Simplify your social life. Less is more.
There has never been a time in the history of mankind when the average human has been more BOMBARDED with social content. Content is everywhere, usually gently yet persuasively pushing us towards some form of call to action or other. Akin to Typhoid Mary (but usually without the Typhoid), our tech devices and channels act as carriers to this persistent onslaught of media – our phones, computers, tablets, TVs, radios, watches, facebook accounts, Twitter accounts – all these channels have the capacity to keep on plying us with yet more information – all of which becomes increasingly personalised, relevant and interesting to us. Interesting, or, more accurately – ADDICTIVE.
What IS this dark magic – this ‘content’ that permeates our every waking moment? It’s no surprise to know we are being advertised to from all angles as businesses seize the opportunity to cash in on the constant flurry of UGC (User Generated Content). What’s UGC? That’s your friend Suzie on Instagram wearing her new Isabel Marant jacket or your uncle Roger on facebook enjoying his check-in to the Emirates first class lounge.
The onslaught is two-fold. Not only are we being constantly and subliminally SOLD to – we’re also picking up treats along the way in the shape of content that inspires, motivates, coaches and comforts us. This type of content reassures us that social isn’t just a selling tool, it’s a creative and educational mechanism where there is much to be learned and gained. But how is all of this content making us FEEL? Is it putting too much pressure on us to do MORE?
Most of us, particularly the Millennial tech generation have been programmed by social media to fear the idea of ‘missing out’ on the trending subject of the moment. That might be celebrity news, the latest superfood, fashion movement or holiday destination – because today’s content is, for the most part, aspirational. It’s been designed to motivate us to take action to experience the latest thing. But how much can we take on?
We see the downside of social media every day. The impact it can have on human relationships is painfully visible. Groups of friends meet up only to spend the majority of their time gazing at their phones, taking pictures and ‘checking in’. Pedestrians walk the streets, oblivious to the sunshine or the street performer, absorbed in their social group, playing a game or following navigational apps. The couple enjoying a dinner for two – one or both of them absorbed in their phone rather than their date. It’s a common sight.
What has happened? Have our brains become so overstimulated by snippets of content that a simple conversation lacks the necessary ‘hit’? Is a sunset ACTUALLY better when it’s instagrammed? Is a live concert ACTUALLY better if you film rather than experience it in the moment with your friends?
The argument that social media is making us less social is a strong one – as we avidly crave, consume and forget the next morsel of content, usually oblivious to the real and amazing stories that are unravelling around us in the present moment.
Why do we succumb to social media?
Social sharing is an increasingly important piece of a person’s online identity, but the reality is that most of us succumb to social media as a result of habit or to allay a fear of missing out. There is a more sinister side however, and social media addiction is very much a thing.
Like other addictions, it’s easy to believe how social or internet addiction has the ability to alter the chemical function of our brains. Social media addicts need to treat their addiction to social in the same way as any other – and it (almost) goes without saying that this type of help should be sought out professionally rather than Googled.
What can we do to change?
What happens when we realise social media is no longer our friend, but instead a sabre-toothed tiger growling for its next loin of gazelle?
When realisation strikes, the temptation is to shut down our facebook account, limit our time on the internet or adopt similar cold turkey tactics.
There’s no need. A different MINDSET is all that’s needed – one that allows you to create balance. Technology is here to stay so it’s in your interest to remain friends. Instead of punishing yourself, ask yourself what you’re actually missing out on.
If you’re missing human, phone-free contact, try addressing that particular issue. You could join a group that’s not tech-friendly (exercise, creative, meditation etc) or, when you meet with friends, suggest you switch your phones off.
Making efforts to stop following the herd has a huge number of positives, both emotionally and physically.
How do we benefit from LESS?
Social networks offer their users the capacity to get almost immediate access to information about things happening elsewhere. It doesn’t have the capacity to show you the brilliant thing that’s happening exactly where you are or the complexity of emotions unfurling around you.
Make your own stories, create your own experience, cut out the noise and you will see your concentration levels improve.
Stop following fashion, exercise and wellness forums and join a physical group instead. Find your motivation in other humans and stop judging yourself against others. You’ll likely find that less introspection increases your happiness levels and your acceptance and contentment with your self.
A final note
Of course the world wasn’t picture perfect before social media, but it was certainly easier to enjoy a moment without distraction. Our mission, should we choose to accept it, is to reclaim that ability to engage with other humans that we can see, hear, and reach out to touch – in the moment.
There is a place for social media, but as with all things, mixed into a healthy diet of 3D reality.