Addictions run in my family, so when I told my sister I have a social media addiction issue, she just laughed. My son and daughter-in-law said (and I thought initially that they were joking), “We knew that. We’ve known that for a long time.” How long? And why didn’t anyone tell me?
Why am I even having this conversation with you, a bunch of people that I don’t even know? Because I need to convey what I’ve learned. Not to change minds, not to hold myself up, or down, based on my newfound knowledge. But because I watched Netflix’s new documentary The Social Dilemma.
And it really spoke to me, in complicated, reality-bending ways that I needed to hear.
Do me a favor, Google Social Dilemma and see what pops up. There are raves and rages regarding the subject of social media and the way it has over it’s millions of users (thought, as one person says there’s only two spaces to refer to humans as users – the drug industry and social medial – something to keep in mind). The documentary argues that social media has been hijacked by Big Business, and there is a constant flow of money among the BBs for what is for sale – ideas and ideologies. The disconcerting reality, is we are not part of the players in those sales – we are the products. What we like, what we don’t like, how we react, how long we stay on a picture, who we follow, those are all cues to how we can be used to finance those ideas and ideologies that BB sells to other BBs. According to Jeron Lanier, a writer and early player in the creation of what we now know as social media, “We know that social media has been successfully deployed to disrupt societies, and we know that the price to do so is remarkably low. We know that relevant companies take in an astounding amount of money and that they don’t always know who their customers are” (Jaron Lanier, Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now, p. 22, Nook Book).
The fact that we are being manipulated ungrounds us from who we thought we were to who we may be becoming. We begin to wonder who we are, what we believe, what are we willing to fight for, and to what extent. How far are we willing to go be someone else’s pawn in a game that we don’t even know exists? As one person in the documentary says, “How do you get out of the matrix, when you don’t even know you’re in it?” But getting out is key to mental and physical health, according to the website Spirituality, which argues that , “When we experience joy our entire chemical profile is completely reversed. When you leave the Matrix, you realize that all biochemistry takes place within consciousness; each cell is fully aware of what you think. Once you understand this fact, all the illusion that “you are a victim of circumstances” dissipates.
That is me, look for my reality. So, I’ve taken a one month “vow of silence” to reconnect with myself, my ideas, my values, to become clear in the things I want to say, why they are important to me, and why I think you, my readers, should at least consider them. I’m tired of reacting; I want interaction.
I’m five days in to my Facebook (FB) silence (with the exception of my author’s page), and this is what has transpired:
- At first there is a constant wonder what people are talking about, what they’re saying.
- There is the constant thumb hovering over the FB icon, that shortcut to answering those questions.
- There is the awareness I can never be a person who takes a vow of silence; there’s too much to say – but then that’s probably the issues, isn’t it?
- There are times I find that I have accidently opened the app, but shut it down before I can read anything.
- There are people who reach out to me and say, “I miss your voice; you talked about important things that impacted me directly!”
- When I read the paper, or watch a series, and my attention is captured by an idea, a phrase, a collection of words that form a definition of my values, the first place I want to go is FB, to share those nuggets, precious and soft as gold, but I can’t; I need to find other avenues. This is one.
- I find I sleep better at night.
- I don’t get angry over stuff people say.
- I no longer take things personally, like the 20-something girl who told me, on my page, to STFU and stop telling her what to do. At the time I took it very personally. With space, I realize she, through the power of social media, marketing and other pressures, has come to believe that whatever she says, she has a right to say. Which is true – but there are consequences to everything. There will always be consequences. But she, like so many others will feel them, if not now, at some point in their future. I guess it’s a learning thing.
- You can repeat words that you’ve heard from the pundits, the President, his staff, your pastor because they somehow resonate with you. But repeating them, and owning them, stating with an awareness that those are YOUR words, are two different things. To figure out if you truly believe them? Try reforming them into your own words and listen to how they sound.
Like anything, FB is not all evil, nor is it all good. The good things is it does allow countries in the midst of political crises get the word out about their circumstances. The bad thing? It creates a revenue source for all kinds of unscrupulous people and groups to prey upon that human connection.
So, I will take the vow of silence until October 16, and then I will once more join the conversations. On my terms, speaking truth to power, and owning those words.