For a brief moment in time—roughly 8 hours—Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger (with some other platforms also dropping out for a short time) were all in an outage that seemed like it may never end. And I was loving every minute of it.
For all the good they may do—and make no mistake, they have done some good—these monstrous social media companies have done much more harm. They have turned addictions to dopamine and adrenaline into instruments of financial and personal exploitation.
They monetize hatred, anger, division, and passion and make no apologies about doing so. And when they aren’t using these methods of exploitation, they are selling your personal information to whoever is willing to pay.
Then, when the topic becomes just too controversial, and the highest bidders demand they do so, they have no problem flagging, suppressing, or deleting your content if it doesn’t fit the narrative of the giant corporations funding their astronomical growth. And, if push comes to shove, they will delete your entire account and remove you from the conversation entirely.
A Happier Time vs. a Time in Search of Happiness
My wife and I were actually talking about it this weekend when she harkened back to our childhood, lamenting “wouldn’t it be great if cell phones and social media didn’t even exist?“ I found it very hard to argue.
In many ways, all of the luxuries, amenities, and conveniences we enjoy have become shackles. The biggest problem is that humanity— particularly in the wealthy, developed, first world—has become so dependent that they actually love, appreciate, and cannot imagine living without their shackles.
Living Without Reprioritizes Things
I live along the gulf coast, where power outages and long stretches in relative wilderness by modern standards are fairly routine during hurricane season. In many ways, these brief stints without power—or God forbid, internet—provide a welcome relief from the expectations of immediate responses, the distractions that cause us to miss moments of magic in our midst, and the FOMO of trending topics. The brief tech outages Monday gave me the guilty pleasure of hoping they were permanent.
If me mentioning my brief moment of pleasure at this moment of technical difficulty gives you a visceral discomfort, perhaps you should reevaluate your priorities. Do you place the likes on IG above hugs from your family? Do you value winning an argument on Facebook over the relationship you have with that family member with whom you’re arguing? Really think about these things and make sure your priorities are in the right place.
We’re All We’ve Got
Winter is coming. You will need your family members and your friends and they will need you. Are the arguments over Biden versus Trump really worth it? Are either of these two Washington DC politicians going to help you reframe a wall after a tree takes out the corner of your house? Are they going to pick your kids up from school when you’re late coming home from work? Choose your relationships and how you cultivate them very carefully.
Social media is not the real world. Even the flexing pictures of your favorite “have it all“ influencers are a façade hiding deep pain and anguish in many cases. Don’t do undue damage to your own psyche by giving them value over your own growth and real life connections. Ultimately, you and those closest to you are all that is going to be between you and some very difficult choices.
Make the Most of Your Time and Energy
Build your skills and find people in your inner circle who have skills you may need to call on in times of need. What is already here and what is coming makes this a necessity.
Make the most of the real world around you and take your own social media outages as often and for as long a period as you can. It’s the best path to your ultimate happiness and fulfillment and will make days like Monday roll off your back like water to a duck.