As I sit here removed from a regular daily routine, I start to wonder about the aspects of life we accept as necessary simply because we’ve bought the “conventional wisdom.” I start to wonder if they’re necessary at all.
That’s not a terribly insightful comment. Nor is this observation made with the same vigor as that of a chemically-altered “philosopher” stumbling onto a heavy thought that has no real weight.
In particular, I started wondering about social media.
It’s been accepted as the way of the world now. In order to function in today’s society you have to share your life on algorithmic marketing platforms that mine your data for advertising dollars.
Heck, it’s been accepted that you need to get the most attention you can even if it means the Chinese Communist Party is turning your phone into a spy.
We simply must accept that this is the way of the world, according to the conventional wisdom. We must connect as many people as we can across all the corners of our lives if we hope to have a life that’s as fulfilling as we hope.
And to be sure, social media has had positive benefits in my life. I’ve met some terrific friends thanks to those connections. They are actual real-life, honest-to-goodness friends as traditionally defined, not algorithmically set. My own network of acquaintances is nationwide as opposed to regional or hyper-local.
Rejecting the Premise
Still I reject the premise that social media is an absolute necessity. There’s an argument to be made that people were happier in the days before its ubiquitous presence.
If they weren’t happier in the strictest sense, maybe they were just more secure in the friends they had. Maybe they had the time to discuss things with their friends in nuanced and rational ways.
I know that the friends I’ve made on social media have all become real friends because they’ve transitioned to the actual “inner circle” level wherein I can trust them implicitly. Even if we disagree, it doesn’t carry the charge of fear that online social media interactions often do.
So I’m not advocating for the abolition of social media. I’m just rejecting the premise that it’s impossible to live “without it.” I think that it’s perfectly possible, and even think that a reduction in its influence – were that possible – would be a healthy and positive thing for everyone as a whole.
Do I see that happening? Not so long as there’s an advertising dollar to be spent. Much like keeping The Bachelor on the air for 18 interminable years, so long as there’s any money to be made for an advertiser, a product will remain.
And since we’re the product, and our hunger for clout is unquenchable, there will always be a product.
I just reject the premise that it’s necessary.