Last night, my husband and I watched The Social Dilemma on Netflix, a 90 minute documentary where ex-employees of social networks spill the beans on how these platform capitalists are using their products to manipulate the public to become addicted on them.
It was a blend of interviews in front of the camera, a short movie storyline weaved in through the show (and one which we could all relate to – although I never understood why you’d bring your devices to the dinner table); and a analogy of how algorithms work by three blokes standing at screens throwing up enticing screens to get their user to click.
To be fair, we could all relate to the topic because who hasn’t been addicted at some time or another to their phones?
In one scene, the mother of the family asks her them to hand over their mobile phones during dinner where she puts them into a lockable container. I think the only surprising thing for me in this show was that lockable container. At that moment, guess what, I took my phone and did a quick scan to find out more about these gems. Sure enough they’re called the Kitchen Safe.
Exactly what I need for my stroopwafels and chocolates. I NEED THESE LOCKED UP FROM MYSELF. Bugger the phone, it’s the sweet stuff that needs to be hidden away in our household.
Recently during lockdowns, I’ve been thinking a lot about the value of social media for myself. I must admit that over time, I’ve been thinking “what’s the point of it all?” After all, I’m struggling to find people who share anything of real value anymore and by that I mean, show and share their work and what they’re doing to learn, make or create. Alternatively maybe like me, they too have just gotten tired of it all – the noise, the fact that conversations are usually within cliquey groups, or if you express something you’re trolled, ignored, jumped on by others or being mansplained to. There’s a certain tediousness that I now visit my social networks. Even taking photos of my work, my knitting and my selfies is like I’m FORCING myself to do this. This was never the case previously. I’ve always enjoyed contributing, sharing and replaying to posts. After all, I’ve found a great network of people who are now my friends as well as my work on social media has meant that I’ve had various opportunities come my way.
So for me, social networks have been crucial for my work and connections. However, now, I’m questioning whether I can sustain the same level of use as I have over the years.
I keep thinking, “maybe I can use the Seth Godin example where he just uses his blog and shares to Twitter but never engages?” Certainly that way, you can still do your sensemaking but you engage on your terms – and in other areas – mainly away from open public spaces that can turn nasty. Instead, you engage in smaller online communities?
Then there’s a part of me that says I will miss the banter with the people in my network as this is where I know they’re hanging out. As many don’t even answer their phones, respond to texts or even respond to email, the quickest way to contact them is through DM of their preferred social network of choice so that, by default, makes you stay on these bloody networks.
Maybe I should just get comfortable by having these apps on my phone but not engaging with them? Every time I post a photo or send a tweet, part of me thinks “I should actually have shared that through my blog so that I captured it as now I have no record of it – it’s disappeared into the social media ether”.
Suffice to say, I’m really unsure and I go around in circles. Social networks have helped me so much but recently I’ve been struggling to see their value to me anymore. I’d be better off just using my time to rest, relax, make and create without needing to share everything. After all, I’m in my 50s now, I think I’ve reached a point that I’m comfortable with myself and don’t need public feedback to evaluate myself. In fact, I really don’t care what people think.
It may be different for young people who are trying to build new careers and make new networks but I think there’s a lot to be said to teach young people the skills to be confident enough to be great communicators and creators and not worry what people think – how many likes they have – or judge themselves to others. They also need positive role models not celebrities who are also fed by the social media machine.
Social media takes us away from being true to ourselves and using our time to nurture our hearts and brains. I don’t think it’s the fault of the social media though – it’s the fault of people not being provided the education on how to best use it, how to use it plus also the lack of government regulation here.
Seriously, if we need Netflix to tell us about the Social Dilemma, even THAT is wrong. Netflix uses the same algorithms to feed people content on what they think we want to see. What’s the difference?
We need more education, conversation and….regulation.
Right. I’m going to get myself another stroopwafel…..no….I….must…..not…..