Social Media is Selling Your Soul
Social media is a lousy place to carry out your personal life or create meaningful experiences. Out of the hundreds or thousands of people following you, my guess is 1–5 people are actually your true friends. You can throw in a few more family members, but they only really count if they make an effort to interact with you online.
I’ve had a love/hate relationship with social media from the beginning, but lately, my feelings have turned into complete apathy. When most of my friends were still figuring out how to use their flip phones, I used social media. It was great then! That was when I didn’t know anyone online in the flesh, and people actually wanted to connect with strangers from another town, city, or country. Your connections weren’t based on how famous you were or how many followers you had. It was less about having an audience and more about discovering new people and new things. It was interesting and different, and I was curious.
In 2005, Friendster was my first, but Myspace was my go-to as a music lover. The Internet was just fun back then. You could actually get into some great conversations and debates with people on news sites and social forums without anyone behaving like an asshole with an inferiority complex.
It took me some time to join Facebook. I was skeptical of its usefulness and its drab blue and white interface. It looked like a box that I had to fit into where I could only connect with family and friends I knew pre-internet. I don’t fit into boxes. I eventually joined sometime in 2007 at the urging of a friend, but grew sick of it quickly and deleted my account within a year. In 2009, I was lured back in by sheer boredom, I guess. From 2007–2016, I created and deleted several Facebook accounts. I would keep each account for about a year, start with some level of enthusiasm, delete my account, take a break, and start another one. I was beginning to think something was seriously wrong with me until I decided it was a completely healthy reaction to an unhealthy way of socializing. I currently have a Facebook account, but I mainly use Messenger and keep it for business purposes.
Twitter was terrible from the get-go. It’s just a sea of sales and marketing executives, tech nerds, real estate agents, journalists, and heavily medicated housewives selling CBD oil. Who can make a meaningful connection with anyone using under 140 characters? If you can, good for you! You must be a robot. As far as I’m concerned, Twitter is a soundbite extension of LinkedIn. It’s like being involved in an online tradeshow where everyone is trying to sell you something. No thanks! I was on Twitter for like half a second in 2008. I left.
My next stop was Instagram in 2015. I initially set up a personal account, then a few business accounts, and finally, my poetry accounts. I deleted my personal account within a year. My main poetry account has brought some personal satisfaction in sharing my writing, and I’ve met some interesting people, but at this point, I’m unsure as to whether I want to maintain it. It has become Intsanoise, where everyone who can write a sentence thinks they’re a poet.
I’m in my 40s, so I could really care less about TikTok, which is likely controlled by the Chinese government as is claimed. I’d rather not take my chances. Snapchat never interested me at all. I mean, how many social media accounts can I maintain?! I honestly feel sorry for all the teenagers and 20 to 30-somethings who have replaced real-life connections with meaningless social noise. If I could only take you all back to the 90s and show you how satisfyingly real and honest things were back then.
No one is responsible for anything on social media. No one is accountable for what they say, what they post, nor what they respond to or lack thereof. It’s as if we’ve become a bunch of soulless self-interested cowards hiding behind our phones, waiting for someone to pay attention to us. I wonder when the day will come when we realize that social media is just a marketing machine, and we are being had. Nothing good can come from a false sense of socialization and 24/7 access to it unless we’re offering something meaningful to others in the process.
The more time I spend using social media, the less satisfied I feel with my life overall. I miss the way we used to socialize. You know, when we actually had to call each other on the phone, and there was no escape until someone hung up, or when we walked down the street to a local club or bar to meet a friend for a drink or a game of pool. I mean, yes, we still do these things, but social media has made it easier for us to make up an excuse not to, and many of us make excuses more often than we should.
Through social media, we have become pawns in a human experiment conducted by major corporations and special interests groups to create consumers and supporters of hidden agendas. It has done more to break down the health of our society than improve it. A part of me hopes this is just a fad that will burn out in a few years or morph into something else, possibly something far more practical and useful. Will I commit social media suicide this year? Perhaps I will. See you IRL.