June 13

You Are Addicted to Social Media

We need the water of stillness with which to nourish our creative selves. Repeatedly artist, writers, scientists, and philosophers have written of this need, not only for this process of creating but within the work itself. - Anne De Le Claire

The value of silence in a world full of noise is underrated. We need to be able to hear and listen to the expression of our soul's calling. But drowned out by the cacophony of status updates, text messages, and selfies, we lose touch with ourselves. We lose access to the depths of who we are and the capacity for the kind of reflection and solitude that allows us to create beautiful art and come up with groundbreaking ideas.

When was the last time you went a day or better yet an hour without checking Facebook or updating your status?*

When was the last time you didn't just play this digital game of mad libs where you fill in the blank with whatever attention-seeking thought just crosses your mind?*

When was the last time you were so immersed in an experience or moment that you didn't have any need or desire to upload it to Instagram?

In losing our capacity for solitude, we lose our creativity, our humanity and so much more.

I see this in my community, I see it in my friends and I see it in myself.

What exactly is so important in the lives of strangers on the internet that broadcasting to them is more important than connecting with the person in front of you?

If you're honest, that picture you're about to upload, that status update you're about to write is optional. You're putting the currency of your attention into a slot machine, pulling the lever and hoping it comes back with more likes, more hearts, and more emjois. You're sacrificing your time with the person in front of you to be validated by people you've never met.

Suffering from depression, quit social media.

Stuck in a trap of envy and comparison, quit social media.

Can't get shit done on your most important work, quit social media.

This social currency is worthless. Last I checked you can't pay your bills with Facebook likes or hearts on Instagram. You're not a reality TV star, so why do you live like one?

We rush through our lives, treating every interaction as a meeting, or item on a to-do list, one more person to swipe right on, meet and discard.

I was having dinner with my parents and two of their close friends. I asked how often they see each other in person: twice a week. And they talk every day.

My mom and her friend will call each other if they don't hear from one another.

Pam Slim and Desiree Adaway talk every day.

Meanwhile, the high school kids in Starbucks are texting each other from the same room. WTF?

My friend's daughter ate shit in a puddle in front of her school when he dropped her off one morning. This was after my attempt to convince her of the virtues of digital minimalism.

I don't see anyone twice a week. People don't respond to text messages for days at a time. Nobody I know picks up their phone if you call them. They're all "really busy."

I see a friend to play NBA 2k19. What does it say about us as people that we'll update our fucking status multiple times a day but we don't put nearly as much importance as seeing each other in person multiple times a week?

I'd rather hear your voice than get a text message. I'd rather see you face to face than through the window of your Instagram feed. It's one of the big reasons we're banning smartphones and laptops at our event in April. We want to create an environment where people connect, not add each other as "friends."

One of my listeners set me up on a date with her friend that didn't go well. A YEAR later she sent me an Instagram message asking if I wanted some feedback... When I mentioned the year later part she said: "you know life gets in the way." A year. Think about that. What does it matter a year later?

But maybe it's not life that's in the way. Maybe it's that we need to become get more connected to our humanity and less connected from our devices.

I suggested the idea of a book club to the people in a Facebook group. Nobody was interested. But dozens of people kept posting in the group throughout the day.

Because it doesn't carry the social stigma or being addicted to heroin or cigarettes, our social media addiction is considered acceptable behavior. But what if you lit up a cigarette as many times as you pick up your phone when talking to someone? How well do you think that interaction would go?

Every generation thinks that the one that comes after them is going to hell. But, for the first time, this is something that has validity.

Digital natives avoid face to face conversation, attempt to resolve conflicts via text, and treat digital interactions as a substitute for human contact. Not only that, no other generation has had similar access to technology that manipulates behavior while their brains are still developing.

Sure the MTV generation might have turned into a bunch of rebels and misfits. But that's different than people losing the ability to have a conversation with another human. It's the first generation that's at the risk of losing their humanity.

The all you can eat buffet of information provided by the internet has turned an entire generation into "digital fat kids" and the cognitive equivalent of an athletes who smoke.

Some people argue that we will adapt and evolve to a world filled with selfies, status updates, and swiping right on the people you would fuck. But, there's a more important question we have to ask.

Is this how we want to evolve? Is this a reflection of what we value as a society?

When we begin the quantify the value of our lives in the digital currency of hearts and likes, that's the beginning of the end.

Walk through the world. Whether you're at the library, airport, or in line at the grocery store, people have been transported to the world within their phone and disconnected from the world around them.

Do we really want to live in a world where people can't look each other in the eyes, resolve conflict face to face, and realize that there's a human on the other end of every digital interaction? The long term consequences of will be dystopian at best, detrimental to society at worst.

Unlike heroin addicts, social media addicts aren't shooting up, lying on the street. While they don't have the appearance of a typical junkie, they have most of the symptoms. Try spending an hour without your phone. If you experience any withdrawal symptoms, that's the digital equivalent of addiction.

If you're reading this, ask yourself one question. Were you planning to be on Facebook at this moment? If not, then it's not much different than a cigarette break. You're addicted. It's not like smokers schedule cigarette breaks on their Google calendar. It's a compulsive behavior that happens automatically.

This addiction is costing you. It's costing you progress on your goals, and connection with the people in your life. It's costing you happiness and well being. Is that a price worth paying for validation and attention that masquerades a connection and affection?

Quit. You might be surprised by how little you're missing. 


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