On the Line

True story. I finally did it.

It began with Instagram. I’m too old to be an InstaQueen and a photographer once felt me up so not big on photos.

I bailed from Instagram around a year ago.

I joined LinkedIn when it first hit the net. New to web development, I was constantly scouring for ways of marketing and picking up clients. I know how this sounds but I left it in anyway because I did actually pick a future boss lady up one night in a bar. A skinny acid blonde who ended up hiring me to be her client services manager instead of coming home with me.

Turns out I dodged a bullet.

I joined LinkedIn way before any of my friends had because tech addict. I guess that’s why I never found it interesting. I loathe consumerism and it seemed to be a case (as they’ve all turned out to be) of a bunch of people madly posting stuff to get attention, to make more money and nobody really being heard.

Doesn’t sound much like connection.

LinkedIn was deleted around two months ago after never being used, hardly, at all.


Deleting my personal, and two business accounts, on Twitter was fuckin’ liberating.

I was on a roll by then.

I never Tweeted much except to get free clues on a Word Puzzle app in exchange for sharing my budding gaming addiction. I did turn to Twitter when there were a bundle of fires in my area for the latest updates. While the live feed from people on the ground was shared in real-time, I understood in full how powerful the platform is. More honest than the news because it’s us masses sharing updates. Like, or whatever you do on Twitter. Power to the People. But I’m wordy, I over-explain and I could never say anything meaningful in 108 characters.

I left “The Facebook” until last. I call it “The Facebook” because that’s what it was originally called by Mr Z.

A personal joke about how stupid we humans can be when we allow our impulses to control us instead of our rational minds.

And how susceptible we are to clever marketing.

“Facebook” naturally has more punch.

I now call it “Fakebook”.

I don’t do this because I’m an arrogant dick. I try to be an aware, nonjudgmental human being.

I could go off into spiritual discussions on Conversations with God, barely educated discourses on Quantum Physics, The Dream the Buddhists laugh about or talk of the philosophy of trees falling in woods. Conversations on why I think real connection is a vital (if not the only) relevant part of the experience of being “alive”.

Social media was meant to facilitate this. I mean, even the name suggests it might.

But does it, really?


Facebook I know some about. I remember signing up when it was only liddle and it was still fun. Simple updates by actual real-life friends on their daily missions. That was all it was. With a live chat included.

Unexpectedly finding people again that got lost en route as we grew into responsible (or still irresponsible) adults. Myself a newly single mom housebound at night with a very young child. It was my only form of socialising. It was my saviour for many months after my daughter fell asleep in an otherwise empty nest.

Along with copious amounts of cheap, red wine.

Then Facebook grew. And it grew.

So began the inevitable marketing to the valuable attention of its users. Following this… the ever-growing “friends” lists as connections, of connections, of connections were “connected.”

These are not your “friends.” Do you remember who your real friends are? Clever, Mr Z.

Very clever.


As the audience grew and the money began to talk, Facebook made friends with Google.

By the way… fuck you, Google.

Once-upon-a-time I wanted to work for you. Some kids in a garage taking over the internet. Admirable and cool. Now I can’t even find a bus route without my so-called assistant begging me to record and send my voice into the cloud somewhere.

So Google takes over the internet. Facebook takes over Instagram. SnapChat. WhatsApp. Google and Facebook make friends because Big Stacks always.

And where does this leave us and our ”friends?”

It’s like this. And you know it is. This story is not a conspiracy theory. I wish it was.

“Conspiracy theorist.”

Now applied without discretion to anyone sharing information that’s not common knowledge or popular opinion.

I’ve been bitching about social media for almost three years now and have had people rolling their eyes at me. These are not my paranoia-driven fantasies. These are not even my ideas or hypotheses.

In fact, my ex-partner was the one who first alerted me to the pitfalls and dangers of social media. He found studies on the effects it’s having on younger humans with a sudden, radical increase in anxiety, depression and suicide attempts among teens.

Now directly linked to the use of these platforms.

I also ignored him at first.

I was still addicted to The Facebook and the information didn’t fully register. This is how denial works. It didn’t seem that big of a deal at the time (i.e. I didn’t want to stop using Facebook).

He only mentioned it in passing and in relation to a program I was developing aimed at prevention, support, and education for teens regarding mental health and addiction. I heard it, chose not to ask more (see denial above) and moved on with my daily activities.

Something you may also be wanting to do right now.

During some research for a different area of the program, a bit later, I found a video. It was then the penny dropped in full and my outrage began to grow at the entirely intentional intentions of these platforms.

*There is a lot of information here, so take your time. I do suggest you hear what the actual experts have been trying to share because it sucks being grumpy, anxious, and depressed. And you can stay online and still be cheerful. In fact, it is simpler than you may think.

Knowing your enemy is a damned fine start — to taking back your power.


1) Social Media is Designed to be Addictive

The web developers coding for social media platforms use the same algorithms used in gambling casino slot machines to give a user’s brain hits of the neurochemical Dopamine to get them hooked.

Social media platforms save up notifications and release them in one go. Users get the “high” of a well-timed “jackpot”. The developers are intentionally targeting the neurochemicals and regions of the brain that are a part of the addictive cycle (for drugs, alcohol and behavioural addictions like gambling).

The intention is to addict us and to keep us using their platforms as much as possible. More attention sells more advertising space, you see.

And they are laughing at us.

I’ve personally seen an interview with a Facebook developer laughing openly while he shares this.


2) Social Media Encourages Dishonesty

We don’t know the consequences of the onslaught of the internet, smart devices and communicating via texting instead of real-life physical conversation. Yet.

There’s this thing called meta-communication.

This type of communication only occurs between human beings who are in the same physical space. Where facial expression, vocal tone, eye contact and body language are part of the communication.

Now we text someone when they’re in the same room. We lie easily about how we are feeling (*smiley emoji). We can be whoever we want to be online. Our exchanges are brief and summarised. Too brief to get a real sense of, or enough information to understand, a whole complex entirely different human being.

Misinterpretation is easy. Lying is even easier.

Connection can be feigned, completely imagined or both.

A form of communicating that is ripe for misunderstanding…

is now our preferred way to “talk.”

*worried face emoji or *rolling eye emoji , depending on who’s reading this, what will resonate with you most and keep you reading longer.

Honest, vulnerable, authentic connection is also how we feel validated and “seen.” Authentic connection is vital for good mental health. Honest sharing encourages much-needed support and validation in stressful times. *sighing emoji even if there isn’t one

Might it be the bizarre and impersonal modern comms that are causing the increase in anxiety, depression and suicides in the younger humans?

*no surprise there emoji


3) Social Media Rewards Anti-Social Behaviour

Conscious relating skills are learned and need practice to become honed.

Skills like:

1. checking to make sure that you understand what’s being shared correctly because our own perceptions and life experiences often (almost always) skew what we hear (or even see) in our daily interactions with others.

2. Non-judgment and active listening.

Engaging like this will always remove acrimony because of misunderstanding. It also helps people learn more about a many-faceted world and equally faceted human experiences.

There would be much more peaceful resolution and far less fighting, if we took the time to understand each other better and were more tolerant and forgiving of our inevitable differences.

I’m not a hippie or a dreamer (anymore). This is simple logic.

Unless you’re a dick and are intentionally inciting war or disagreement. And we now know the Powers that Be use social media to do this for their own personal gain.

Please take the time to watch a really interesting doccie called “The Great Hack”

#mindblown


4) Social Media Rewards Acrimony

Angry exchanges are common on social media or any time that we talk about the things that matter to us.

Gone are the simple personal updates on Facebook.

Hello to mainstream politics and news.

What happened to not discussing Religion or Politics at dinner parties out of mutual respect to keep the peace? Now we do it live in front of thousands of “friends.” In a public arena ego too easily becomes involved as we feel we have to “win” at all costs.

In addition, people are often attacked or shamed if they share less popular views around emotionally charged topics. Or cancelled in full.

The Facebook algorithms are written to bump up posts with high engagement. That’s their job. To give you what they think you want so they can harvest your valuable attention.

What really grabs people’s attention most easily?

A car crash. A good, messy, mess and a fight. A train wreck. It’s a less than admirable but commonly acknowledged quirk of human nature. This is how social media rewards (and thus encourages) the gritty, less kind and less humanitarian side of human nature mathematically.

Because this is what we react to the most quickly.


5) Social Media is Linked to Mental Health Issues

We want them likes and we market ourselves to get them.

We see only snippets of the most enviable parts of people’s days. With filters.

This leaves people who are struggling with personal challenges feeling even worse. This also gets people stuck in pretending they’re living a rock ‘n roll lifestyle, which leaves them more isolated and alone when the dopamine high wears off.

Different drug of choice. Same comedown.

We’re not encouraged to share honestly, vulnerably, openly, or consciously on social media. This is pop culture self marketing all the fuckin’ way. Entertainment. But it’s our lives that are being offered instead of well scripted stories.

Nobody wants reality. It’s a bummer. It’s not okay to be only human. To struggle. To have a bad day. Or heaven forbid … to make a mistake or fail.

Imagine growing up with this kind of programming.

Our Millennials have been receiving this message all day from every angle, since forever, and we wonder why they’re anxious and depressed?


6) Social Media uses our Personal “Triggers” to Manipulate us

They are listening.

No, it’s not hippy, conspiracy bullshit. Again.

Your clicks, your data — everything that you do online — is being recorded.

They use this data to build (apologies — have built) a psychological profile of you. They know what you’re likely to click on. And they know exactly what will provoke you to react.

Why?

So that they can use your own triggers to get you to buy or share what they want you to.

And they have.

Are you feeling uneasy yet?

You can find out more about how dangerously this can be used in the same doccie mentioned earlier.


7) Social Media is Abusive

Using shame, guilt and rejection to “discipline” people is a form of psychological and emotional abuse. The End.

Hello “cancel culture”. I’m talking to you.

People raised in families where guilt, shame and rejection are used to discipline them develop addiction and mental health “disorders” later on in life.

Be who I say you are and do what I want you to do, or I will shame, ridicule and reject you in full.

Ongoing emotional and psychological abuse results in C-PTSD.

C-PTSD results in anxiety and depression.

Social media encourages this type of “relationship” and relating style (plain old abusive) in its communities/members.

User can be left with C-PTSD as a result.


8) Under Pressure — The Big Finale

My generation was the first to get this tech but we were already adults and the internet was still fucking slow.

We even had to go outside to rent a DVD. Most importantly, we were 80’s kids. Taking down the system was a part of our identity. Being a rebel and a misfit was mainstream. Our generation was allowed to be angry, depressed, emo, weird and outraged.

And fuck! were we.

Nobody labeled us with mental disorders or threw us out of the pack.

The messier your hair and the more smeared your makeup, the cooler you were. Nobody blinked a fucking eye at us belligerent teenagers. When we walked out of the door, we disappeared until we could find an actual phone booth if we needed to get hold of someone.

We were infinitely more “free.”

Now it is all online. All the time.

Where you can be anything you want to whenever you want to. Where you can be crying, drop a smiley emoji and nobody will ever know. Where you can lie easily because nobody can see you blush. Where you can have thousands of friends you’ve never met in person. Friends who don’t give two fucks about you beyond getting their own shit shared more widely.

Where you can see the Insta photos of the party you were never invited to in real-time.

Imagine being at the age when making mistakes; acne; hormonal weight gain and all the other beautiful awkwardness of being human are blossoming.

But you are, literally, in the public eye and can not put one foot out of line.

The gods forbid you‘re being only human and someone gets some footage of you being only human in 2021.

No pressure, darlings. Just be you and the world will adjust.

Sure, pal.


So addiction. And 24/7 advertising that, let’s be honest, has always worked on milking our personal insecurities to get us to buy more stuff so that we can feel more okay with ourselves. Massive platforms using algorithms that encourage addiction. People showing the best, fake parts of their worlds as standard normal life. Our data being harvested so businesses can undercover direct market and even control our responses. Dishonesty being encouraged. Perfection expected. Toxic, abusive relating skills and bullying as the new philosophical and personal discourse. High levels of anti-social behaviour and narcissism being rewarded with more visibility and greater response.

What could possibly go wrong?


Every moment that they have you engaged is another opportunity for them to tell you what you need to buy, do or say to feel okay. Every moment you give them your attention is another opportunity for them to sell that attention to some Big Guy.

This is your value.

Your undivided attention. Your TIME. Their most valuable commodity. Your most valuable commodity. You have the power to choose where to focus your attention and where to spend your time.

This is the power you already have, to beat the algorithms and to change the status quo. You had it all along.

Use your power wisely.

Thanks for you reading time! *winking emoji


Originally released on Medium

unplugged

2022

Part of the [meta] Verse project

Connecting : stock selfies

an NFT project

in progress

Shares and cares super appreciated forever and always <3