In 2007, I abandoned something called MySpace for something called Facebook. I didn’t quite get it at first. But, all of my friends were migrating to it, and it seemed like the place to be. So, I logged in every other night, to get accustomed to it. Whenever time permitted, really. Whenever I had Internet access.
You see, kids, back then, the Internet wasn’t conveniently accessible like it is today. I didn’t carry it in my pocket until around 2010. Until then, I had to use a physical computer that plugged into a wall. That was my only passage to cyberspace.
To take advantage of Facebook’s purpose – to connect with friends – meant that I had to put myself out there. I had to share my “status.” I was a little skeptical about that, perhaps even a bit shy… I was a private person on the edge of exposure. But, I used the Internet to conquer boredom, so…
Statuses back then were actually pretty lame. Before it asked you, “what’s on your mind,” I had to complete the sentence, “Mike is __________.” I would say things like, “Mike is watching Star Wars for the one billionth time.” Or, “Mike is heading home from work and really needs a beer.” Or, “Mike is chillin’ like a villain.” This was the bait on the hook, so to speak.
Eventually, another bored soul would see your lame status on the “newsfeed.” They might give you a “thumbs up,” or make a comment, or both, or they might even ignore you.
Over the years, more friends – and even family members – boarded the Facebook train. The platform evolved. The engineers made subtle alterations to the layout, which many of us noticed, and were pissed off. But, that gave us something to complain about via status updates. I eventually noticed tiny advertisements that “coincidentally” catered to my interests. And then, those “likes” – the infamous thumbs up i-con – expanded with additional options. Emoticons. A heart; a laughing face; a crying face; an angry face… As the social media platform evolved, so did our mobile phones.
Today, a mobile phone is first and foremost a computer and a camera.
Did you know?
– The average smartphone user checks their phone 150 times per day!
– Millennials use it over 5-hours per day!
– Generation X-ers (my generation) use it more than 5-hours per day!
That’s a lot of lost time!!!
Like zombies, they/we/you roam the land of the living with heads down. Staring into that small, glowing screen, like a moth making sweet, tender love to a bright, white light. We are the Walking Dead!
Everybody feels an urge to post the most mundane things, with the occasional proud achievement. They need to post. They need to share and comment on a regular basis. Like a crack junkie, they need their fix! They need their “likes!”
Social media – Facebook, in this example – is no different than a slot machine. It’s designed to keep you glued to the screen, to nurture your addiction.
You know why?
Because, that’s what it’s supposed to do!
That’s how the people behind-the-scenes get paid!
It’s constantly being designed to get you to stay logged in longer; to click more; to share more; to post more… All of this, so they can provide content for their advertising platform.
They know when you are sleeping. They know when you’re awake. They know if you’ve been bad or good… But, seriously, they know what you search for on the inter-webs, even when you’re closed out of the site. Algorithms!
It’s a business.
They are profiting.
You are not.
You are losing.
What are you losing?
You are losing approximately 76-days of your life, per year. That’s based on the recent statistics I listed earlier. That’s 5-hours per day multiplied by 365-days per year. That equals 1,825-hours, which translates to 76-days!
To be fair, that statistic is based on the amount of time you spend on your phone itself – not necessarily specific to Social Media use. But, let’s face it, it’s all social media! You’re being social. You’re using media.
Texting or messaging; taking and sharing selfies…
So, yeah, you probably spend 76 consecutive days worth of smartphone use – per year. If you’d like to challenge yourself on that statistic, download an app called Moment. It tracks the amount of time you spend on your phone.
This past June, I decided to wean off Facebook.
Why just Facebook? Why not Twitter and Instagram, too?
Because, Facebook is the leading drug – so to speak – whereas, for me, Twitter and Instagram aren’t as addictive. They could be, but I don’t allow them to be. I also use those other platforms as an extension for this website. Therefore, they are used with intention – nowadays, anyway. But, the reason I call Facebook a drug, is because it’s designed to give you a dopamine high. It’s the most addictive, in my opinion, and it rewires your brain. It also messes with your emotions.
What I do like about Facebook is the event pages, the groups, and the messenger applications. So, when I said I “weaned off,” what I meant was, I quit participating in status updates and reading that overwhelming, never-ending newsfeed. I kept my Facebook profile for everything else – but, only for a short while.
Why quit posting “status updates” and avoid the newsfeed?
Well, I had a few reasons . . .
It can cause Anxiety, Stress, and Depression.
I had an ex-girlfriend that was originally – and still is – a friend of my current girlfriend, her sister, and some other mutual friends. So, seeing her appear every now and then, caused me a great deal of unnecessary anxiety. Before she and I jumped into our whirlwind relationship, she was first a friend of mine. Someone I really started to connect with. But, we took it too far, too fast. And, now that it’s been over for a about a year, I still felt a confused sense of sadness, stress, awkwardness, and obligation. I wondered why – after all this time… Sure, I missed her potential platonic friendship. But, then it finally hit me. It was Facebook itself, with all of it’s shit being thrown into my face – especially with those damn “on this day” memories.
Look: the point is, I’ve seen other people experience their own pain and suffering. All due to Facebook. I guess that’s what happens when 2-billion people use the damn thing.
It Kills Friendships.
Remember the last Presidential Election?
Are you paying attention to the madness that’s followed it?
You might be posting your anger and defensive opinions on today’s political situation. Someone you once respected disagrees with your views and values, and now you have lost a little – if not a lot of – respect for that person.
Politics, Religion, and Sexuality should be nobody’s business but their own. You do you, as they say.
It Feeds (or Hurts) Your Ego; Turns you into a Narcissist.
We were all given the tools to create a persona. You only post the best side of your life, or maybe even sometimes exaggerate it just bit. You do this to attract more attention. More “likes.” You always appear to be laughing, traveling, and having the time of your life. And, as for the recipient… Well, they eventually question themselves. They compare themselves to your extraordinary, so-called happy life. They see your new selfie and think, “Wow, I wish I could go dancing on a rooftop, instead of sitting around at home in my underwear.” And that person that saw your dancing duck-faced-selfie might be your best friend. Your brother from another mother. Your sister from another mister. And, they may not “like” it. They may be too jealous to give you the satisfaction of a thumbs up. And, in reality, you probably just posed for that selfie. You don’t even like dancing. You just wanted something to share in that moment. You inserted that dollar into the slot machine, and you’re waiting for the payout.
So, you keep checking your phone to see how many “likes” your post received. You might wonder why your so-called best friend didn’t like it, or comment yet. You know they are online. Facebook is telling you that they are online! Why the bloody hell don’t they like your picture yet? It’s brilliant! You look awesome in it! Plus, the Empire State Building looks spectacular (but really blurry) in the background! At least like it for the Empire State Building, damn it! Why don’t they like your post!?! Why!?! Whyyyy!?! Aaaaaaagggghhhhhh!
It’s Unattractive and Rude.
Today, the majority of people keep their smartphone glued to their hand and in sight at all times. All times! When this occurs during real, live social scenarios, it could be – if you’re even aware of it – rude. I’m guilty of this myself, but I’ve become more conscious of it – hence this rant. They use their phones right in front of your face! During lunch; during dinner; in a meeting; during a movie; with good company… They give you divided attention… They “yes” you to death, but aren’t really listening.
It’s important to check the phone every minute, though, right? It’s very important. Everybody has to text. Everybody has to tweet. Everybody has to share that shitty photo of their half-eaten sandwich. It must go on Facebook, to entertain your “fans” – the other social media junkies that are missing out on your present experience.
In reality, nobody gives two shits what you ate or what you’re doing. You are sacrificing your own real-life experiences to feed your persona. That is all. It is never going to matter in the end. So, why spend your valuable time – those 5-hours per day – when you should be investing in actual relationships with real, live people! The people who actually give two shits about you. If you’re not sure who they are, look away from your screen for a second. They are the people that spend time with you on a regular basis. The people that go out of their way for you. The people that love you. They don’t deserve to be ignored, because your bullshit post requires your immediate attention.
“You are sacrificing your own real-life experiences to feed your persona.”
On July 7, 2017, I officially deleted my Facebook account. The whole damn thing. All my photos, all my status updates, all my “friends.” 10 years of participation . . . gone. And, for the first time in a very, very long time, I feel awake! I feel alive! I am more creative! More productive! I’ve gained an additional 76-days per year back! And, now, I can finally start living again. I can finally start contributing to society, and be more attentive to my loved ones.
When it comes to social media, it’s best to identify intention versus addiction. It might take some practice, but one tip is to remove all social media apps from your mobile device. At the very least, try that for 21-days. They say it takes 21-days to form or break a habit.
Going forward, I only use my phone with intention. I use the Internet for research, and I use this website as an obligation to write more often, because that’s what I love to do.
Before I close this rant, I leave you with one final note…
Life is what happens when you aren’t using your smartphone.
This is Mike Polizzi, last survivor of Facebook, signing off.