The Matrix Of Social Media

Billions of people are going about their lives every day, oblivious to the truth: just like The Matrix, Social Media has them. We live in an online world of mindless scrolling, hooked on ‘likes’. Impulsively, we go to Facebook or Instagram to check our notifications. The ‘feeds’ beckon our minds to…keep checking–but for what? It seems Social Media Addiction is a thing, and it seems designed to be.

My usage of social media started in 2009 with Facebook and grew from there. In the past nine years, as I consumed more of its content, it consumed me further. So I’ve had to pull back and exercise moderation, exerting self-control. The social media matrix is all about control; it wants our attention at all times.

Two times in the past, I have deleted, not just deactivated, my Facebook account. Call it ‘nuke from orbit’. And because of the recent news that, once again, Facebook user data and privacy was exploited, I might press the big red button for a third nuke. I can quit Facebook anytime, I’m not addicted! Said the social junkie. The #DeleteFacebook trend on Twitter (irony alert) is compelling.

For some reason, even before the news of the current data exploit, I’ve been drawn to withdraw from social media. Well, maybe not Twitter. The fact that I’m concerned about adverse social media withdrawal and not getting my fix of notifications is evidence, I believe, that I’m addicted to it. But I can quit anytime!

Psychostimulants

Social media is like coffee. You wake up and you’ve got to have it, and you get jittery if you go too long without it. Plus it can keep you up late at night! That’s the way it goes with me. I’ll enjoy one or two cups of coffee per day. The next thing you know, I’m up to 4 cups a day–too much! So I step back from the coffee; just put the mug down!

That’s what moderation looks like. You still drink coffee or use social media, but you do it more mindfully; no more mindless scrolling and checking. You put healthy limits on your time on Twitter or Facebook. But if you find yourself getting sucked back in too far past the boundaries, you may have to resort to abstinence. Instead of a little Instagram or Snapchat here and there, for example, you “just say no” to the drug altogether. You might resort to the ‘nuke from orbit’ option. Go ballistic. Delete.

You can quit cold turkey, sure. Just pull the plug! But that might not be successful. Like Neo in The Matrix, you might pop because your mind can’t take the sudden absence of red circles with numbers in them. So you might try soft exits in a series of steps. I’ve done this before and it totally helps. Instead of deleting or deactivating Facebook, for example, you can detach.

Find The Nearest Exit

Last year, I posted an idea for gaining control over your Facebook Newsfeed: The End of Newsfeed Distraction. It wakes you up from the mindless scrolling so you don’t find yourself tumbling down the never-ending rabbit hole of social matrices.

Some other easy and helpful tips: on your smartphone, move all social media app icons into folders on a 3rd or later screen so they’re a bit harder to get to. And the next logical step–simply delete the apps from your phone or tablet. This let’s you keep your account intact (it’s there if you need it), but it saves you from instinctively tapping away at your screen to check your feeds.

These steps are simple. And if the thought of doing them makes you uncomfortable, then consider that social media has you. It’s important to take control, again like The Matrix. At the risk of a false dichotomy, either Facebook controls you, or you control Facebook. You consume it and then unwittingly discover that it consumes you! Social Media is insidious that way.

It may sound like I’m bashing all social networking, and I get that some people love to hate on these modern fruits of technology just out of sensationalism. I don’t mean to sound alarmist unless there is some danger. Some people do get great usage out of the tools of social media and it serves them well. And I am starting to wonder if Facebook itself, as big as it is, has become somewhat essential to modern life, just as the internet itself has become a utility like water and electricity. I would contend otherwise–but that’s a blog post for another time.

For now I’ll say social media, like fruit, can be good. But even fruit goes bad over time. Biting into a rotten apple is not fun. Scrolling a sour newsfeed is not fun either. But people do it out of habit. You’ve just got to decide to keep your good habits and toss your bad ones. You decide because you are in control. Don’t let The Matrix Of Social Media control you.

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