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Mixed Feelings About the Social Media

4 min read

The good and the bad of the social media

I have mixed feelings about the social media.

Let's go back to the year 2008. We think the world would be a great place if everyone could talk to everyone on the planet, share thoughts, ideas, pictures, and videos, and whatnot. Fast forward 2024 and everyone will give you dozens of reasons how social media completely fcuked up the whole world.

Well, the genie is out and we can't put it back in the bottle. What we can do is to learn to live with it. I say this about many things and social media is one of them. There's no point in agonizing the existance of the social media, because you just don't understand how this new world works (like many old people..). You need to learn to live with it.

Anyway, like many things in life it's not black and white. A lot of what social media brought (instant communication, connection etc.) is now taken granted, and the negatives recently get the most attention. Still I find a lot of good in using social media, and over time I made some observations how it affects me.

This post is mostly motivated by my own inner battle of trying to limit my time on social media, but when doing it, feeling some things are missing in my life. This battle over my attention has been ongoing for years and I don't see a ceasefire anytime soon, unless I cold turkey quit and delete everything.

But should I? This post is more or less the result of the assessment of this question.

👍 Ambient Intimacy

This was the term I read years ago somewhere. Originally it was coined by Leisa Reichelt in 2007 to express "the sense of closeness or connectedness through the continuous sharing and consumption of personal content on social media, without direct interaction".

Now that's a mouthful, but shortly it means knowing what your friends do and keeping up with them.

I definitely feel closer to people with whom we actively follow each other. There's a certain level of awareness of what's going on in each's others' lives. And when you meet there are so much to talk about as you'll have a large common basis.

I notice the significance of this with the absence of it. Like when I meet someone I know after a while but I don't follow them, or a friend I haven't been seeing who doesn't use social media at all, even a close one. In these cases you definitely feel the lack of sync. The conversations get stuck, the feeling of intimacy is just not there

👎 Unnecessary Contacts

This is the flipside of the above case. We all have that person. You've been following each other since 5 years without a single exchange, just watching each others' lives unintentionally. There are a good number of people I follow like this and I feel this is wasting my time and even occupying unnecessary space in my brain. Why do I even follow this person? Why am I even seeing their avocado toast every Sunday?

Usually with these types of people it's a good idea to aggressively mute their content, and come back at the muted list couple times a year to see if you missed them. Even better unfollow them past a certain time period if you really don't care. At the end you only have finite time but you can follow infinite number of people. Be diligent with your following. Mute and unfollow aggressively. Although unfollowing might not always be an option, so just mute.

👎👎👎 Addiction

This needs no explanation. I will keep this short as this is the most prominent and well known downside. But the implications of this is huge. This is a big big negative.

👎👎👎 Attention span

Is this even a thing in 2024? Even a 1 min Tiktok video is too long for me.

🤔 Show off vs share your life

There's a thin line between these two. I sincerely enjoy sharing with people I care what I experience, think, feel, awe at, how I see the world, and what brings me joy. So do the people following me, I hope. I find this to be a healthy practice that lead to meaningful exchanges and as one's self-expression and actualization.

This can easily slip out of the hands when the motivation to share is not intrinsic but extrinsic. When it becomes the likes, the numbers, how people perceive you and to show-off. This, for me, creates the wrong incentives. Your whole relationship with the platforms you're using and your followers, and even how you look at the world will be distorted. The next trip becomes an Instagram trip, the next tweet will be a clickbait, and how you view your own life will be primarily filtered through what you think how other people think about you. (Funnily not even what people actually think because people actually don't care about you as much as you think)

Whenever I feel the urge to share something I try to stop and reason to myself why I want to share this. I try to gauge which side of this thin line I'm staying at.

💡 Diminishing returns

This is not a positive or negative about the social media but an observation.

I feel when you open Instagram, Twitter, Facebook after a day or half, the first 4-5 minutes is actually really interesting and fruitful. The algorithms do a fair job of curating what matters to you and this feels like a time well spent.

After couple minutes the returns start to fade and you find yourself looking at things shared by people you don't really care about, or even worse content from people you don't follow i.e. Reels, TikTok etc. One big difference between the content 10 years ago vs today is we used to see content only from the people we follow back then, and now the algorithms rule the world.

👩‍❤️‍👨 Partner search

Not everyone would talk about it but your social profile is how you showcase yourself for potential partners and it is the place you e-meet your potential matches. I feel for a single person the potential upside from having an active and well crafted (mainly Insta) profile is way higher than what you'd gain quitting.

That's it. There I've said it.