Thursday, November 15, 2018

Trying to imagine life without social media

Can we rein in this unleashed juggernaut? Is our behavior forever altered with this technology?

I tried to recall life without social media. Wasn’t it just a few years ago when I walked around without a portable device strapped to my waist, a device willing to announce my every grunt, burp and fart to the external world, if I only let it?

Without social media, my concentration would improve, that much I am sure. I would not be constantly interrupting my daily chores to go check that infernal device for the latest chat or inspirational message. My self esteem would mature for I would not have those “likes” to prop me up but would have to “like” myself instead. I could spend many hours with just me and my thoughts and reap the inspiration that comes from a stilled mind. I would not suffer from “too much information,” a syndrome that makes you skim the surface of everything, just to cope, and miss some of the major issues in the process. I will get to talk to people instead of sending them written messages even when they are in the next room. Friendships will be few but more lasting and not something to be activated and deactivated with the push of a button.

On the other hand, I wouldn’t be “famous but poor” anymore. Instead, I would be “unknown and still poor.” I wouldn’t get to play closet politician anymore for my audience will have disappeared. I’ll have to stand up in my little room and declaim, to myself. Or join a political party and schmooze my way to the top over a number of years, not in mere days that it took me in the social media world. I would not have a test market for my writing. I would not be connected to the pulse of my peers, forever unplugged from their thoughts, drives, fetishes and joys. I would not be let into their living rooms, introduced to their families, invited as a virtual guest to their parties, or exposed to their embarrassing moments when they suffered mental or wardrobe malfunction and decided to share (or bare) all via the instant photos uploaded to my “stream.” Yes, I would have to kiss goodbye to my voyeuristic but engaged life.

Someone recently told me that “there is no going back.” We seem to have crossed a threshold into a new pattern of social behavior that is irreversible. And I am not sure we are unique in that respect. Did people go back on their old habits when new inventions collided with their social lives in the past: the telephone, the TV, the car, the supermarket, the microwave, and canned food? Digitization and sharing has now replaced the communal life of the village where everybody knows everything about everyone else. Even the anonymity of cities—something I used to love to escape to occasionally—is breaking down under the new rules of conduct, where city dwellers cooped up in glass towers and matchbox condos, ostensibly isolated, are connecting with each other like never before.

Okay, so there is no going back, we are the social media generation, suck it up and get on with it. But there needs to be some “information firewall behavior” called for; the confidence to switch on and off when needed, without the pressure to be “always on” in order to be relevant, despite Facebook and Twitter sending you those “How are you doing?” messages when you are minding your own business, or Klout warning you that your score is dropping because you have been silent for awhile. Taking social media-less vacations is a good idea, and retreats from “always on” to just read a book is also good for the soul. And most importantly, selfishly carving out time for contemplation and meditation is paramount.

Okay, now that I’ve got that off my chest, where did leave my Blackberry…? There really is no going back, is there?

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Shane Joseph is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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5 comments on Trying to imagine life without social media

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By melanie jean juneau on February 03, 2013 at 08:01 pm

You are an articulate, sane, intelligent voice speaking out against the tryanny of technology( Big Brother??) You are ot a puppet of it or of public pressure which is based on insecurity

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By Shane Joseph on February 03, 2013 at 08:14 pm

thanks mon9! more than tyranny this is evolution and sometimes we evolve towards extinction and rebirth. i am not sure where this technological development is leading us but we are certainly behaving differently than we were 10 years ago

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By melanie jean juneau on February 04, 2013 at 01:14 pm

really interesting insights

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By Christopher Gibson on February 14, 2013 at 04:14 pm

Social media will be the beginning of the downfall of civilization. (Don't listen to me, I'm a conspiracy theorist at heart).

I personally don't do social media (no facebook, twitter, linked in, etc.) aside from a blog I update like once a year and this account here I use when I get a creative itch.

I feel that when used responsibly social media can be a boon to society, i.e. the fast dissemination of important news, but most people use it with little thought of the consequences of their actions, and come off looking like idiots in the process.

I believe it's better to sit quietly and let people think you're an idiot, than to open your mouth and prove them right.

Sorry for the rant. Nice article.

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By Shane Joseph on February 15, 2013 at 10:02 am

Thanks for the rant, Christopher. Yes, we don't seem to know where this social media is taking us, although it certainly is altering our behaviour and changing how we allocate our waking hours in the day. I am hoping that after awhile, the early adopters will gain wisdom and integrate it into their lives in a positive way, much like when the Internet first burst upon us.


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