Social Media - The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly


Perhaps its my age, perhaps its my introversion, but I have never been a fan of social media. Unlike many, I remember the days before the internet. Having to get the courage to phone a girl and hope that her dad wouldn't answer. Having to bike over to my friends house to see if they wanted to play. I grew up in the country, so it was a long bike ride. I remember when car phones (the pre-cursor to cell phones) was only for arrogant NYC lawyers and if you were away from home you could use a pager. 

I remember the bulletin board system (BBS), which was before the internet. You would basically dial directly into a friends computer and with a rudimentary text based navigation you could play some basic games, get pirated software, and leave messages for other users (hence the name). The next evolution was when America On Line (AOL) started, we had an old Compaq 386sx with a dial up modem, in the country, which was so slow that we coudn't even download images. It was only semi useful for searching anything, mostly it was about online chatting, but this time, it was a live chat (anyone remember A/S/L, if you do you are officially old). I got sucked into this, but eventually realized that it was a hindrace to my actual friendships. I tried to quit and spend more time with my in real life (IRL) friends. Unfortunately, most of them were too busy also on online chat forums. This drove my dad crazy as if I was online, it meant the phone was busy, sometimes for many hours on end. 

I was good with computers, I had self taught myself college level assembly language before I was a teenager. I was good at it so thats what I figured I would go to college for, computer engineering. That was a mistake, I was good at it, but I didn't enjoy it, especially doing what someone told me to program instead of doing what I wanted to program. 

Enough reminiscing about the past, back on point about social media. I remember back before Facebook, MySpace, even Hi5, and Hot or Not. I actually met my wife through Hi5. I will admit, I got sucked in, I even had a brief issue with being addicted to MMORPG (massive multiplayer online role playing game). They are fundamentally all the same. These are not just ideas thrown together, they are powerful multi million dollar enterprises that spend a ton of time to make it as addictive as possible and get as much information from you as possible. Everyting from the colours displayed on the website, to the "gamification" of likes is to make it as endorphin producing and addicting as drugs. Do you really need to refresh your feed every 10 minuites. Nothing that important in the world has happened since last time you opened the app. 

Go to any special event and you will see everyone with their phones out recording it or taking selfies. I prefer to sit an enjoy the actual moment. I pay attention to the atmosphere, the weather, how I feel, what I smell, trying to really be present in the moment. Looking at the world through your screen is not the same. I can only imagine the effect that devices such as Google Glasses will have on our society. 

There are plenty of well researched articles of the negative influence social media has on our confidence, ego, and perception of the world around us. Unanimously it is not good for us. Don't believe me, do your own research. Or ask yourself, how often do you check Facebook, how happy are you to see likes? Don't get met started on how things on the internet can be misinterpreted verson interacting with someone in person. I am sure we have all had that unfortunate experience of a missed joke or sarcasm from a text message. I have all notifications on my phone turned off, it doesn't control me, I let it know when it gets my attention. Every experience a phantom vibration from your phone, thats a problem. 

Our memories have been replaced by just Googling it or having the answer on your phone. If the average person was stranded at a payphone on the side of the road (if they still even exist) with a dead cell phone, they probably couldn't even recall a number for any family member, why would they need to know, its all in their phone. 

2 years ago when planning a trip to Iceland I realized the data roaming was not affordable so I was off Facebook for almost 2 weeks. It was stressfull the first couple of day, then it was liberating. Upon returning I decided to no longer use my personal account. If it wasn't necessary to have a personal account to have a business account it would already be closed. If something is important to me, someone will tell me. 

Social media is a cropped myopic view of someone elses life. With photoshop, angles, many re-takes, and selfies people view of what is normal in other peoples lives are skewed. It is also unhealthy to constantly measure your life against the unreality of what is protrayed on social media. 

I try and use social media and lot let it run my life. I don't use Facebook anymore, never used SnapChat, and only use Instagram to help with the business. On Instagram I only really post. The same as these blogs, I put them out there, and I don't care if it is liked or commented on. I have been honoured to have many of my writings republished on other sites, but I don't even check to see the reception of them. 20 years ago if you were the strongest person in your city, you probably thought you were one of the best in the world. Now you can go to YouTube and see a video of a teenage Chinese girl squatting more than you will ever be able to. Not exactly great for the ego. 

I read an interview once with an X-Games athlete who described this phenomenon perfectly. He said he had to post the video of his latest trick, because if not someone else would be first. Once he posted it, within days there were many other people already replicating his trick. This is a similar phenomenon to Roger Bannisters 4 minute mile. Everyone thought it was impossible for a human to do it, until he did. Then within months, many other people broke the barrier. 

There are great positives to social media, it allows families to keep up to date, video chat has been amazing for my sone and grand parents. I am not saying get rid of all social media, just don't let it control your life. Imagine the thought of scheduling one limited time period per day for your social media. 

This is just my opinion, and I'm weird. Try not to let social media run your life. Old man rant over. 

Call me old school, but if you need to get ahold of me, just call me. 

Yours in health, 
  Coach E

Crossfit Bytown