Warning, I'm sure this road ahead will be fraught with deep cliche potholes and dangerous, curvy tired social adage turns but I feel I want to express this.
Also, I'll just add ahead of time that the irony of me sharing this to Facebook and #LinkedIn is not lost on me by any means.
AJ and I finally got around to watching #TheSocialDilemma on #Netflix today. Wow! Do you know that feeling of knowing deep down that something you're doing may not be the healthiest thing, may not be the greatest way to care for yourself mentally/emotionally/physically, yet you do it anyways because it's fun or satisfying? Think binging on Netflix, or eating a whole package of Oreos in one sitting, or maybe even getting lost in Pinterest for an hour or two. By the time you're done with any of these, you've most likely got a bit of regret for having done it, and there is absolutely nothing to show for the time/effort you have put in. You know it's not the greatest thing to be doing, you know it's potentially detrimental to your health, but you're going to do it anyways just because; for inexplicable reasons it makes you feel good.
That's the exact feeling you have at the end of this movie. First off, for those who may not be familiar with the film: The Social Dilemma is a documentary in which several prominent ex-members of various #SocialMedia platforms, i.e. #Facebook, #Pinterest, #Twitter, etc. explain in excruciating detail exactly how the tech giants are manipulating every single user to do, essentially, whatever the AI running the platform wants you to do. They discuss the research disciplines geared toward manipulating users of the platforms to specifically do what the platforms need them to do in order to generate ad revenue. It's pretty disconcerting, almost revelatory. You end up feeling a bit like Neo in "#TheMatrix
I'll leave that there. I don't fell as though I should belabor the point, please watch the movie and let me know what you think.
Here's why I bring this up. In June of 2018, I wrote a blog post about how much my life was being side-tracked by this insatiable need to be constantly distracted by social media. I knew back then that I was having a problem with paying less attention to my children and devoting the majority of my time to made up realities cultivated by faceless Artificially Intelligent server farms. The culmination of that post was my declaration that I would begin cutting the cord, weaning myself off of the teat of attention grabbing social engineering. I was hell bent on embracing a more #luddite way of living in civilization.
Needless to say, yet I will, I failed...miserably. I went about 15 days, live journaling the adventure as I went, and ultimately gave back in to the #addiction, reactivating my social media a brief two weeks after #PullingThePlug. I realized, in real time, how deeply embedded the need for social media was in my life. It was almost as if I could not survive without the comforting reassurance of a facebook #notification, often blindly reassuring myself that I can't cancel because I need social media to keep in touch with my friends. I always find myself coming back to falsely validating my need to stay connected. The brutal reality is, my #TimeLine is filled with often unintelligible nonsense and I rarely use it to contact my friends across the globe.
As a child of the 80's and 90's, I can remember a time (I often reflect on it fondly) when we did not need to be tethered to a tiny pocket computer in order to exist on this #BeautifulPlanet. We spent our time outside, fueling our fun with the power of #imagination or simply exploring the world around us, technologically unassisted. It was more adventurous that way. This isn't to say we didn't have distractions. I remember many Saturday mornings, until noon most times, wasting away in front of the TV as I caught up on the adventures of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and various other cartoon gangs; however, once the cartoons gave way to the Soap Operas and infomercials, I did not come back in the house until the street lights came on. It was glorious in its own way. Now I find myself struggling to make it through most days without engrossing myself in the addictive nonsense that is my #Reddit feed.
I am going to try again. To a certain degree, I understand the basic need for Social Media channels. I see the merits of a worldwide, real-time notification system, capable of updating anyone on the planet of societal or cultural atrocities but the system we currently have in place works mainly to fuel #derision, #hatred and #misinformation. It's ugly. We, #OurSociety, is dying slowly at the hands of faceless corporations hell-bent on selling advertising.
In order to not jump into the deep end without the ability to swim, I am going to take it at a metered pace this time. Yesterday I went through the app tray on my phone and began deleting apps which I couldn't even remember downloading. Each day this month I am going to delete an App and see how far I can go toward unplugging myself from the machines. Yesterday I started with Reddit.
Let's start a revolution wherein we regain our abilities to control our own narratives once again.