Social media is the biggest evil and worldwide problem we are facing in the 21st century. There I said it. Feels good to get that off my chest.
Anyone who knows me I've always had a tumultuous relationship with the devil itself. As I come under 'Gen-Z', I grew up with Social Media and was basically intertwined with the rapid explosion of Web 2.0 and mobile technology. I got my first Facebook account when I was 12, roughly, and soon got Twitter, which was basically my go-to place for any sort of interaction with people online. I knew a lot of girls who had the emo Tumblr blogs before eventually growing out of it and Tumblr basically fell off the face of the Earth. I did have an Instagram but I didn't like it, for reasons I'll get into later. I even used ask.fm on a daily basis... oh my poor naïve self. If anyone doesn't remember ask.fm, it was a site where you could ask questions anonymously but it was notorious for trolling and cyber-bullying. Go figure why.
I used Facebook more for Messenger, and even until recently, that basically was the case. When I first got Facebook, however, among my school group anyway, it acted basically like a proto-Instagram. It was a glorified popularity contest. Who could get the most likes on their profile picture that they updated weekly it seemed. Twitter was a laugh to join in the conversation with others, and joke in a public forum. And looking back, it was all pretty harmless. Just sharing your thoughts and small banter between friends.
However, over time, things started to change. As Facebook grew in popularity, literally everybody's mum and their pet dog started activating accounts. And suddenly your cozy, youth-filled bubble begins to burst.
I think it's just the area I live in, and my relatives, but I seem to know some rather right-wing individuals, and they too, seemed to know some even more right-wing acquaintances. And so begins a rather bizarre chapter in my life in which I would end-up picking fights with anyone who went against my ideals, most of which were retired 60 & 70 year olds who, majority of the time, could barely operate a keyboard and had some weird fascination with adding '...' everywhere, completely breaking any real flow of a comment or paragraph.
It was after the mini-civil war of Brexit that I came off social media for the first time. I deleted pretty much all of my accounts. I just stepped away. It was all getting too political and too much. I think my depression started really getting bad at this point.
And I'm glad I did because when I turned, it made me realise how much of a vile, toxic, echo chamber Facebook - and especially Twitter - really are. It's like growing up in a war zone, going on holiday to Barbados, then returning. How the hell did I live with this? No wonder my mental state was deteriorating.
Okay, to back-up slightly, social media is completely dictated by an algorithm. While they dress it up all cute and nice that it's to connect with friends and family and like-minded individuals, what Zucc and the other big faceless tech companies want is you. Well, specifically your data. And that is driven by your engagement. The more you click on a source, they more they'll show it as advertisers pay for that to influence you. Social Media track your every click and digital footprint, and sell it on to companies for, in my opinion, morally and ethically questionable uses. Eli Pariser coined the term Filter Bubbles and presented a brilliant speech at TED about it; I highly recommend watching it below:
(Dear lord, how is this video 10 years old and still relevant?!)
And you can see this in full-effect everywhere, especially on Twitter. I occasionally check in with old friends, some of them use Twitter religiously, and others don't. Those who don't, ironically, have what I find a much more broad, level-headed, rational and unbiased view of current views and the world itself. Those who do, it's tragic. Radical views, ranging from #DeathToTories plastered everywhere, bashing and attacking everyone who doesn't agree with exactly their views, passive aggressive comments, and even sharing baseless conspiracy theories. And while I don't want to open that can of worms on conspiracy theories (trust me, that's a whoooole other topic about the Rise Of Anti-Intellectualism), it just goes ahead to prove my point that these echo-chambers are making much more hollow, hostile versions of ourselves.
They're congregating in herds, pockets, groups, clusters etc. of hive-minded-like activity where they ricochet the same ideas over and over again, echoing only their views and not gaining a broader scope. And because they all 'trust' each other in such a small group, one new idea immediately gets accepted and rapidly passed around like herpes in a brothel. This is how Anti-Vaxxers or Flat Earthers become such a fanatic cult, or those on either side of the political spectrum get pulled and pulled to more increasing extremes.
Now, in my opinion, and I will agree expressing this may be the very definition of irony, but I feel that social media should be, at the least, regulated.
I know out-spoken proponents of Free Speech will say this is a volition of that right, and you run the risk of turning what you have into a dictatorship. But, as I'm sure I'll keep re-iterating, just because you have a voice, does not mean you are qualified to comment on the matter.
This will form a much bigger discussion on the Rise Of Anti-Intellectualism, but it will stop anti-facts being circulated, and stop people being trapped in these filter bubbles.
I've seen it corrupt and change people over the years. So many people I knew have morphed into such venomous, hate-filled husks of personality. They dress themselves up with thinly-veiled quirky memes as a sense of humour but really, who are you? Truly, look back at yourself, then inside.
While I admit I have a very weak ego, I'm at least wise enough to step away from whatever bends it. And my mental state as improved ten-fold - hundred-fold even - because I'm not suffering with a loss of self, and consistent internal conflicts over what I believe in.
I just wish a lot more people would break free from these cesspits.
Death To Social Media. For good.