Our Social Media Experiment
by Chris de Serres
It started out quite calmly. Then our voices got louder. We had hit a rough patch in our relationship and it was time to find a way out. We started talking about, of all things, Facebook. Yes, that great blackhole of timesuck. The new ‘home’ where we hang our hats. I have been wanting to step away from quite some time. When things aren’t going well you look for distractions. For outlets to connect. To stay in touch with friends and family. To share. To laugh at funny videos. To denounce the political stupidity of the other. To do almost everything it seems.
The internet has replaced the TV as the place to go to zombie out. To waste time. To disengage from our immediate worlds to be part of a sometimes imaginary world. This world provides a reward every time we log on. The likes. The comments. They are fed to us in regular interviews. If we seek, we find, instantly. So we invest more time because we always get what we want, when we want it.
Imagine for a second if we changed social media. If we made everyone wait a day before their likes, comments, and posts were added to our Facebooks and our Instagrams. If we had to wait 24 hours for those responses to the funny selfie we just posted. Our dopamine feedback loop would be broken and we would have a much different internet experience.
The social media is changing how we relate and how our children relate. They are born into this. That makes them an entirely different generation than those, such as me, who grew up in the 80’s. We knew life before instant gratification. We had to wait for things. Many of us grew up knowing the merits of waiting for the things we want most. Our children will only know this feeling if we expose them to it. The world, as it is now, is not set up that way anymore.
After the voices died down, we agreed to stop all social media for 30 days. Specifically those things that provide instant feedback. Facebook. Instagram. Twitter.
I secretly hope this experiment will last much longer.