Enough! Invisible chains of social media

Is Social Media Bad For Mental Health - addictive

Hello everyone, welcome to my blog! Please don’t forget to like my posts, subscribe, share with your friends, retweet, comment, follow, click on the link, swipe up… ENOUGH!! I am sick of people asking me to do something on social media. WE KNOW right? Don’t keep pressuring us to do something, there is already more than enough pressure on our lives. We have heard it so many times already and we don’t need to keep hearing it again.

Side note: Social media has messed up with our attention so much that we can’t read a long text anymore. But remember: this post is a protest against them.

Do you remember the time when you were young and your family would tell you to do something you already know, and that would piss you off? I do. Most teenagers rebel against their families not to obey their orders, and that is perfectly normal. It is a natural process of becoming an individual. But we, who didn’t allow even our families to give us orders, how are we allowing total strangers on the internet to tell us what to do ALL THE TIME ??

Some pages go even further to claim that every like helps “their” good purpose. You must have at least heard a phrase in the lines of “Click on like to help the environment! “, “Share on your story to save a dog! “, “Like to show your love & support to **insert something generic in need**” etc. I am sorry but those likes or shares do not help anything. You might think you’re raising awareness, that is causing counter effects. This might sound shocking, but the more social shares/likes people do, the fewer donations or charity work they tend to make. There is even a term for this called slacktivism.

But at least they care about the environment right? Nope. Not really.

Social Media is bad toxic addictive questions
The most common searches with “Social media is” in the USA as of June 2021.

Even though some brands may seem they care about the environment, don’t forget that they are still companies.  Unless they are a non-profit*, their only goal is to make as much as money possible. And I am sorry to tell you that environmental topics are very profitable. Since it is a sensitive topic, people (you, me, all the consumers) give more attention to those kinds of posts. But that is exactly what brands are looking for: Our attention. That’s why they don’t hesitate to show themselves environment friendly on social media to get more customers, indirectly.

This is mostly true for the influencers as well. Even if they are not as big as those brands, the same money-attention flow is working for them. Influencers also have their companies, making money advertising stuff, and paying taxes. They might choose a less environmentally harmful product to promote to their followers, but still, it is the money they are after. Even if sometimes they hide that they’re getting paid for that promotion as well.

A basic rule of thumb in marketing: The more emotions you activate, the more attention you will receive. And of course, more attention means more money. But this great scale of influence (I would like to call it emotional manipulation) comes with a huge cost. Of course not to the brands, but to the society.

* Even if they are a non-profit you should be careful, but that’s a whole another topic.

How does social media influence people?

It is so obvious that it is hidden in plain sight. Once you have somebody’s attention, you can make them see (or not see) anything you want. If you feel like you are an attentive person, you can watch this Monkey Business Illusion to find out (and get back to reading this if YouTube allows you to).

But if you have selected to give your attention to social media, then you are at their mercy. Consciously or unconsciously you will be exposed to some ideas, that are not even your own. While it is not wrong to see different points of view, if you do not stop and think about it for a second it is no different than brainwashing.

Wait that’s not how brainwashing works! Right?

Think about it: A constant stream of short videos on Instagram, an infinite number of video suggestions on Youtube, an endless timeline on Facebook, none of them are designed to make you think for a second. On the contrary, they are designed to make you NOT THINK but just continue giving your attention to that platform. With this kind of power, these platforms can change your ideas, style, what to do, what to say, and even who to vote for. If you have any suspicion on this just search the Cambridge Analytica scandal and find out how Facebook was successfully used to make Donald Trump the president of the USA in 2016.

*I didn’t realize by the time I was writing this but all of these are true for television as well.

So after spending hours and hours watching content on social media created by other people/companies and serviced to you by specifically designed algorithms; can you answer me one very important question:

Are your decisions actually your own? Or are they imposed to you by social media?

We are on our phones every awake free minute of the day:

  • First thing in the morning: checking out the notifications.
  • On the way to work/school: scrolling social media.
  • During breakfast, lunch, dinner: a quick look at social media/youtube/netflix.
  • Waiting for a bus, in the bathroom, before sleeping, during a coffee break…

Most phones have an app tracking system. Just check out how many hours a day you’re using your phone and which applications. I’m sure you’ll be surprised. We’re giving all of our attention to some things online

If we are spending every free minute of the day on social media, when can we make decisions in our lives? It is very hard to focus on a thought when we are bombarded with attention-seeking posts. So, let’s think about:

How many minutes a day are we actually thinking?

How to think in the age of Social Media

This may sound stupid and you may say “Hey Emre, I’m thinking like, all the time??”. But are you really? Or are you just giving a reaction to what you are shown?

We distinguish ourselves from other animals with our minds. Descartes questioned everything he is and concluded that thinking is what makes his true identity. Only a couple of centuries after Descartes scientists decided that we are “Homo sapiens”, which literally means “Wise human”. But let me ask another question: if we stop thinking, or even reduce our amount of thinking, then what are we evolving into?

Allow yourself to think. Disconnect from the internet & TV for a second. Let your brain process, filter, and throw away all the garbage it was exposed to. That is why this post is full of questions. I would like to make you think as much as possible.

Some questions that I ask myself to get a clear mind before making a decision/buying something:

  1. Is this really my decision?
  2. Do I really want it, or I feel like it would make me look good?
  3. Will it make me happier?
  4. Am I willing to work (x) hours to buy this thing?
  5. Is this really a decision or an emotional urge (before buying something usually).
  6. Do I really want to go out with them, or do I just don’t want to say no?
  7. “Everybody does”, doesn’t mean I also have to.

You get the point.

But WHY is social media so addictive?

Why is anything addictive? Makes us feel good for a moment and that’s it. The number of likes we receive makes us feel loved. The number of views to our stories/videos gives us the attention we crave. So we keep coming back to feel good for another moment, and another…

On top of this, we don’t want to be disconnected from society. When we don’t watch what other people are doing, we feel like missing out on something. That’s when the FOMO kicks in to bring us back to the platform.

FOMO: Fearing of Missing Out.

Did you ever find yourself in the middle of the night scrolling your friends’ posts on social media where they seem to be having fun, enjoying their drinks, or visiting different places, while you are having difficult times and feeling depressed? Didn’t it bother you more when your friends are enjoying their life while you suffer? Of course, it does. That’s the FOMO. Or as I would like to call it, EHEM: Everybody is happy except me.

The thing is, everybody is not happy. All lives have ups and downs, and everybody shares only the ups on social media hiding the downs. If you keep looking at the best moments of other people’s lives, of course, you will feel like shit, knowing the troubles you are in. But remember that they too have troubles and suffering in their lives, maybe even more than yours!

So instead of focusing on other lives and giving yourself even more anxiety, let’s discuss how to improve our mental health. 

How to improve your mental health?

Take a look at the list of questions I shared above to help you make decisions. A common point they have is YOU. How you feel, think, and what you want. The same is true for happiness. The more you focus on yourself the happier you become. This may sound selfish but if you don’t give yourself importance, nobody will. Putting others before yourself is not a good thing. First, you need to be happy so you can make others happy as well.

To be happy, be productive!

Produce something. A picture, some music, a new project, a book, whatever that you would like put your creativity into. It doesn’t have to be perfect, doesn’t have to be liked by others. There is no need to make it fit in any standard or form. It will be something brand new you create. A piece from your soul will be out in the universe. You could keep it as a memory for your life, or you could gift it to someone important to you. Anything at all.

An example of this is in front of your eyes: This blog, this post, is me trying to be productive with my life. I have put my time, my concentration, pieces of my mind & soul onto this website to be productive. It is not for making money, it is not for being liked or anything else. This is only something that makes me happy & alive. So I do it. No further explanation is necessary.

Mindfulness makes you happier

Actually, the things I have explained so far have been related to mindfulness. Consciously bringing your mind to the moment without thinking about any judgment from anyone. There are many methods & techniques to do that. Mindfulness meditation is one example that is proven to help mental AND physical health. I have tried mindfulness meditation a couple of times and I can vouch for its effectiveness.

Relax. I mean, just chill a little

Remember, a long time ago, at the beginning of this post I said that I am sick of people telling me what to do? Yep, that’s it. When people keep telling us what to do, how to behave and etc. we feel constant pressure on our shoulders. So, once in a while, just say fuck it. Just relax, don’t give a damn about what people want you to do, don’t care what they think “you should do” with your life…

Most things are not as important as you think they are.

I used to think the exams I took in school were very important. The education system made us believe the grades are the only important thing in life and the rest is not important. But when I look back right now, they weren’t important at all. The grades were just a small part of my education and even a smaller part of my life overall. But at that moment it wasn’t easy to see that, so I couldn’t. So, fast-forwarding to now: How can I say the things I deem “very important” for my life will be important in a year? How about in 5 years? Probably won’t be that important, and I will regret every moment I stressed myself.

Further reading suggestion

On this topic, I would suggest the book called The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson which he gives his own point of view, and it helped me a lot.

So, if you like this post please don’t forget to like share… I’m kiddingg… Do whatever you like 🙂

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Enough! Invisible chains of social media
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Enough! Invisible chains of social media
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Social media is playing with our mental health we as a society are paying the price.
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