Hi! You’re probably reading this for a very simple reason: The link to this site is the last post I made.
There are many, many reasons. The first and foremost? Health reasons. Yes, that’s right, health reasons. I wanted to go on by rationalizing that no, it didn’t cause some kind of disease, but the truth is, it kind of did. You see, by being on one main social media site, over and over and over and over (and over and over) again, you become really de-sensitized to certain things. Between the fake news sites that go viral, to BuzzFeed and all of it’s copycats, to birth announcements to terror attacks- it’s a lot of information, all at once, and in the end, we just become numb to that flood of information, and react with less and less gusto, and become more gullible to more information sources.
Fake News! Fake News!!
First, I want to talk real quick about the real ‘fake news’ that’s out there. Publication after publication goes viral on FaceBook. But how many of them have honest, credible sources? Very few. In fact, there’s so much other ‘noise’ on FaceBook, that even the sharpest of minds, the brightest of intellects, are fooled by this game of repetition. You might ask then, “If these articles are so full of crap though, why do we continue to expose ourselves to them?”. It’s because these posts are designed to grab your attention, and make you want to read them. You know those ads that pop up about 20 seconds after you’ve clicked the link? How many times have you re-opened that article, just so you can finish reading the page? I’ve done it, you’ve done it, and we all know it’s mostly out of spite at that point- you know the article was meaningless- you only half-heartedly care about the ‘truth’ behind coconut oil benefits anyways, but you’ve already gotten this far, you’ve *clicked* on it, and you want to see this decision, this impulse, this action through to the end…. So you re-open the article another time or two, just so you can read a paragraph or two that leads to nowhere, and now you can move on down your news feed. But back to that article… where were the credible sources? At this point, it doesn’t matter. The whole point of that article, and the all-too perfectly yet imperfectly-timed pop-up ad, was to get not one, but multiple page views out of you. Guess what? It worked.
Think about it. Let’s say you run a media website, and you want to make a profit. How do you make your website profitable? By selling ads on your site. How do you appeal to an advertiser over other websites? Well, as a company interested in placing ads, I want my ad to be seen, which means I’m looking at the traffic and volume on that site. If every single visitor actually visits twice per visit, that looks GREAT for potential advertisers! So, to make the most money, why don’t you put together a whole HOST of sites that run this? That way you can sell TONS of ads, and then, eventually, you can move your way up the slimy advertising ladder to bigger, slimier tasks. In the meantime, though, most of us consumers are left to wade around in the muck.
The FaceBook “Routine”
Second. Let’s talk about when we “Check” FaceBook.
In the elevator- yes, even when there’s no connection. We’ve ALL scrolled through a timeline that only has the few posts that loaded in the background….
At stop lights on the commute to work-
Or- every time a bus or train has access to cell service or wifi
When we make our coffee
Breaks at work
Lunch at work
Down time at work
To avoid conversation in the hallway
Waiting in line- anywhere, and for everything
Before we get in the car
More stop lights
When we finally can sit down on our couch after a long day
That’s ALL day. And maybe not all of these apply to you. Props! If you go most of the day with full focus and attention on the tasks at hand and on your own goals, whether personal, professional, or otherwise, then this really doesn’t apply to you. But for most of us, we can nod in recognition that we have been guilty of checking off most of those ‘checks’ on most days.
“So, why are we doing this?”
A lot of why we check facebook has to do with not wanting to deal with social interactions in real life. It’s easier to be ‘distracted’ by interesting content and catching up on your high school friends’ lives online, than actually make small talk with that girl who works on the other side of the office that you see literally every day in passing.
It’s easier to ‘justify’ the awkward silence in an elevator by reading a fascinating article about the 25 things millennials have killed off this year.
This is avoidance. This is us finding ways to keep ourselves separate from each other. Instead of sparking up conversation with someone next to us on a train, an elevator, a hallway, a waiting room, we silo ourselves off from each other, too busy being preoccupied in our own little worlds to experience the world we live in.
To top it all off, studies have suggested that ‘Likes’ and other notifications on social media generate mini hits of dopamine in our brains. It FEELS good to be given praise and attention. Because dopamine, the pleasure chemical in the brain, is involved, addiction is a real issue here. Go Google Dopamine. Just start exploring what it is and what other results come up with it if you’re not familiar. Go do it before the internet is completely throttled and you have to pay to search for things….
There’s nothing wrong with liking social media, or wanting your own down time… Except…..
There truly isn’t anything wrong with wanting to be in your own little space, and I am no less guilty than anything else. But I DO have a problem with ‘my own space’ being littered with fake news stories, pointless drama, and heated arguments that lack merit. Now we’re starting to get front and center where my problems lie with FaceBook: Whether you see it as direct or indirect, FaceBook has a toll on health. For me, I get aggravated over annoying ads, I get upset over these heated debacles (many of which spur from poorly-written news articles), and on top of it all, FaceBook is the place that people spend time crafting their posts and pictures to digital perfection prior to posting. Seeing this crafted perfection time and time again, even for the smartest of wits and the strongest of wills, eventually takes a toll. You start to feel not good enough, and this unwarranted desire to be better, and not in a good way- because it’s not for yourself, but for the approval and praise of others. This mentality leads to depression, and to anxiety; it leads to being too self-conscious, and having a lack of self-worth and confidence.
This creates a really vicious and unhealthy cycle: We get caught in advertisement traps, we go through tons of emotions, our friends and family are involved, we have sentimental attachment without realizing it, we feel down on our lives, but determined to ‘look good’ for others, and the dopamine hits are keeping us coming back wanting more….
All of those things combined are what I’m talking about when I say that FaceBook is unhealthy.
But EVERYONE is on FaceBook!
I get it. FaceBook is front and center in all of our lives. It’s become the universal platform that allows us to connect with everyone from celebrities to companies to Grandma and everyone in between. There’s a sentimental connection to having a profile- you can look back and see the TimeHop posts, you can browse thousands and thousands of memories and photographs, and from time to time, it puts a smile on your face to see an old colleague or friend from high school post about a promotion or something cheerful.
Those connections are only on FaceBook
Examine the people you spend the most time with. If you live close to where you grew up, you probably spend a fair amount of time with family. If you’re in a relationship or have a spouse, you spend most of your time with them. If you’re well-established where you live, you probably have a handful of pretty close friends, and regardless of where you live, you simply ‘know’ a lot of people that you can usually remember their names, and enough about them to have a few minutes’ worth of casual conversation from time to time. In addition to these people, we all have flocks of people that we also ‘know’ but don’t spend any time with in person. I’m talking about high school and college classmates, coworkers from previous jobs, friends of friends that you added because they’re tagged in a lot of pictures by other friends. All of these ‘flocks’ of people- they’re about as interested in your life as you are with their’s. If you don’t see a post of their’s for months at a time, you probably aren’t wondering ‘what happened??’. In fact, you aren’t wondering anything at all. This doesn’t mean you’re a bad person, or that you don’t care, it simply means that these people aren’t close in your life, and that’s perfectly alright.
We were taught by MySpace and now FaceBook that for some reason, the more connections and friends we have, the happier we’ll be. While networking has a key role in business and careers, this is not the case for our personal lives. In fact, managing that many interpersonal relationships just ends up being more work than it’s worth. It’s information overload- I really don’t need to know that a classmate I had 20 years ago just got engaged. I haven’t seen this person since they were still dealing with acne and cutting class after lunch!
What I’m getting at- the most we get from adding or being added by these ghosts of our past is just a small, sentimental hit of dopamine that we were thought of, and a small moment of nostalgia. These people from our past were important once, and saying you don’t need to be ‘friends’ on facebook doesnt diminish the value or strength of friendship you once shared; you’ve simply moved on to new phases of your life, and you owe it to the person you’ve grown to be, and the decisions you’ve made to get you where you are today to acknowledge that. Again, these people from our past didn’t make the same decisions we made, because everyone is different, and has their own aspirations and dreams and goals. They have made other friends, just like you have, so you’re not doing anyone any ‘favors’ by trying to reach out and be everyone’s friend.
So what does this mean for you, Ricky?
What this means for me is quite simple: FaceBook, which has literally become an integral part of my life, has leeched precious time from me. Although the universal platform has been a nice way to keep in touch with everyone that I know, it’s caused some negative effects. I no longer wish to be part of the social experiment that it represents. I no longer wish to be part of it’s machine. I want to stay in touch with the people I care about, but online isn’t an effective way of doing that.
How can we stay in touch with you?
What may sound hypocritical, is that you can follow this website. Most of my posts are opinionated, but you’ll get my full story, and full collection of thoughts on each. You can leave public feedback through comments if you choose, you can even feel free to share my posts on social media if you so desire.
I’m pretty sure there’s links at the bottom of each page of my site to subscribe to posts. If you have any trouble, leave a comment or message me!
FaceBook is the biggest of social media hurdles to overcome. And to be honest, I’m not sure if even I am up to the challenge of dropping it. I’m going to give it a go though, and see what happens. I tried once before, and I made it about 2 weeks. I want to give this a bigger effort. Along with it, Instagram needs to go, and Twitter. SnapChat I’m considering keeping up. Once you’ve ‘caught up’ on the stories and snaps, there aren’t ‘holes’ you fall into. Although there are news stories and other places you can go, it’s not front and center like on FaceBook.
Add me on SnapChat:
You can always text. You can call (but i probably won’t answer) You can leave a voicemail- but I probably won’t check it until a day or two later.
You can always email- Ricky.Celaya.Renaud@icloud.com
For those closest to me, I’ve probably taught you about the wonderful, private, secure way to share photos if you have an iOS device, so you’ll still get picture updates from time to time. If you have an iPhone and aren’t sure what I’m talking about- just text and I’ll explain it, and I’ll show you a whole new method to keep in touch with friends and family with photos privately!
I hope you enjoyed this post. Again, who knows if this will stick. There’s of course no judgement whatsoever from me to anyone using social media. I’m just seeking more balance in my life, and trying to find ways to be a better version of me. Hosting a website for my own personal blog and still using some forms of social media probably seems a little hypocritical, and I get that. I still have the desire to stay connected to the people i care about, but again, this is my journey and I’m doing my best to find my own balance and happiness, and I wish the same to you ☺️✌🏻