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  • Writer's pictureericjcarrig

Stop the social media frenzy in 2023

Updated: Mar 3, 2023

As the calendar tick-tocked down on 2022, the planet, and democracy, Solutions for the Under-affiliated discussed how we are bombarded with carefully-crafted micro-messages on CNN, FoxNews, TikTok, Facebook and other media that push and pull our heart strings, so we become anxious with fear, frustration, and jealousy.

Our blood races, but there is nothing for us to do about issues related to education, public safety, economic justice, or human rights. We don’t have time to think about, let alone act on, these issues, but we are in an emotional state where everything is urgent and important and out to get us.

Meanwhile, most of us don’t directly feel the impact of the issues that ignite so much outrage on social media.

Some of us work in a field like education, chemical production, healthcare, or food service for example, so see how their companies and industries in which they work impact society

Others have experienced the issues first hand. They have had to navigate the healthcare system with little extra money to pay for a loved one’s care. They have been touched by a school shooting or know someone who has. They have been the victim of injustice based on race, gender or disability?

But most of us don’t experience the pain and suffering caused by the issues other than on the news or social media. Neither are reliable sources for information to help us make decisions related to issues like economic justice, education, healthcare, climate change, or human rights.

Yet that is where we spend our time learning about them.

Most of us scroll, swipe and comment here and there. We may share our best images of ourselves, friends and family.

Other than sharing our happiest moments, social media is all opinion and meant to make us feel love, hate and frustration, not necessarily the truth. Media earn money from misinformation and marginalize expertise because it reduces the ability of their taking heads to make us upset and to feel inadequate.

In addition to not being able to spend time on “the issues” and not experiencing their negative consequences, we tend to look for what we already believe and want to see and hear. The algorithms used by social media platforms adjust to our preferences, so we see more of what we most recently viewed, limiting the range of topics, ideas and images, we get.

Repeating social or political messages make our opinions even stronger. Those opinions form our picture of the world around us and shrink it to an echo chamber of reinforcing images and beliefs. The cityscape shrinks to the neighborhood of the like-minded to only what is going on in our heads.

We lose track of the truth — what is real. It’s just custom content that reinforces what we already feel. It’s typically not joy, but anger, frustration and the fear of missing out or losing our freedom and future.

We are left to wade throw the good and the bad without a light and Google Map.

With its ability to individualize content both through algorithms and targeted, anonymous comments, social media can be isolating, and therefore, has the power to crush someone’s self-esteem and hope .

Instead of leaders to guide us, we have tribal pitchmen, telling us what we will lose … that we should be afraid. With every scroll, we only see things designed to make us jealous or angry. While we invest our emotional energy in social media, it provides nothing but fear, inadequacy, and hopelessness.

We know we are being manipulated, so don’t trust anyone or anything, but we follow along. We don’t have time to figure this out.

We can change social media if we demand more from ourselves and others in terms of the facts they post.

First, pause before posting. The anger on social media is caused by frustration with life in general. Why add to someone’s fire or your own blood pressure? No one on social media is going to come up with a solution.

Second, ask questions of the ranters and ravers about their facts and opinions. You’d like to learn more. What is their motivation? Who and what are their sources? Is it research by an expert or some unknown or unnamed source or based “influence”?

Third, take your own next step and seek the truth. Social media doesn’t provide context for any facts it presents. It only reflects what people are feeling, thinking and doing in that moment. It is impossible to present and consume the facts and context necessary to form an objective opinion.

Find research reports and investigative studies published by trained professionals to form opinions, not baseless grand proclamations fly politicians and talking heads who have an agenda — profit and power.

Fourth, why keep watching what makes you feel anxious and angry? Just walk away. Let it go. Engage with people and activities on a more personal, meaningful level right where you are.

Last, we are responsible for our own manipulation as long as we create and view content that aims to make people outraged or jealous. We need to feel something more than frustration and isolation when we put down our phones, so do and say something positive when you are on it.

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