Social Media, Part 1

My Mom read books like she was in a book-reading-contest. Easily a book a week. I’ve seen her read three books in a week and on vacation she’d bring a bag (a brown, paper grocery bag) filled with a dozen books and she’d read them all. I wish I inherited her book-reading speed (please don’t tell me that if I read more often and worked at it I would become a better and faster reader …you’re wrong and I don’t want comments with links to studies and articles trying to prove yourself correct).

Quick aside …she and my Uncle Jerry (her brother) were both voracious readers and he would also read books like crazy. 

I’m telling you about my Mom and her book-reading because the funniest thing about her was, sometimes, when she’d finish a book, she would close it and say, “well, that was a terrible book.” And when we would laugh that she just read a 300-page book that she didn’t like. She often would confess that, “I knew after about 50 pages I wasn’t going to enjoy it …poor writing …confusing transitions …but I had to see where it was going.”

This happened many times. We would tease her about it. It baffled me. All these years later, I’ve abandoned many books that didn’t grab my attention or that were too obvious on where it was going. In my mind, reading should be an enjoyable escape so if I pick up a book about World War II fighter pilots and the author spends less time on “story” and more time explaining the instrument panels and how everything works behind the panel, or about wind speed and vortexes and comparing flight patterns of American fighter pilots to geese …well, to me, that’s too technical and not my cuppa tea. If I get to page 50 in that book and I barely see a story unfolding, I’m done with that book (I would tell you the name of that book, because obviously I’m being very specific, but I can’t remember because I was so unimpressed).

You see where I’m going, right?

Social media and people’s hatred for it (of it?) is the modern day equivalent of my Mom saying, “I knew after 50 pages I wasn’t going to enjoy the book.”

People realize social media isn’t mandatory, right? You don’t have to use it? You don’t have to post angry things or use it to get into arguments and strain friendships and relationships, right? 

I have two friends, both in their 50s, who’ve recently declared, like someone who says they’re giving up smoking or gonna start exercising that, and I quote, “I’m seriously considering deleting my Facebook account …it just stresses me out.”

Oh, how noble. But I say, “why?”

Real quick …I have three friends who use zero social media. None. They don’t even have accounts. One guy is 48 years old, has a solid marriage, a nice house, two great kids, a job, and a Porsche in the garage, and he’s always telling me about the latest book he’s reading or the latest vinyl album he added to his collection and listened to …the man has time to listen to entire albums. WTF? Another no-social-media friend is a surgeon with a big house, great marriage, two great kids, drives new cars, enjoys expensive bourbons (and shares with me), and gardens …an amazing garden. No. Social. Media. None. None at all. Oh, and I have two brother-in-laws (BILs) that don’t have social media. Both do quite well for themselves. One BIL, in fact, has two homes …the second home on the water. Oh, and he has two boats. And lots of toys. Both of these guys …no social media.

Gulp. Writing that last paragraph might be making me realize the most financially successful people don’t have social media, at all …no …I’m not ready to admit that. 

Back to my friends “seriously considering cancelling their Facebook” …social media isn’t mandatory. We all can make it without knowing what our friends are eating, where our friends are vacationing, how pretty everyone is, and without random facts supporting political viewpoints. Right?

It’s a choice. I try and tell my kids …the minute social media starts stressing you out, and you’re looking at social media more than you’re exercising or sleeping or doing worthwhile things …stop. You can make it in the world without SnapChat. I mean it. 

And it’s all about the algorithms. We know the algorithms track what you watch, Like, Comment on, and Follow and then, the algorithms serve you more of the same. So if you comment on your friends post about COVID vaccine, and share an article from TanzaniaCOVIDRaiders.com, and Like a photo of Dr. Fauci with devil horns …guess what? Your Facebook timeline will fill up with that and you’ll say “social media sucks”. If you’re on Twitter and you follow newsy things, Tucker Carlson and Anderson Cooper type people, and you Retweet stuff about the election …although Twitter is much less algorithmy … Twitter will deliver what it thinks you want and like. 

So, knowing all this …don’t quit social media. To me, that’s like saying “I’m quitting email” or “I’m quitting texting because most of my texts are tasks and commentary from my family about what I should do, where I need to be at what time, and what we need at the store.”  That’s ridiculous, right? So is stewing and fuming over social media.

Instead, make the algorithm work for you. I don’t follow or Like or Comment on anything political or COVID vaccine related and instead, I Like friends family photos, I Follow various motivational speakers and Catholic things, and coffee things and …well, waddya know? I just scrolled through my Facebook to prove myself right and here were the main posts I saw …

  1. Many friends memorializing my friend Matt who passed away three years ago
  2. A colleague just closed on his first home
  3. A friend’s dog died (and I commented how sad I am for him)
  4. Many many high school and college friends posting pictures of their kids at Homecoming all dressed up and I “Liked” them all and even commented “va va voom” (possibly inappropriately, but funny) on one
  5. A friend posting pictures of her sons wedding
  6. 65% off Michigan State stuff
  7. My sister posting a 9th picture (out of 10) of her h.s. senior …my nephew
  8. A boot ad
  9. A friend ran a marathon
  10. A headphone ad
  11. A coffee ad
  12. A friend dressed up funny for “early Halloween”
  13. A quote from the Bible as a meme

Proves my point. Everything I see on social media is uplifting, interesting to me because of the people posting, and I’ve Liked and Commented enough on all these things that Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter know I like Michigan State, motivational quotes, friends and their pictures, and coffee …oh, and it knows I’m shopping for a badass pair of boots that go with nice jeans and can be worn to work …maybe cuff the jeans a little to show off my loud socks. Solid.

In conclusion (I know, one should never write that) …I hope my kids read this. I hope they realize social media should be fun and interesting ONLY and the minute it isn’t, either delete the app or learn to avoid the stuff that upsets you. Just imagine a teenager saying, “I don’t use social media …just text or call me. Social media is stupid.”  I think that would be the coolest most interesting teenager in America. 

We all know a bee hive, if agitated, will have negative consequences.

So think of social media like a bee hive …or like the terrible books my Mom would read and force herself to finish. Put it down (by which I mean quit it) or start reading another book (by which I mean force the algorithm to lift you up, inspire, and entertain you).

Oh, and follow me on Twitter. 

5 Comments on “Social Media, Part 1

  1. Interesting points here….but as one of the 50-somethings who declared leaving social-media due to being a stressor, I do have the following rebuttals to make behind my decision to leave it.

    1. Social Media is truly addictive…so it is akin to giving up something like smoking (which took me 7 tries before it finally took). I mean, I’m not going to go into a church basement with bad coffee and stale donuts and say, “Hi…my name is Krik and I’m an Instaholic”…but it is very much an addiction…much like smoking, playing videogames….or even watching too much TV.

    2. The one thing I did say during my “declaration” was that the stressors and news feed topics….the algorithms, if you will…were caused by me. It is my fault that this happened. It is my fault that even though I’ve had many folks who’ve agreed with me, cheered me on, and have liked what I had to say….I also managed to alienate many friends and family in doing so. Also, it is very important to note that our own use of Facebook doesn’t control the algorithms 100%. Even with the innocuous activity that you cited on your feed…FB is still doing data mining on your account in ways that you may not like…and still not know it…but it will reflect in the output of information (or misinformation) that you do get. It’s not that overt, believe me. With all that’s transpired in news lately with Facebook….the timing of my departure seems to be the best play. So I could change my activity to change the output on my feed…but that leads me to Point 3.

    3. I’ve lost interest in it. Part of it has to do with the fact that really….do people really care that much about what I do everyday? Should they? Am I doing this to make friends like me more? Am I feeding my own narcissistic tendencies? I believe that I have done so and for quite some time. The epiphany came when I started “unfollowing” a few friends, not because of the content they post…but because of the frequency of which they post. Some were posting 20 – 30 times a day…and that’s a bit much….and then i realized that I have, for the most part, done the same thing. I don’t want to be that guy. Although I am sorta doing that right now on your blog….so I still need to work on that.

    4. For me, Facebook has served to divide rather than unite…and I, along with millions of others, played a role in that division….and it seems fitting to quote the 80’s movie “WarGames” (fitting since we’re talking algoritms and learning AI here) when at the end of the movie, JOSHUA declares, “Interesting game. The only way to win is not to play.” Especially if I have nothing to gain in continuing to stay on. Facebook was fun for me…now it’s not.

    There is nothing noble about removing myself from a toxic environment that I helped create. I suppose I *could* be part of the solution…but I’m not out to change world anymore….I just want to live in it with a little noise as possible.

    Sorry (not sorry) for long-winded rebuttal….but did want to clarify my intentions since you tagged me on the post.

    Later dude!
    Krik

    • a) I love you and LOVE you commented so thoughtfully. b) I hope you’re not mad at me …this was as much thinking of you as it is my kids – more so my kids. c) I like you. Your funny posts are damn funny. I don’t think it’s Facebragging when you post from a cruise ship or from Oat Soda …mostly when i see those posts I think, “Don, someday you’re going on a cruise, or to Oat Soda, with Tim & J. The cruise might not ever happen BUT it’s fun to think about and how much fun it would be (Groove Cruise, baby!). So I guess I’m saying to you, I would miss ya on Facebook …but of course I’m lucky we have another giant timewasting App where we see each other all the time. I don’t know what I’m saying.

      • Love ya back brother…and not mad at all. Never say never on a cruise….and dude…anytime you wanna go hoist a few at Oat Soda with us….just let me know and we’ll meet you there.

  2. Oh…one other thing….I’d love get back into reading one book a week like your Mom did….I used to be able to read 40….now I’m lucky to get through 10 a year.

    I’m not posting as much, because I am committing to spend a portion of my free time to read at least 50 pages a day.

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