Social Media: The Problem with the 'Social' Part.

March 7, 2018

My boyfriend sent me a thread from Science Mike (@mikemchargue) on Twitter last night and it was such a great thread that I thought I'd share it with all of you. It addresses the irony of social media and the real effects it has on each person. What was created to be a tool of global communication slowly began to branch off into avenues of distorted views of self, relationships, friendships, 'goals', and more. How did we get here? How did something so simple turn into something so potentially damaging?

 

Read Science Mike's thread below and let me know your thoughts. 

 

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" Research is increasingly clear that social media has more negative consequences for most people's mental health that positive ones. Here's a few things that I've found helpful in my approach to social media: 

 

1. I understand that social media companies have a financial incentive to create services that create compulsive behavior among their user base. It's in my best interests to mitigate that.

 

1a. Notifications are a primary mechanism for creating dopamine-fueled compulsive loops. It's in my best interest to disable all notifications coming from social media platforms, and to be intentional about how often I check them.

 

1b. Social media algorithms have learned that outrage is one of the single most attention-holding emotions. So, I intentionally take the time to step back and process any outrage I am fed via social media platforms.

 

2. I understand that social media gives me an extremely limited view of other people. Thanks to the lack of body language or real time facial feedback, social media tends to dehumanize others to my brain.

 

2a. This distance via dehumanization tends to make social media conflicts explosive and volatile. I can mitigate these tendencies somewhat by responding to others with kindness. Many encounters can be productive when deescalated.

 

2b. Often, my fear of damage to reputation or social standing compels me to engage in conversations that are not healthy or helpful to either party. Walking away to process or establishing boundaries can be a good decision.

 

2c. Conflicts with people I know outside of social media are almost always healthier to have outside of social media.

 

2d. The opinions or criticisms of strangers should be held loosely--even when those criticism have merit and deserve further examination or introspection.

 

3. Relationships with people of other ethnicities, sexual orientations, gender identities, political affiliations, or other points of identity on social media are not replacements for real life relationships with people different than me.

 

4. When I feel lonely, isolated, depressed, or anxious, I understand social media can often deepen those feelings, even if it momentarily alleviates them.

 

4a. An attention economy monetized smiling faces, and therefore offers a skewed perspective on what other people's lives are like. Social media platforms often show the smiling faces of other people who are lonely and sad too.

 

Social media is a valuable tool. It offers marginalized voices a powerful megaphone. It allows isolated people the opportunity to connect with others like them, even when such connection can be dangerous in local communities.

 

But, we must always remember social media platforms aren't created out of altruism or activism, but a profit motive that creates exploitive incentives that have to be actively managed, less these tools impair our wellbeing."

 

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How great was that? Obviously #2a was our favorite point :-) but seriously, the point remains that as harmless as these social mediums appear, with the assumption that you are in 'control', great harm can occur without emotional intelligence and a true understanding of who we are.

I am a Christian. For anyone following me, you already know this, so my self worth comes from who the Bible says I am. Sometimes, I get SUPER distracted which is why walking closely with God is imperative for me. I can only speak for myself however, when I realize that I am checking social media more often than I should, I ask God to realign me. I ask myself 'What am I doing this for? What am I getting out of this?' I then shift my attention to Romans 12:2 which says,

 

'Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect'. 

 

Now you may believe in God or you may not. I am not here to convince you nor do intend to come off 'preachy'. I just want you to understand and believe that you are here for a reason. We all are. And that reason will never include being rude or harmful to another person.

 

I encourage you to shift your attention from the power of social media to the power of presence and moments and love and live the life that only you can. 

 

Moments Matter.  

Alicia 

 

 

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