Making peace with social media & January media journal
Early warning, this isn’t a post about how I turned my life around by quitting social media. I won’t try to convince you that social media is the root of all our anxieties, how it’s ruining social relations and dumbing down kids, how the algorithm is moulding your preferences, showing you a narrow view of the world, keeping you in constant state of outrage, feeding the insatiable thirst for gratification and social validation. You probably already know this.
Neither is it about #selfcare and ways to reduce stress in your life by quitting social media. I think, while well-intended, these sorts of posts very often end up adding to our list of unrealistic expactations of what we should do & be.
This is simply about how I got bored of social media and why 2019 might be the year limiting social media becomes more than a hipster New Year resolution.
For some time now, I felt I wanted to control my social media habits. Too often, I found myself anxious about the time I mindlessly scroll Instagram or check my phone, unable to concentrate on one task for more than a few minutes. A few, timely events led me to the point where I simply lost interest in social media.
In November 2018 just before my boyfriend and I were to go on a trip to Argentina, he fell ill. It wasn’t life threatening but extremely stressful, debilitating enough to stop us from going to Argentina and left him in tremendous amount of pain for about 2 weeks. I stayed home with him for a few days as we were both faced with a very different reality to our normal lives. My boyfriend was bed bound and unable to move unassisted.
We knew it would take at least a couple of weeks for him to get better. Life for that short period became about healing and looking after one another, knowing well we couldn’t speed up the process.
It was in that time that I deactivated my social media accounts. Rather than some well thought-out statement, it was an instinct.
Somehow, I knew that for the next few days, I’d have all the time in the world to mindlessly browse instagram, while my boyfriend was in bed, off his face on Tramadol. And that thought terrified me. I could easily imagine the feeling of anxiety and hopelessness setting in for both of us.
And so I deleted instagram and facebook of my phone. Next few days, while undoubtedly difficult, were wonderfully bonding. It was a ‘pause’ button we wouldn’t otherwise press. Turns out that the physicality of pain is extremely grounding.
Now, had I not deleted social media of my phone, my experience, would probably have been very different. It was just too easy to feel completely defeated in that situation.
Then, Christmas came about and I wanted to spend time with my family, whom I don’t see very often. I stayed off social media and felt gratified by being able to offer my full attention to the loved ones and enjoy their company without distraction.
After Christmas, I had a few days off before going back to work. Without any particular pressure to achieve anything; I read books, listened to podcasts and watched a couple of documentaries (check out my list below).
I felt nourished, inspired and energised. It wasn’t life transforming, it simply felt right.
I wasn’t motivated by pursuit of productivity or using every minute of my day in the best way possible. It was simply about doing things I enjoy, which leave me with a long lasting sense of gratification.
I realised that I just got bored with feeding my brain with bullshit content and that social media in great majority is really quite dull. I honestly, don’t think it’s all insidious. Professionally, it’s a great source of social observation and trend spotting. Personally, there are nuggets of joy and inspiration among the people I follow.
However, I have finite sources of attention and brain space and right now, social media is an equivalent of a kilo clothes sale. Sure, there are some gems out there but you have to buy and sieve through kilos of crap to find them. And right now, I’d rather not.
So here’s to a great 2019 and adding meaning to our lives, in whatever shape it comes.
Also, I’m starting to document all media I consume and I’ll be sharing the ones worth engaging with.
Here’s my January Media Journal:
The Ezra Kein Show: Jaron Lanier’s case for deleting social media
Jaron Lanier is a computer scientist, one of the founders of virtual reality. He played an instrumental role in creating www as we know it and has been part of Silicon Valley’s fabric. He gained mainstream media attention after his criticism of social media and exposing mechanisms that keep us isolated, angry and anxious. I haven’t read his book ‘Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Right Now’ but this talk with Ezra Klein is a great and engaging summary of many of Jaron’s main arguments.
The Ezra Klein Show How Technology is bringing out the worst in us, with Tristan Harris
Tristan Harris spent a few years working for Google as a design ethicists, developing a framework for how technology should ethically steer the thoughts and actions of billions of people from screens. After becoming disillusioned with the ‘attention-economy’, he founded The Center for Humane Technology and co-founded the Time Well Spent movement. He is advocating for design frameworks, policies and technology standards to protect our minds from unregulated use of persuasion in the tech world.
Under the Skin with Russel Brand: #020 Selfie-Obsession: Can Narcissim Ever Make us Happy? With Will Storr
We seemed to have reached the peak of individualism. Looking at the history of mankind, it’s a huge deviation from our original, tribal selves. Rusell Brand talks to Will Storr about the rise of self-esteem industry and why cultivating high self-esteem may not be the answer to all our problems.
University of Oxford Future Makers: Are all algorithms biased?
A great series exploring AI and its impact on shaping our future. In this episode Peter Millican, Philosophy lecturer at the University of Oxford, discusses the use of AI in decision making. Could AI help us make better, more ethical decisions? What is the risk of replicating or even amplifying the biases present in our word today?
Absolutely fascinating, 4 part documentary exploring the development and changing attitudes to ‘self’. From Freud inspired theory of irrational masses that needed to controlled, Nazi German ‘service, not self’ slogans and to the rise of self-help movement that sought out to free us from mental constraints instilled by politics and corporation. It’s an absolute must-watch.
Black Mirror Bandersnatch on Netflix
Charlie Booker’s interactive, non-linear film about young video game developers in the 80s (?). It has 5 (or maybe 6) potential endings. It’s guaranteed to fuck with your brain. Unsettling, thought provoking and all in all pretty genius.
Mowgli on Netflix
Cause it’s not all bout mind expanding content. It’s not going to change your life but it’s an interesting take on the tamed Disney original.
‘Inni Ludzie’ by Dorota Maslowska
Born in 1983, Dorota is the enfant-terrible of Polish literature. Wildly talented and scandalous author of the young generation. In Inni Ludzie, she blends genres, showcasing her word-smithery and ability to distill the world around her into archetypal characters. It’s funny and tragic and written like nothing I’ve ever read before. Sadly, for Polish speakers only (for now).
It’s hilarious and actually a really useful summary of what happened in politics and culture in 2018.
Got unwanted gifts or surplus food after Christmas/ New Year’s Eve Party? Olio connects neighbours and local shops so surplus food & other household items can be shared. It’s a little strange but in a good way (we had a guy turn up to collect 3 bags of easy peelers at 11:30pm on a Sunday night) but you can choose when & how people collect the items.
Bristol based illustrator who creates amazing, relatable art. I was introduced to her via Society Cafe in Bath aka the number one spot for coffee and working away from the office.