A social u-turn

This week I did an electrical job for my mums uncle, technically my great-uncle (if thats even a relationship). He didn't know who I was but I knew who he was. After I explained who I was and him feeling slightly embarrassed, he came out with a plethora of stories from way before I was born.

The content of the stories doesn't really matter but it was refreshing to hear someone talk so openly reflecting on happy memories and good times. As a matter of fact, I think if I had stayed there all day he would have told me stories until I had heard every single one. This communication, talking, I think has been left behind in the 20th century.

I'm certainly not going to preach about social media use, as I have been a big user in the past, but as a generation we appear to be getting lost inside a world that is not real. At 25, I have been present during the inception of most of the big networks. Firstly, Myspace then Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter. Now there are also other big players such as Instagram and Snapchat which have massive social clout. I was at peak age to be consumed by the advantages of getting involved with aforementioned sites. As a user I didn't really have a Facebook account for very long, a couple of years before I decided I didn't want to be part of it. I have been on Twitter since 2009, almost 6 years, back then it restored my appreciation of social media, however in the last few years it's turned into a bit of a battlefield between users both young and old.

I have said things, liked, commented on, talked to, got annoyed with and laughed behind the back of people I would never think of approaching in person. Furthermore I have done a lot of the same things to people I do know, I hold my hands up, I'm guilty. Looking at the bigger picture I believe this is a real issue on 2015 earth. I read something a few months ago that said '75% of people who use social media have no control over when they use it', in other words social media controls them.

There's more than a few reasons why this is the case but i'll try and identify a few of the things which I see as the main problems. Firstly, it's free. The problem with it being free is that everybody can access it, a gift and a curse, and at a touch of a button it becomes easier than if you were to physically open your mouth and speak. Ask yourself this, if social media operators started charging £9.99 a month to use their network would you pay it? Would you pay almost £40 a month to use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat? I rather think not. There is pretty much no chance that will happen because of the way these companies get their audience and make money. But imagine it, suddenly its cheaper (easier) just to talk again, after all, talk is cheap.

Secondly, that feeling of satisfaction and self indulgence from being appearing to be popular. Interestingly this satisfaction comes from the same part of the brain as alcohol and drug addiction. That combined with the feeling when you are accessing possible personal content of others, which they know nothing about, making you feel like you've got information for nothing. This is another example of a potent concoction of ingredients which drive people further apart from communicating properly.

Every time you stop thinking, you check it, right? Actually before you know it you're designing your daily routine around it. You know the moments in the day that you can access it and when you can't, do I have enough time now? Suddenly you're not just checking your own profile but your'e checking other peoples too. The people who are always on it, effectively stalking, are as bad as the people who update you with a running commentary of their life, who are equally as bad as people who show off every material possession. To me this is addiction and it's where a lot of people are right now.

Whilst there is a potential argument and justification against all the points I have raised, there are plenty more in favour as well as extensive research into the subject but I don't want to go any deeper. Social media has great uses if you can regulate the usage, the shame is 50% of people cannot.

I've been quite a lot of the stereotypical people described above and I've wanted it to stop for some time. In a strange turn of events that started a few months ago, I started to get annoyed at every picture and comment I witnessed. I would physically shake my head and put my phone down. So, I decided to abstain from all social media in 2015 and going "cold turkey" has been interesting.

The first weeks were hard, I found quickly that it was more of a habit than an actual interest. My thumb was like a homing missile on those pretty little iPhone tiles. Since then and 8 weeks on, I haven't really thought about it much, I have different distractions and it's been the busiest time in my life so far.

More importantly I still talk to the same people I talked to before all this.

Food for thought.


© 2021 Eddie Edmonds