Intro: I want to start with one premise that is unquestionably true: as far as we know, time is the only thing we have. Everything else of value we measure in life is based on the notion that we have the time to utilized or enjoy it. Thus, wasting time is absolutely the worst thing a person can do (I mean this in a philosophical sense, not like committing a crime), because they are quite literally and voluntarily discarding their own value.
I understand that what I say will not be popular, but frankly my dears, I don’t give a damn. Because it needs to be said, and apparently, I’m the one who has the balls to say it: social media is mostly garbage, and it is almost certainly making your life worse.
I’ll get into the specifics here in a minute, but let me start by saying it doesn’t have to be. I’m not saying you need to delete your accounts, or that social media doesn’t have some redeeming qualities—what I’m saying is that the less you post, the less you’re on there, the less it is a part of your life, the happier you’ll be and your life will be measurably better.
In other words, it doesn’t have to be this way. It just doesn’t. No one requires that you post stories on Instagram everyday, and even if it’s for business purposes, if you’re relying solely on social media, you’re screwed because the algorithms are built so that you have to buy ads. Anyway, not checking in on social media or posting isn’t the end of the world: you’ll still interact with friends and family and meet new people—it’s just that instead of having 100 small impersonal bullshit interactions a day, you’ll have a half dozen meaningful ones. OK, so let’s look at some of the specific reasons social media makes people worse, shallower versions of themselves:
Social media is, by definition, false validation. It is at best a measure of one’s expected value, but unlike poker chips which can be cashed in for real money, only the most popular social media accounts can be monetized. So sure, you may be creating these amazing moments, stories, and pictures, but it doesn’t mean shit in terms of real value—the exception is that one could potentially meet friends or dates this way, but we’ll get to that on point 4.
In the meantime, you’re making yourself a shallow, transactional person—and again, it’s not even a transaction you’re getting anything real from, just false validation. Here’s the format: we post, then count the number of reactions we get as a measure of our worth. And don’t say you don’t care either—that’s fucking bullshit. You wouldn’t post everyday if you didn’t care. In any case, it doesn’t matter—none of it—and whatever time you spent curating this account has been wasted, which as I noted earlier, is basically the worst thing a person can do.
If social media confers no real benefit to one’s life, then it is by definition a waste of time. The worst. But Jeff, I enjoy posting and interacting on social media. Therefore it is benefitting me in the same way any form of entertainment benefits a person.
OK, that’s fair, but most forms of entertainment, aside from drugs and alcohol, don’t cause their users to become depressed and anxious—this leads me to the next point.
Social media is a fucked up way of communicating, and as a result, makes you more depressed and anxious. We weren’t meant or built to do things like this. Allow me to explain:
When I post a pic, the surface communication is: this is a picture. However, the sub communication is: aren’t I pretty/cool/interesting/smart? Understand that when you post you are asking people for validation implicitly, even if you don’t think you are.
In a sense, your brain understands this in the same way it understands directly asking a person a question. IRL, we expect an answer, and though logically we know it’s different on social media, your brain doesn’t get that. It wants an answer, and if it doesn’t get it, or even if it just takes some time to get it, the mind hamster starts spinning aka anxiety.
If you don’t believe me, go look at the statistics. People who regularly use social media—and heavy users in particular—are far (something like 70%) more likely to have suicidal thoughts or actions and say they feel overwhelmed, desperately sad, or hopeless.
This is actually true even for people making millions. I read an article about Amanda Lee, a beautiful Instagram model (I’ll link to in the show notes), who said she felt incredibly anxious, depressed, and felt that no one truly loved her. Next point.
For most people, the time spent trying to cultivate relationships over the internet isn’t worth it. There are two basic reasons for this.
The first is sheer volume. The number of interactions we can have in a day on social media vastly outnumbers what we could accomplish IRL. Thus, the chance we get missed or passed over is far more likely, even if that’s not what the person intended. Keep in mind, that’s not how it feels to us as an individual—cue hamster and freaking out and feeling depressed and anxious.
The second reason is simply that we don’t place as much value on people we interact with virtually. This is why people have no issue screaming at a sales rep on the phone, but wouldn’t dare behave in such a way with that person standing in front of them. I should say most here, because some people are just assholes no matter who they’re interacting with. Anyway, people will just fucking drop off the map with no explanation—this happens to everyone, even the super hotties.
Thus, while it certainly is possible to foster relationships over social media or on SOD, the conversion rate and meaning of such relationships is far lower than what it is IRL with someone you meet in a genuine way. However…
Because people can get away with this on social media, it spills over into real life where they become flakes and assholes. Again, the way our brains work, if I ask you a question or say something to you directly IRL, I expect a response—in fact, if I don’t get one I’ll usually ask again or make fun of the person which is a way to get them to acknowledge they are being rude.
Today, however, I have to say, it’s quite common to have people simply not reply, whether to a phone call, a text, an email, etc. To be clear, this isn’t a me problem, nor am I talking about my romantic entanglements. This is true of some of my friends and family members.
Want to know who doesn’t ignore communication, flake out, or act like a jackass? Anyone over 40 and my closest friends. They respond in a timely manner. Like adults.
I want to point out that the belief it is OK to be a flake, not get back to people, etc.—that’s not good for that person. They aren’t going to be able to form and maintain strong relationships with other people, whether family, friends, or romantic partners.
OK, so what to do?
Again, I’m not saying you have to delete the apps or never post. Just make a conscious effort to do it less often. It’s almost akin to someone trying to lose weight—are they better off to go full keto and consume little to no carbs whatsoever? Yes. But they’ll still see progress if they reduce the amount of carbs they eat, and that maybe an easier path to start with than full on abstinence.
Have a book or podcast to listen to.
Social media is great for groups, events, and communities.
Business/artists/etc—by all means, but know you’ll have to advertise unless your shit is on fire.
I want to end by citing a story titled, “I’m broke and mostly friendless, and I’ve wasted my whole life.” It’s basically about a woman who serial dated/monogamized her way through her 20’s, but didn’t form any close friendships because she was flaky (aka communicated like an asshole), and is now pretty much screwed: in life, with men, etc.
Life is relative… guy who’s worthless, girl who serial dates in 20’s