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Social Media = Social Disease

AeowenMay 2, 2020, 5:43:04 PM

When I left Facebook over a year ago, I had been on that website for twelve years. I had started the account during my last few high school years to stay connected with friends. I remember at first it was alright – I had been around my friends almost every day in school, no one really friended anyone who they did not know in real life, and opinions/life events/information freely came. As the years went on and the posts increased, the site had slowly become an addiction to my generation. People were posting their life events almost hourly, the selfies were ever flowing, and the phone calls stopped coming. I used to talk to my friends for hours on end while at school, but with social media – there was no need for it. Your entire life was out there for the world to see and if a friend wanted to check up on you, all they had to do was go to your wall. My friends got married, had kids, moved states, and vacationed all without me ever hearing about it in real life.

This alone was bad enough - the way the value of friendship became cheap. Relationships that used to take months or school years to build, now was a click away. There was no trying, no awkward conversation or learning about the other person. They just had to accept your request and you had access to their life. But during all of this and as social media became more integrated in everyone’s lives, what I like to call “Determining Factor Opinions” appeared and this completely changed how social interaction was carried out. These new opinions held by a person were the end-all-be-all of interaction with other people: Feminism, Political Affiliation, Public Figure Acceptance, Conspiracy beliefs, Abortion views, Immigration, etc became a breaking point of the shallow form of friendship people had formed. The funniest part of it all was that my friends had never cared about any of the subjects when our friendship had begun and grew, but when the topics were popular, suddenly it was their core values.

For example, I had a friend (we will call her Susie) who had been friends with my other friend Kyle since grade school. They had one of the closest relationships I was aware of. When the transgender movement started online and Susie began transitioning, she asked Kyle what he thought of transgenderism on a Facebook post in front of their circle of friends. When Kyle said something along the lines of “Well, from what I know it appears to be a psychological disorder and I hope that those people can get the help they need. I don’t think less of them, or anything similar – I just hope that they can get help figuring it out.” He was blocked by Susie and to this day they do not speak. This was the same for many of my other friends – there was no compromise or discussion of the topic. If the ideas of the subject were not the same, they were blocked. These actions were usually followed by a gloating post like “Just blocked a racist” which would of course receive several likes. This is also where the term “echo chamber” came from. People on social media were literally silencing opinions/definitions they did not agree with and surrounding themselves with people who felt the same. It was the death of genuine interaction.

The final reason I left Facebook was because facts no longer mattered. Though this sounds harsh and silly, people literally stopped caring about what the truth of a subject was, which was more than enough for me. I will tell you how ridiculous it became. I remember a specific post that I had made concerning McDonald's and how though it was cheap, it was also extremely unhealthy. I remember taking some time to research my theory and pricing the items of a meal there, and how I compared its nutritional value to a cheap home cooked meal of similar price. There was so much rage in the comment section, “I feed my daughter this every day and she is fine.” Or “You try feeding a family of four for a little over $5, you can’t. This is an insult to all the parents out there trying to make ends meet.” Or my favorite, “This is completely classist, not everyone has the money to afford a home cooked meal.” I was absolutely stunned. I had found the information, I had taken time to get the facts on the subject, and I had shared the information to let people know that they could make a family meal for $5 and it absolutely did not matter. Sharing facts suddenly became classist.

I deleted my Facebook without telling anyone a year later and moved on. I had hoped that Minds would be different, but unfortunately it is much the same. I found myself taking a break a few months back just because the arguing had become so tiresome. I will say, Minds users are not as fond of blocking as Facebook users, and people on Minds do like to discuss subject matter, which is completely unlike Facebook. But I have still found that the relationships that I have built here are not any deeper than the relationships I had on Facebook and facts still do not matter here. It is true that there are a lot of different opinions throughout Minds and that is wonderful. I appreciate that in this site. But if the mentality of the people is still, “No matter what, I’m right” nothing can be gained from interaction here outside of winded arguments.

Ego = the one of the three divisions of the psyche in psychoanalytic theory that serves as the organized conscious mediator between the person and reality, especially by functioning both in the perception of and adaptation to reality. The ego is basically what tells you if what you perceive is right or wrong, so if someone says to you “The sky is green” and you know it to be blue, your ego pushes to you to say, “No, the sky is blue.” However, the ego is also pride and vanity – if it is not kept in check, your perception of reality is skewed. For example, if you have liked cigarettes all your life and your parents smoked, your grandparents smoked, and you feel healthy – obviously, your ego tells you that there are no issues with cigarettes. However, you do not have the knowledge of a doctor or have any research under you belt to back up that your opinion. So if someone questions your behavior by saying, “Cigarettes cause cancer” your ego tells you “I’m healthy as a horse, there is no way it causes cancer” because everyone around you who smokes are fine and you feel fine. But the data/facts are there, it is a proven fact that cigarettes cause cancer. A person with an ego will continue to argue against facts until they are blue in the face because it is their personal truth that matters most.

A mentally healthy person would question the person saying “cigarettes cause cancer” by saying something like, “Can you show me where you got your information?” or “Where did you hear that from?” rather than taking a personal stance. That is because truth should always matter more than opinions. Social media everywhere has stoked everyone’s ego to the point where if your opinion is validated with likes, it must be right. This is incorrect. You do not have to like a fact for it to be correct and people do not have to like the truth. It just is and should be sought. It is always important to remember that what is right is not always easy. You should welcome challenges to your belief system, and you should always have the resources to back it up when tried. If your opinion stands up to the challenge, it is safe to continue to hold it, but if you are disproven, you should look for factual information to disprove the challenge or openly change your opinion. This rarely happens, but it should be how discussions end. Otherwise, the person who has no facts to back their claims continue to mill out post after post of incorrect information with other people validating the belief incorrectly. Hopefully, social media can evolve to a more civil means of communication at some point, but at this time, facts fall on deaf ears.

I am writing all this not to say I am quitting Minds or anything like that, but more so to point out the ignorance and disease that has become social media. The validation system does not amount to anything and the shallow means of communication are still the lowly expectation of the Facebook generation. I do intend to continue to post my blogs on here, but I do not expect to be as active as I was on this site when I first started. I hope that airing my grievances will allow some people to reflect on how they manage their opinions online. If you find yourself bothered by this blog, before commenting, take a look at your online behavior and see if you can honestly say to yourself that you have not been egotistical in the way that you have carried your online persona. Reflect and take time to judge yourself before you judge others. Thank you for your time. #opinion #minds #facebook