I have quit social media a few months back. I deleted my accounts on Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp. Initially I felt like I lost connection with everything digital. But everything became normal after a few weeks. One interesting thing I noticed is that when you don’t have Facebook/WhatsApp, you enjoy things more since you never think about taking a photo/video and sharing it in Facebook. Since leaving social media, I have felt better and I think it also helps me to lead a better "intentional" life.
I used to be a fan of social media not long ago. Social media allowed anyone to express their opinion and share it with the whole world. It offered a platform for people to interact and know about each other. But since leaving social media, I noticed how addictive and dangerous social media has become over the years. It appears to me that the dangers of social media and its bad effects outweigh its benefits.
For example, I realize that social media is causing large scale damage to our social, administrative and legal systems. One of the fundamental principles of our legal system is this – "Everyone charged with a crime is presumed to be innocent until proved guilty". Our legal system and our constitution also offers an accused all the rights for defending his innocence in a court of law. Recent events in my country and my home state has demonstrated that both these fundamental rights are in danger simply because there is a large scale social media propaganda against the accused. This is exacerbated by the fact that a lot of new movies now glorify extrajudicial punishments or even murder. This has lead to a scenario where police is under pressure from the social media and then goes on to violate our laws and our constitution.
I also see that a number of people use social media platforms for propagating hatred against others(most are religious in nature). Such relentless propaganda with hatred is bound to affect a lot of people. In many cases, such people have thousands of fans and followers which strangely gives them protection from prosecution.
Recently I watched a movie in a theatre and during the credits it displayed over a dozen "online promotion" partners. These are a large number of companies who specialize in manipulating social media reputation and online ratings of movies. I think very few people realize the extent of the fake news problem. A large number of social media posts that people share again and again are originally posted by people with vested interests. Social media deepens and strengthens the confirmation bias, especially when it comes to young people.
I was member of a small number of selected WhatsApp groups till recently. Most of these groups were created around some shared interests such as "travel" or "residence association". But over time these groups were flooded with gazillion junk videos and images. It turns out that a large number of people blindly forward whatever they get through one group to all other groups! Many of these videos and images were either fake news or of gruesome events such as accidents. More and more small children are exposed to such material since many of them have access to the mobile devices of their parents.
It is a tragedy that for a large number of people, their daily actions are highly influenced by what they want to project on social media. It has a dangerous cascading effect since few are immune to social pressures. People look for social validation and acceptance on social media in the form of likes and shares.
A substantial number of people on Facebook does not post or share anything (they just read stuff) thinking that it will protect their privacy. What they don’t know is the kind of data Facebook has about them!
For me, following are the reasons for quitting social media,
- Avoid exposure to all the junk, fake news and nonsense shared through Facebook/WhatsApp.
- To find out my real friends (very few I realize!).
- Focus more on intentional living without the need for social validation.
- Protect my privacy (yes, I know it won’t work).
Treat your attention as a precious resource!
March 21, 2017 | Posted in Opinion 3 Comments » | By Jayson