Wednesday, March 14, 2018

To Share or Not to Share

I deleted the Facebook app. Again. 

This on again/off again relationship with social media has been going on since I first signed up years ago. I once completely deleted my account for a while. This time, I decided to keep the account (it's used to sign in to so many different things) and stop scrolling the feed.

I don't like the way it makes me feel.

A study conducted in 2016 called "Use of multiple social media platforms and symptoms of depression and anxiety: A nationally-representative study among U.S. young adults" involved 1,700 people and found a threefold risk of depression and anxiety among people who used the most social media platforms. Reasons for this, they suggested, include cyber-bullying, having a distorted view of other people’s lives, and feeling like time spent on social media is a waste. -from BBC Future, "Is Social Media Bad for You? The Evidence and the Unkowns"

A neighbor posts "UNFRIEND ME IF YOU DON'T AGREE" followed by a very specific, very extreme political rant. Dozens of girls from my high school class post regular reminders of their constant and unwavering friendship for the twenty years since graduation. People argue and vent and complain.

I don't know what I want to see on social media. I just know it's none of the above.

We had a brief conversation about the topic in Sunday School a while back. I'm teaching a high school class that currently averages two students per week. It's usually the same two students. Our lesson asked a question about posting status updates when you're feeling bad.

"I don't like to see stuff like that," the two students agreed.

The lesson then asked about posting status updates when you're feeling really good.

"I don't like to see that either," they said. "We'll show you the kind of stuff we post."

Former Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya recently told an audience that he feels guilty for helping develop Facebook when he knew deep down that “something bad could happen.” He said he now believes Facebook and other social media services provide tools that are “ripping apart” the way humans interact in society.
He said the problems are being fueled by the basic need of people to seek ongoing feedback from others. Such feedback can actually lead to the pleasure chemical dopamine being released in the brain, he added. - from Learning English, "Facebook Admits Social Media Can Harm Mental Health"

One of the boys pulled out his phone and proceeded to show a video of the sink in the men's bathroom at Buffalo Wildwings. 

"The sink was acting funny," he explained.

This video was a closeup shot of the sink. The boys turned the water on and the pipes made a knocking sound which caused the water pressure to rise and fall. You could hear the boys laughing in the background.

My first thought was to make fun of them. (I'm not a very good Sunday School teacher.) Then I thought back to the last thing I'd posted on Facebook, a picture of a used Sizzex Big Shot my mom gave me. "Wild Saturday night with my new Sizzex," I wrote mostly as a way of thanking my mom for giving me a new toy.

Is that a more worthy post than the Buffalo Wildwings sink?

It's not.

The truly awful bit was that out of the few comments on my Sizzex post, one "friend" wrote, "that's nice, but Cricut is way better."

And though I'm sure she didn't mean it like that, I still spent too much brain power thinking about how rude she was taking a shot at my Sizzix. I happen to enjoy my Sizzix. She can take her Cricut and shove it!

So Facebook isn't for me. Giving it up has caused me to be less interested in Twitter. Overall, the experience has been akin to giving up chocolate. I missed it for the first few days, but now I'm quite comfortable with the decision. Mental health experts are beginning to issue warnings about social media consumption. They think people that interact online are happier than those of us that tend to read and lurk without sharing or commenting. That may be the case, but it's a good policy to be mindful of time spent online or off. If it's not helping, it has to go.