter fallacy', the belief that someone's Instagram, accurately portrays their life. Whenever I get this feeling, I simply remind myself that all 7.4 billion of us, are missing out on 99.999% of what's happening in the world. Life isn't a snapshot, it's a film strip and like any film, it has it's low points, it's highs, it's standout moment, and it's eventual climax. If you're like me and think that our life is not predestined and that our lives are simply a selection of choices that we make, then there is nothing stopping you from creating a standout moment today, and guess what? you don't even need to take a pic and filter it. Real life needs no filter.