Social Media, Let’s Talk About It

I recently started discovery and exploration practices again, which were long over due. I find myself in a situation where social media has become an everyday thing, whether posting or reading others posts, I open the apps “consistently”. That word, consistent, is something we all celebrate without really thinking about, we have somehow taken it to be a truth of life. If you want to get anywhere, you need to be consistent, is the basic mantra that is spewed everywhere, especially on social media. But is that actually true? Are there other ways to look at this word, and if so, what do we do about it? The purpose of this post, is not to talk about consistency, but to take some free and focused time to challenge my thoughts about social media and see if there is a valid place for it in my life, and if so, what that might look like, and if not, what do I do about it.

There’s some good things to note about consistency. It is a word that reminds us to consider the things we do regularly and a basis for creating habits around things that are serving us and others. When someone we know is not consistent in their actions or words, we lose trust, but why? Consistency is not interchangeable with love, kindness, goodness, or truth, though we act as if it is. We expect people to keep being the same way or saying the same things forever. What if they are completely miserable and have just found ways to show up and dismiss their own life in order to get some kind of trust from us. That’s a pretty dim reality. On the other hand, if we are moving towards things we truly want and need in our lives, consistency can be a great friend. If you want to be a great athlete, artist, musician, scientist, writer, friend, lover, husband/wife, teacher, poet, etc., you are going to have to consistently practice everyday. It is only when we are practicing consistency for the sake of consistency that it seems to be reckless. If I am your friend, I do not want to have to require consistency from you in order to trust you, even to your own demise. Also, when you are consistent, it is very hard to be flexible, spontaneous, and creative. They are kind of at odds with each other as concepts go. Experimentation and new development become increasingly harder the more consistent you become. You get into a rut that needs to be broken up, and the only way to do that is to try something new, which consistency hates. That leads me to my need to shake things up, and breaking free of social media is on the plate. Let’s dive in.

I ask myself, Kimberly, what is social media for you, and is it something you need to be consistent with in order to do whatever you are trying to develop or achieve? The usual rhetoric is that social media is THE tool to help you make connections and advertise, that it “levels the playing field”, that’s it’s a free tool that will help you, and that if you are not using it or not using it consistently you will not get the results you desire. But where do we get this idea from? And is it even correct? Just because a lot of people say something, does not make it true. There’s a novel idea. Since I have no dreams of being a “social media star” or anything of the like, my use of the tool, if any, would be for something else, so what is that something else? There’s a loaded question if I ever heard one.

Attention. Probably. But I am not completely sure, so I need to talk it out. For as many social media advocates that trumpet consistency, there are equally as many who say social media is all about attention. Sometimes they are saying it in a negative way to mean that everyone posting on social is some kind of needy narcissist and others say it in a positive light to mean there is discovery potential because you have peoples attention. We also don’t need to sugar coat that big tech has intentionally designed social media to be addictive. It stands true that the more attention grabbing a piece of content is, the more people it will be pushed out to. To the point that going viral is the main goal for anyone creating social media content. It is even considered to be an asset to some investors to have a high profile media account. And the rest of us have mostly followed suit. We have somehow believed that our thoughts need to be economized and that if our content gets no attention we must be crap. We have deemed millions of likes, comments, and views to equally mean = worthy. So worthy that content creators spend countless hours and money learning and buying tools to create more viral worthy content. We factor it in to our everyday business development practices and goals. I suppose if your dream is to be a social media content creator then learning and money spend is justified, but that is not the dream of most people. And I am not even convinced that being a social media content creator is actually a healthy pursuit for anyone.

As we have noted already, big tech has made social addictive, so if you are creating viral content you are part of the problem aren’t you? I mean, if I willingly work for a tyrant to oppress the people, how am I not like the tyrant? The thing is though, the biggest percentage of people on social are the regular joes either scrolling or swept up in the message that “going viral is good for your brand”. Mainly because for a few, it was. But that’s as useful as trying to be someone else as a way to realize your own potential. It is a slant of the truth. That leads us to think about the idea of going viral itself. If it is so great to go viral and social media is THE way forward, then why do we have so many problems with it. Mental health issues are rampant. People are spending so much time consuming and creating social media content, they are actually ignoring their own lives and families and pursuits of joy. Social media has become their life. That alone should be flagging us to challenge this beast of burden. And so here we are.

If I am going to use social media to “get the word out”, I need to take all of this into account.

That starts with looking at what kind of life I want to pursue. Instead of simply buying into lies, we need to be willing to confront both our dreams and our fears face to face. One of my fears is that if I close all my social media accounts that I will lose the friendships I have built and that I will miss out on opportunities. I also fear my own thoughts for too long, having no feedback has created problems in my life. Just me in my bubble with no one to pierce it or to sharpen my blade on. In many ways, that is the kind of attention I have sought through social media. Perhaps that is one healthy use case. But that begs the question, with all the baggage that comes with social, is it really the way to connect and get the feedback I need. Is it like doing a chore you don’t like in order to get the good things that can be had from it? Or is it an out of control monster you need to flush out of your life? I don’t really see a middle worth discussing. If the monster can be tamed, how do we do it? And is it really worth it to even try? Aren’t there better ways to find worthwhile feedback, connections, and inspiration? Based on what I am aiming towards, is social media in the way or is it helping enough to try to mitigate the damage? It may very well be a problem of serving the wrong god, something a paradigm shift can sort out. Either way, evaluating the relationship is key to moving forward.

Are we high on social media? I am inclined to think of it more like a heroine fix than a fine glass of wine drank by a connoisseur. But I could be wrong. Heroine derivatives are used safely with some regard in the healing of extreme pain. Hospitals are a very normal place to be drugged, nobody is going to have open heart surgery, wide awake. But what does that say? If social is like heroine, are we all in extreme pain? And if so, is social really an environment for healing? Can you use social and not get addicted? In the case that I am wrong, and social can be like a glass of fine wine, and we can be sommeliers, it stands there would be evidence to that effect. So is there? There’s an idea that some people can be social media creators on our behalf. We hire people to do the work for us. But I question this concept because the tech giants do not want that. They design their platforms to be all consuming, they are entirely built on getting and keeping your attention everyday, all day. Their whole business model fails if it’s only paid content creators frequenting the platform. Should I even care if someone is sucked in to an unhealthy structure because I need their undying and consistent attention to push my wares. That is a very good question. If someone has a bad relationship with money, it’s not exactly my problem . . . or at least it doesn’t seem like it is. Of course on the grand scale of things, it is my problem, which makes it also somewhat my responsibility. If for example you live in a neighborhood full of drug addicts, your property value goes down, your family is exposed to harmful situations, diversity is narrowed, your costs for protection go up, and so on. If you don’t do something about it, you’ll lose everything worth having.

Could there be a platform that uses the helpful tools of the internet, and leaves out the dangerous substances? That is the crossroads I stand at today. Social media is like the hot spot for cartel activity, and I am stepping out to join and create a better environment for myself and my people. People like you. People with hopes and dreams who know we can do better — that it is our responsibility to do better.

Having entered into the indie web world of things, I am starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel. This blog is part of that journey.

New beginnings are hard, but what’s harder, is living a life you are not proud of.

Kimberly

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