Irresistible (social media sabbatical day 14)
Updated: Sep 25, 2020
A few random musings as my social media diet continues:
To be honest, I do not miss being on social media much at all. After the initial pangs of withdraw subsided last week, I felt ok. Every now and then I still find myself reaching for my phone to check updates before catching myself. However, these times are few and far between now, much less frequent than a few days ago.
Without social media, I do feel somewhat in the dark when it comes to knowing what is going on in the world. With the way things are going right now, I don't necessarily think this is a bad thing.
I find that I have much more time now that I am not spending hours scrolling through my feeds everyday. I recently heard Jay Sheddy on The Rich Roll Podcast talking about how we can either be creators or consumers when it comes to our relationships with social media. This is simply profound. Sheddy says it is important to use the platforms with intention, so we can "protect our purpose." In other words, even when we are looking though feeds we can do it with purpose ( a reason for doing so), instead of just scrolling mindlessly.
I don't watch a lot of television, but there was something that I wanted to see last Sunday, The Social Dilemma. Once I figured out how to cue up Netflix, I started looking for the title on the menu. Before I could find the link for the film, I saw a flashing banner for Cobra Kai, the sequel series to the Karate Kid movie franchise. Four hours later, I had binged on season one of Cobra Kai and still had not gotten around to seeing The Social Dilemma. It made me realize that social media is not the only culprit when it comes to sucking away our attention and hooking us into these types of compulsive tech-drenched habits. It reminded me of a really interesting book I read on this subject a few years ago called Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked. In particular, I recalled author Adam Alter mentioning how when someone watches a series episode on Netflix it automatically goes to the next episode without pausing. I experienced this firsthand. It hooks you in. This is a prime example of how people are paid lots of money to keep us addicted to our tech. Alter puts this into proper perspective, "Addictive tech is a part of the mainstream in a way that addictive substances never will be."
I finally got around to watching The Social Dilemma. While its docudrama format was a little clunky at times, overall, I found it timely, considering it coincides with my social media sabbatical. The movie hinges on testimonies from many of the tech developers who played significant roles in creating the social media platforms that we all use. They all voice their concerns about how bleak our future looks if major reforms are not put in place to regulate the way in which these companies manipulate our emotions to make money. This type of psychological warfare exists because there are no regulations in this industry. Case in point, it is easy to manipulate when fake news travels faster on these platforms than actual news. A recent study out of M.I.T. showed that fake news travels six times faster on Twitter than the truth.
I find it alarming that these platforms are mining our data, manipulating our emotions, and propagating fake news at an alarming rate, but we keep going back for more. As the book title implies, we find it Irresistible. Some of the quotes from The Social Dilemma that resonated with me (paraphrased):
How do you wake up from the matrix if you don’t know you’re in the matrix?
We can't put the genie back in the bottle.
Will there be a point when we consider all news to be fake?
If you aren’t paying for a product, you are the product.
I will have a few more reflections and observations in a few days. Stay tuned...
Greg Graber, the author of Slow Your Roll- Mindfulness for Fast Times, teaches mindfulness and Social & Emotional (SEL) skills to schools, top sports teams, and various organizations around the world. Graber, a frequent keynote speaker, currently serves as the Director of SEL at Lausanne Collegiate School. He may be contacted through his website: www.greggraber.com