I quit social media as the title suggests. There was no note or post about why or who – I just gathered the phone numbers of those important and deleted it. I’ve been on both Facebook and Instagram for over a decade and I don’t know why I assumed that I’d miss it. I still have social connections, I still know when people’s birthdays are, and I can do it all without seeing mountains of uninformed reckons and opinions. In the echo chamber, I found myself existing in a drone state of buying more and more arty design products and falling down random clickbait rabbit holes, hearing opinions I wanted to hear, meticulously crafted for my targeted demographic. The irony is you will find people arguing with all they have that everything is fake news but the repost they shared about some random anonymous strawman must be true. No one is above this, not even I, with my subscription to both Vice News and LadBible proving that sensationalism works on even someone who preaches moderation.
Here’s the truth: it’s all fake. A cyber reality dictated by click ratios and carefully curated images to elicit purchase or ad viewership. I have ads enabled on this site right now – how many, I wonder, are targeted? When I visit to preview the settings, all I see are lawnmower ads not that I have grass to mow.
“Accustom yourself not to be disregarding of what someone else has to say: as far as possible enter the mind of the speaker.” – Meditations 6.53
In such a time of Ancient Rome, I suppose this would have been sound advice yet today that is more complex. When entering the mind of another through the platform of social media, what mind is there? A teacher I know said: “Lady Macbeth is not real, she is a puppet.” We call programmed ones bots, but the live performances, the personas of our profiles: more puppetry.
In an understandably human need for connection we have disconnected from what it is that makes us human, ironing out imperfections and scrutinizing any we see. I am guilty of this. I am not even a month into closing my accounts where I would inwardly scoff at the flaws of myself and others. Filters in principle, work just the same whether they are applied to a selfie or a scathing comment about Bill Burr.
“Look then at what is happening now. Only the intelligent creatures have now forgotten that urge to be unified with each other: only here will you see no confluence.” – Meditations 9.9.3
By coming together like we have, we have allowed ourselves to be broken apart: separated by invisible walls of the echo chambers designed to keep us easily marketed to. I wonder if the algorithms designed were ever intended to be so nefarious. It seems they were programmed to specifically spread fire and misguided passions and pride. From cancel culture to the rise of internet celebrity, bollocks we should feel indifferent about is injected straight into our brains. In media it’s called the Hypodermic Needle Theory just for that reason: you must care about Addison Rae and her boyfriend; you must care about James Charles; you must care about Jeffree Star ‘slamming’ internet trolls; you must care about what the cast of Love Island 2017 are up to now!
It’s the perpetuation of fame for fame’s sake. Even on the micro scale with Joe Blogs – for example – down the street becoming upset that no one liked his picture of the petunias in his front garden. Or Karen Smith telling the entire local community board to boycott a particular business because they are unable to cater for a very niche condition of some sorts. Perhaps even to some extent, this blog that I’m writing on now is guilty of this, yet I would defend that by saying that I have no expectations further than venting thoughts and reflections. Adding adverts is a nice bonus, I suppose.
Yet, despite my disdain, I shouldn’t judge too harshly if at all. Nor should anyone. We can teach or tolerate, as I’ve surely quoted before.
“Take your joy in simplicity, in integrity, in indifference to all that lies between virtue and vice.” – Meditations 7.31