Yesterday, my husband and I had an hour long conversation about the pros and cons of social media. We agreed that never before have our lives been under more scrutiny than in this age of what I’d like to refer to as the “technological underpinning of our society.”
It’s everywhere, and we know it. We stare at our phones as the screen illuminates our faces and pacifies our intellect – and with such vehemency – that we are forgetting to have normal human interaction.
We forget to deal with our own problems and inadequacies.
Now, let’s talk about what that really means, because all life is a cycle. What does this entail for the future of our lives?
To start with, we have children who don’t get enough love and attention because parents are too busy pining over a smartphone or tablet. We have those same children whose parents blindly hand them their phones to lull them, too, into the same sort of subservience. Obviously, that means children are less likely to go out in nature, explore the world, and come to an understanding of how to behave with others. They are less likely to develop an understanding of certain social cues that make them become more emotionally healthy and stable adults.
The big thing with teenagers is texting and driving. We see more signs up on highways now about not texting while driving than we see signs about drinking and driving. It’s a real, and legitimate killer. Adults are guilty of this too, but many of those born in the age of the technological underpinning of society are now just becoming adults. Many of those same “new adults” are having babies of their own and repeating this cycle of apathy toward “real life” situations and a proclivity to forgetting to actually deal with themselves, as they are with “#nofilter.”
What’s worse is that all of this turns into blind hate and outward expressions of anger toward others. It equates to us holding other people accountable for our own personal issues that we fail to recognize or deal with. As my husband would put it, “People fear what they don’t know, and hate what they fear.” In this case, ignorance is NOT bliss. It’s a generation of ignorant and miserable people making other people miserable because they can’t handle how fundamentally broken they are inside.
Now, we’ve gone over some of the harsher aspects of the entire medium, let’s get a little more fine grained…
What exactly keeps us so attached to our phones while the whole world keeps on spinning around us?
“The Id” – noun: The part of the psyche, residing in the unconscious, that is the source of instinctive impulses that seek satisfaction in accordance with the pleasure principle and are modified by the ego and the superego before they are given overt expression.
We have a monster to feed, that’s what. The id demands immediate satisfaction and when this happens, we experience pleasure, when the adverse happens, we experience pain. Repetitive stimuli causes us to have conditioned reactions to things. When our stimuli consists of a high percentage of social media – we need more of THAT thing in order to satisfy our id. And not unlike any addiction, too much of quite literally anything is really unhealthy for you – as it teaches you to become psychologically dependent upon it. Also, even things we don’t think are so good are in reality not all that terrible – in MODERATION.
It’s in our very nature to look outside of ourselves to find the evil “out there.” We watch videos, read posts, and read articles about countless horrifying events and we wallow in it. And as much as we’d like to think that all of this human drama is the opposite of what we want – we keep on placing the bet and buying in.
Then all of the sudden, as if a miracle appears in our newsfeeds, we relish in the rare occurrence of a post, video, or article about someone helping a homeless person, a GoFundMe account set up for wounded Iraqi war veterans, a funny animal doing something silly and wonderful, a baby who survived something we can only imagine in our dizziest daydreams, or anyone standing up for something that we know to be “right.”
Let me use a somewhat vulgar analogy here: Sugar added to a shit cake will not make it taste any better, it’s still a shit cake.
We can cycle through this vast array of negative emotions brought on by countless awful stories, and feel absolved a little – even given a ray of hope in this sad world by something so profound that it brings us to tears – but we still aren’t really working on what kind of person WE are, where we fit in, why we are here, and all that is in store for OUR lives.
Furthermore, is this world really so depraved and vile? Why are we being led to believe that there is more hate than there is love around us?
The truth is that it’s really not. Statistics show that we are living in the most peaceful times right now. We’ve never had it so good! With homicide and violence rates plummeting to record lows, we are embarking upon a real enlightenment period! *Note – Click links for inspiration.*
In 1976, a movie came out that was truly inspiring. It was called, “The Network.” In it, Howard Beale (who never knew at that time what the internet or social media was) was talking about news and television and how it effected and afflicted people. For the sake of my article, I’m going to replace any “television” references with references having to do with my primary content here. He said:
“So, you listen to me. Listen to me! Your newsfeed is not the truth! The internet is a god-damned amusement park. Social media is a circus, a carnival, a traveling troupe of acrobats, storytellers, dancers, singers, jugglers, sideshow freaks, lion tamers, and football players. We’re in the Boredom Killing business. So if you want the TRUTH, go to GOD! Go to your gurus. Go to yourselves! Because THAT’s the only place you’re ever going to find any real TRUTH. But, man, you’re never going to get any truth from us! We’ll tell you anything you wanna hear! We lie like hell! We’ll tell you that, uh, Kojak always gets the killer and that nobody ever gets cancer at Archie Bunker’s house. And no matter how much trouble the hero is in, don’t worry. Just look at your watch – at the end of the hour, he’s going to win! We’ll tell you any shit you want to hear!
We are the illusions, man. None of it is true! But you people sit there day after day, night after night, all ages, all colors, creeds. We’re all you know! You’re beginning to BELIEVE the illusions we’re spinning here! You’re beginning to think that social media is the reality and that your own lives are unreal!
You do whatever social media tells you. You dress like social media, you eat like social media, you raise your children like social media. You even THINK like social media.
This is MASS MADNESS, YOU MANIACS!
In God’s name, you people are the real thing! WE are the ILLUSION!”
…and in another part of the movie he said:
“What is finished is the idea that this great country is dedicated to the freedom and flourishing of every individual in it. It’s the individual that’s finished. It’s every single one of you out there that’s finished. Because this is no longer a nation of independent individuals. It’s a nation of two hundred some odd million transistorized, deodorized, whiter-than-white, steel-belted bodies, totally unnecessary as human beings and as replaceable as piston rods. Well, the time has come to say is ‘dehumanization’ really such a bad word? Whether it’s good or bad, that’s what it is. So, the world is becoming humanoid, creatures that look human, but aren’t. The whole world, not just us. We’re just the most advanced country, so we’re getting there first. The whole world’s people are becoming mass-produced, programmed, numbered, insensate things.”
Stop believing everything you read on the internet. I don’t even want you to believe me. You’ve got to make a decision for yourself to become better and do better. Because – it’s certainly not that the world is crumbling around us. It’s that we are crumbling within ourselves. If we deal with the raw “who we are inside,” we learn how to treat others with the same respect and honor. We learn that we, in fact, don’t want others to hurt – because we know exactly what that feels like and we wouldn’t wish it on anyone.
Maybe instead of reading about those miracles, get out and DO it, BECOME the miracle. You are a bright shining light in this world, and the possibilities are endless for you if you do that footwork.
You’ll discover the wonder within yourself. Our own true beauty isn’t realized by others’ observation of it – it’s realized when we, ourselves, understand and participate in it’s fruition.
Remember, take everything in moderation. Everything. Learn how to put your phone down, sometimes and experience the world in all of its splendor. There is SO MUCH to be inspired by in the world around us. All we have to do is look up.