There’s something admirable about people who are not on social media. The people who have never opened a Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter account, and have no interest in doing so. There’s something refreshing about having a conversation with someone based on real-life content and experiences, that has little to do with social media.
A number of us joined social media because of peer pressure. Everyone was on Facebook, and we didn’t want to be left behind. We wanted to be part of the conversation, and part of the narrative, and so, we caved in. Before we knew it, we were in too deep and now it’s nearly impossible to go a day without scrolling through these sites.
Now, social media and the internet has innumerable benefits, including the fact that it connects people who are miles away from one another. However, the elephant in the room is the fact that spending too much time online can make you lose sight of your inner voice and belief system.
How? Let’s say you land upon an opinion validating the theory that the earth is flat. It interests you and you follow the page to get more information. You scroll through the page and find people with similar voices, and people that agree with that notion. You go ahead to follow those people. The algorithms will bring you more and more of such content, validating an idea that may not even be what you believe in.
The more you see such content, the more you believe that it is the objective truth. Then suddenly, you believe in something that is completely false and it’s hard to convince yourself otherwise because you believe that there is a battalion of people with ‘facts’ about the notion. You expose yourself to such a wide scope of information that at the end of it you don’t know what you stand by. Spending too much time on social media and the internet makes your mentality and perception of reality easily twisted.
You see, what is often left unspoken is that we, human beings, are the product in the business of social media. What is being sold? Our attention. The algorithms will do nearly anything to get our attention. When the algorithms know what you want to see and what interests you, you will see more of such content.
So, what’s the solution? Do we just go ahead and log out of all platforms and call it quits? After all, complete abstinence is easier than perfect moderation. Not many of us are willing to do so. The quick answer to social media surveillance is to be more thoughtful about what we share. We don’t have to show and comment on everything we do.
We could sit back and trust that social media company owners will do the right thing to save us by cleaning up the tangled and treacherous jungles they created. Or we might place our faith in government to protect us with regulation. But why not just take responsibility for our own minds? We all can police our own perceptions, thoughts, and decisions online.
Customize your social media to only show things that are in line with your value and belief system. Be your own police, and don’t be scared to mute words, unfollow or block people. Use social media, and don’t let social media use you. Take charge of your life.