I’m deleting my social media, you should too

Since the rise of the internet, we have seen a steady progression towards a digitalized way of doing almost everything, including – quite worryingly – communication. Of course, the ability to retain international friendships and the ease at which you can apply for jobs are among the many benefits of this rapid system of 1s and 0s, but what began as an innocent novelty has turned into a pandemic, as people relinquish their presence in the real world in exchange for this virtual haven. And we are addicted to it.

Like most things, the consequences of a force such as the internet were completely unpredictable; human inventions often spiral in ways that we can only sit back and watch with furrowed eyebrows, but what has happened recently seems to have shifted the purpose of the invention from progression to amoral capitalism, as marketers use social media platforms to turn you and me into the product.

Which is why I decided to make the transition to being social media-free, starting with Facebook.

Facebook: in recent years it has become extremely controversial, with public attention being stirred up by the film The Social Network in 2010, uncovering some slightly unsettling truths about the foundations of Facebook and its creator(s). In the more recent news, changes in privacy policies in typically bland small-print designed to fly under the radar of the ‘accept’ button have caused great concern, as marketers are being sold YOUR personal information so that they can target their products ineffective, subliminal, and almost Orwellian ways. Not only that, but the current ‘fake news’ scandal has left Facebook an entirely unreliable source of truthful information, leaving ethics out of the question.

Aside from the politics of all of this, let’s consider the social side. We can all agree that it is painfully cringe-worthy to scroll past a certain point in our timeline. Whether it is from the embarrassment of a younger version of ourselves, or because we adapted our usage as we morphed Facebook into what we wanted, the result of the transition is the same, and that is the Facebook we see today. Petty and insignificant details of the lives of people who aren’t really relevant anymore, shock-horror videos designed to divert attention and – once more – make money, and the vain popularity contest of ‘selfies’ and ‘likes’ are the sole contributors to the content of contemporary Facebook, making it an undeniable evil. This is before we have even broached Messenger… Not only are we buying into this brain-rotting platform, we are also removing all aspects of privacy from our life by giving every single ‘friend’ (I use the term loosely) the knowledge of not only when you are online, but whether or not you have read their message and are now obliged by etiquette to respond.

Naturally, Facebook was the first to go for me, leaving no doubt as to whether I wanted to be a part of such a machine – the answer was no. As for other social media platforms, well, I’m not all that negative as you’ll be relieved to hear if you were dreading a slanderous attack on the much-loved Instagram, which I always found to be fairly wholesome. Snapchat, which began as a promising form of instant and fleeting communication, began to rapidly decline with the introduction of the invasive ‘maps’ feature. Only recently did I also discover that there is a function whereby Snapchat send you ‘memories’ AKA snaps that you sent to other people a year or two ago, meaning that what you were lead to believe was a temporary private message between you and a friend is actually saved and held by the lovely folks at Snapchat.

With all of this in mind, and with the knowledge that I exist more naturally in an ‘all or nothing’ state, (taking a temporary break just wasn’t going to cut it) I decided that the time for my participation in social media ought to come to an end. Not that I believe the concept of social media is bad – far from it – but that the way in which it has been done up until now has left us with options that leave much to be desired, morally, socially and spiritually. Until a more ethical, educational and truthful platform emerges, in the shadows of the real world I will stay, hoping that one day we all look up from our phones.

Philip Lowe

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