Blog: Log off: Be happy in the here and now

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We get a three-pronged attack (at the minimum) on our minds: Firstly, the social-media software-developers’ use of dark patterns to make their platforms as addictive as possible, which is mentioned in this article; Secondly, we have the tricks our mind plays on us (“FOMO”), which compels us to check these platforms and also conditions us to “need” to respond instantly to everything (also discussed in this article). This, I think, is why many people can’t shut off after work, or take their phone to bed with them, or sit at the dinner table in a fancy restaurant, glued to their phone. In their new, shifted, warped logic, it would be “rude” not to, because they’d be “ignoring everyone”! But there is a third prong for this attack, which is very-closely related to the second. Whilst the second prong is “our expectations of ourselves”, the third prong is “other peoples’ expectations of us”. It’s well-known that peer-pressure and the network effect are very powerful indeed.

Because these systems condition everyone to feel compelled to respond to every comment, post or “like” immediately, they indirectly condition everyone to expect that of each other too.

I have a number of friends who understand and partially-sympathise with my attitudes towards antisocial media, but even when they take my “quirkiness” into account, they often don’t realise they’re placing unnecessary importance on something that isn’t real and doesn’t matter. Their thought-patterns have been shifted, and their frames of reference have been altered. In short, despite thinking they are conscious or in control, they’re still brainwashed, they’re still addicted, and they’re still damaged.

As an example, someone, knowing I haven’t signed-in to my antisocial-media profile for around a year, still considered it important that I updated my relationship status on that platform, otherwise it wasn’t completely “real”/“official”.

As a second example, numerous photos of me at various real-world events have been posted on an antisocial-media site by friends who are aware of my attitudes towards antisocial-media. I have received compliments on some of these photos from other friends, loose acquaintances and friends-of-friends, all of whom also know my attitudes and sign-in patterns towards antisocial-media; Yet despite knowing that I never go on to that platform, many people keep reminding me that it’s important to acknowlege the complements on that platform, and respond accordingly. In other words, despite already having thanked some of them for the compliments in person, and despite them all knowing I place no importance on antisocial-media, it is still deemed important and “polite” to respond with some “likes” (or whatever). So, basically, I’m somehow being “rude” or “shunning” these people, despite the fact that they know I might not have even seen these photos yet! And even worse, it’s still considered “rude” towards the ones I have already thanked in person (because I’d heard they liked the photos)! How is a fake interaction more important than real life?

I notice that this type of expectation is now spilling-over into real life as well. Several times recently, I’ve received an e-mail on a Friday evening and then had impatient reminders/calls on the Monday morning. This has been both for work and personal e-mail.

When I was a kid, waiting for a game to load from a tape/cartridge/CD-ROM took ages, but you’d be bursting with excitement and anticipation. If you were bored, you found something to do, often mischievous, dangerous, or both. When I was a teacher, I noticed the kids simply couldn’t function without a glowing screen in front of them. If there was no ipad in the classroom, or phone at break time, there was “nothing to do”. It’s like all traces of creativity and imagination had vanished. Since the dawn of time, kids have been impatient, but the shift over the last 10 years has been astonishing. People are now literally incapable of waiting or occupying themselves.

I wholeheartedly believe that even if the GAFAM (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft) software-developers initially had some great ideas, especially during the 1990s and first 5 years of the millennium (note this time period largely excludes Facebook) - they are now most-definitely brain-damaging us.