Monday, April 09, 2018
Boycotting Big Oil vs. Boycotting Big Social Media
I had received an incredibly rare call from an associate of mine. He is anti-social, a veritable hermit, pulling it off so well we call him Eeyore. He was concerned because my last podcast was "too depressing" and that he hadn't seen anything from me on Facebook for a while. I assured him I was fine and that everything was OK.
I then received a text from a much happier and outgoing friend of mine from Reno. He too was inquiring about my mental health and wondering if everything was OK. I hadn't been responding to his Facebook messages and was wondering if I was banned recently or put in Facebook Jail. I also assured him I was alright and everything was OK.
Then a female friend of mine contacted me, wondering if she had upset me somehow and why I was giving her the silent treatment. She hadn't heard from me in a while on Twitter, nor saw any updates or posts. "Did I go ghost?" "Was everything alright?" "Was I OK???" I now thricely assured her I did not go ghost, everything was alright, and I was indeed OK.
This is what happens when you simply take a week vacation from social media.
This is shocking to me because neither I, nor the majority of my friends/fans are attention-whoring social-media-addicted teenagers. We have lives (well, except for Eeyore), we have careers, and it is no secret that the Ole Captain has many adventuring hobbies. It should be perfectly expected that a 40 year old adult male occasionally doesn't log into his social media accounts because he's hiking, motorcycling, mountain climbing, golfing, or all of the above. But apparently it isn't because of everybody's concern for my well being this past week.
This revelation is important, however, because it tells me NORMAL, SANE, MATURE, ADULTS have mentally changed. They've mentally migrated from a state of pre-social media "meatspace" stability to a post-social media state of irrational concern. They've moved from assessing the real world around them by assessing the actual real world and are now instead assessing the real world around them indirectly via the digital world. In other words the vitally important relationships we have with friends, family, and loved ones are no longer primarily held in physical, personal proximity to one another, but in the artificial environment of social media.
Which is why we need to boycott social media...at least for a little bit.
There are many reasons to boycott social media.
Facebook's track record of effectively stalking you, likely invading your personal life more than what you contractually agreed to.
YouTube's history of shutting down free speech (of typically rightists), making dealing with the platform akin to dating a bi-polar 25 year old suburbanite princess hottie.
The sheer time-cost and lost efficiency in life as you waste more time in Digital Lala-Land than a 70's housewife wasted watching soaps.
And fake news (on BOTH political sides), angering and enraging us, making us all more hostile towards one another, not to mention shortening our life expectancies in the process.
These reasons alone merit boycotting social media regularly and for weeks at a time.
But the true cost is the literal loss of our humanity as we replace the physical human touch with a cold digital replicant.
The mental and physical costs to our health as we replace our loved ones with bits-and-bytes versions of themselves was recently highlighted in an outstanding piece by Jean Twenge. Using the first generation to be brought up online (Generation Z) Ms. Twenge exposed a nightmare of symptoms when you force a specie used to living in the real world for 2 million years, rapidly and suddenly into a fabricated one. Depression, over-prescribed drugs, impossibly high levels of mental disorders, completely new mental disorders, decay in the familial unit, decay in social relationships, lethargy, sloth, addiction to video games, a lack of sex, a lack of dating, a lack of social activity, a lack of exercise, the inability to support oneself, and the list goes on and on.
We can try to categorize these problems, diagnosing them with a cute "science" like "psychology," conveniently coming up with new "mental disorders" for the DSM LCLXXIII, but as far as my thinking takes me we are doing nothing more than slowly (or perhaps not so slowly) converting humans into plants. Where we no longer physically engage with one another either via sex, play, conversation, debate, competition, sport, or even fighting in an outside world, but simply plant roots into a metaphorical "digital ground" to find our purpose and meaning in life. We no longer prefer to explore, adventure, and engage one another in person and in an unlimited real physical world, but instead opt to anchor ourselves in one place, sucking digital nutrients out of the social media-ground to feed our soul. About the ONLY time we venture forth into the real world is to forage for that annoying food, the purpose of which is solely to sustain our decaying bodies and brains so we can extract more digital fixes from the roots we have planted into social media. And even that we are finding bypasses around as we can order food over the internet and have it delivered to our homes.
The problem however is that while digital fixes conveniently acquired through some mere clicks of a button take very little energy, this diet of simulated human interaction makes us precisely that - simulated humans.
Porn is not sex.
Madden 2078 is not sport.
Twitter wars are not debate.
Long distance relationships are not relationships at all.
Skyping is not conversation.
Podcasts are not seminars.
Even the much-envied dream job of "location independence" has its drawbacks as I and any other digital nomad will tell you that you can't stay at home all day and MUST leave the house simply to interact and see other humans.
Thus, it was no surprise to me that after I abstained from social media for two weeks and instead spent the past week hiking, motorcycling, golfing and dining with friends, not only was I in a much better mood, but I was drastically healthier both mentally and physically. And the reason why is that I was simply being a human.
This then introduces a very important (I'd say necessary) call to boycott "Big Social Media." I'm not saying give it up totally (as the internet has no doubt drastically improved our lives in many ways) but that if you don't unplug and detox from it on a regular basis you will become a simulated human. But boycotting "Big Social Media" also brings up an interesting political/economic observation...
"What if we boycotted it all at the same time and for a two week period?"
Boycotting social media has merit unto itself, but no doubt many of you have a bone to pick with "Big Social Media." Namely those of you who appreciate the freedom of speech who have either been banned, put in Facebook Jail, had your YouTube channel demonitized/canceled, or had your Twitter account eliminated. There are many political arguments from across the political spectrum for the free exchange of ideas. There is also the political arguments that "Big Social Media" is a monopoly that should be regulated much like public utilities. Many of you have established careers using social media, relying on it much like we do the public roads for your survival. And to add insult to injury, Big Social Media has an incredibly arrogant attitude when it comes to answering public inquiry as to their ever-changing, completely opaque usage rules. They may be the all-powerful FAANG companies that oligopolistically dominate the modern world economy, but they could stand to sustain a lesson in humility and customer service.
So why not kill two birds with one stone?
If you recall the indescribably stupid calls to "boycott Big Oil for a day" back in the 00's, you'll remember the leftist "logic" was that if we all didn't buy gas on one day, that would bankrupt "Big Oil."
Never mind people would just buy twice as much the next day.
Never mind Big Oil had the cash reserves to last a day (months at times).
And never mind the world, whether they liked it or not, was dependent on fossil fuel technology and that if Big Oil did "go away" we'd be sent back to the stone ages.
In their 89 IQ minds, they thought that not buying gas one day would bring down a multi-trillion dollar industry the world was completely dependent upon.
But "Big Social Media" is not "Big Oil."
First, we don't need social media. It's not food or gas or medicine or electricity. It's a convenience. It's a luxury. It's an admittedly fun addition to life. But if it's become an addiction (which I claim it has) it is incredibly damaging to humanity. We can ALL, EASILY go on a "social media diet" for a month simply because we have to. You can't do that with oil.
Two, if you had a bone to pick with Big Social Media, boycotting them for a month at the same time would at least affect their monthly payrolls, vendors, and other payables. It wouldn't bankrupt them (and I don't think we should want to), but it would remind them that they are not there to promote social causes, political crusades, regulate speech, and choose political or elitist winners and losers. They are a natural monopoly and can either charitably choose to act as such, or get arrogant and snooty randomly nitpicking things they do and do not like, discriminating against customers, or otherwise stepping outside the ethical bounds of what they should be doing.
In other words, a boycott against Big Social Media is not only necessary for the health of humanity, but is also completely feasible. Of course there's just one problem.
You're all completely and hopelessly addicted to it.
Much as I'd like to see my friends in the real world again, much as I'd like to grab some beers with my buddies, and much as I'd like to go hike with my pals, I know it's just easier to click on pictures, post pictures of cats, and engage in "intellectual debate" with <144 adults="" adventuring.="" and="" arguments.="" at="" because="" blog="" boys="" br="" cell="" character="" club.="" continue="" conversation="" d="" decided="" derive="" digitally="" easier="" engaging="" espouse="" fatter="" from="" get="" girls="" going="" goods="" have="" humans="" in="" instead="" it="" joining="" joy="" just="" kids="" kiwani="" life="" lion="" live="" look="" majority="" more="" nbsp="" nearly-passing-out-sex.="" netflix="" night="" of="" or="" out="" phones="" political="" porn="" positions="" producing="" raising="" rather="" real="" reality.="" s="" soy-y="" soy="" spouses="" tangible="" than="" the="" their="" they="" to="" uglier="" value="" vlog="" watching-y="" watching="" will="" with="" world.="" would="">144>
But for my friends, and even my enemies who happen to have independent thought, for your own mental sake, you need to boycott social media for at least a week a month. You need to return to the real world. You need to grab beers with friends, engage with rivals, visit family, and physically be with loved ones. If you do not unplug your lives will be what they are now - ruined. And your current state will be no different than when you're in the nursing home - a vegetable.
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