The Social Dilemma: why I’ve decided not to have any more social media!
Anyone who is trying to launch any kind of business or enterprise in today’s world knows how important social media can be to attracting interest and creating traction.
Unfortunately, managing social media can be exhausting, time consuming/wasting and damaging and to be perfectly honest – I hate it.
Watching the recent Netflix documentary ‘The Social Dilemma’ only confirmed what I already knew which is that these platforms are manipulating people by feeding their addiction. They do this by monitoring their every post, comment and action and then feed their addiction by producing more of the same to suck them in even further.
I particularly worry for people who are susceptible to mental health problems especially those who have schizophrenia or psychosis because many of them already think that they are being ‘watched’ and monitored through the phone networks and channels and social media tracking just amplifies the paranoia.
Why I personally struggle with social media
In 2017, after the ketamine fiasco that nearly killed me, I pulled all of my social media sites down, in truth because I thought I was going to kill myself and I didn’t want my eulogy to be played out on Facebook!
But I also knew that seeing my friends getting married, building their extensions, and having their third kid didn’t really help my mood when I was crippled with depression and stuck living with my parents well into my thirties.
So I know it’s not beneficial to be scrawling social media if you are susceptible to mental illness but how the hell do I reach and help people if I don’t have any?
This is the question I’ve been pondering all weekend and I finally came to a conclusion about it all last night which I will discuss with you now.
Weighing up the pros and cons
On Saturday morning I was looking at ways to increase traction to a blog or website on google. Loads of advice came up, (because Google is watching me!), some of which I’ve already done like changing the SEO on Google searches and making the site sharable etc. Anyway, what do you think the other marketing tools were? Of course! Bloody social media.
I read that one girl had increased her blog’s traction by 30,000 hits through the social media platform ‘Pinterest’ so I decided to set up a page and find out how it all works.
I spent hours of my weekend reading about ‘Tailwind’ for optimum scheduling, paying for advertising and how to create a pin, add a link and get ‘followers’. By Saturday afternoon I was getting pretty fed up with it but was still of the mindset that social media was going to be the answer to increasing traction and getting noticed.
I spent the next 36 hours pondering the social dilemma…..
But why do I need to get noticed?
This is a really good question and one I keep asking myself daily. I started this new blog because I want to get my book published and without a demonstration of my knowledge and writing ability, I know that I won’t be able to get an agent and reach the people that need the book.
Everyone keeps telling me to self-publish but that’s costly and I don’t have a way of marketing it without social media followers.
I’ve been rejected twice now by literary agents just because I don’t have 2 million followers on Instagram, I don’t think they even read a word of what I’ve written.
I do understand that publishing is about making money but what about saving lives? Isn’t that important too? The whole thing is so frustrating.
Getting an agent as a first-time writer seems to be an impossible feat. My friend who has a PhD in French Philosophy from Cambridge University, is a research fellow at UCL, an uber brain and immensely talented writer is also trying to get one.
But even though she has produced a beautifully written, unbelievably candid and fascinating memoir she still can’t get any interest in it either. It’s an incredibly difficult and competitive industry to get into but we are both encouraging each other to keep going because we both really rate each other’s manuscripts.
Anyway, I do have some interest now so let’s just keep our fingers and toes (and legs, and arms) crossed, and in the meanwhile I’ll just keep thrashing out more of these blog posts!
Why do I hate social media?
Apart from not wanting my eulogy played out on Facebook, I also dislike it for so many other reasons which I will now discuss:
I want to live my life in reality
When I see people taking selfies in public and then immediately uploading them to their social media it makes me cringe. They’re missing the moment by being glued to their phone and I don’t EVER want to be like that. I want to live my life in reality not virtual reality!
I don’t want to be a slave to notifications
Like most people I have an iPhone which I have to manage on a daily basis. I’m therefore attending to: phone calls, voicemails, texts, WhatsApps, and two email accounts (personal and work) BEFORE contending with any social media.
Now add in Facebook, (page and profile,) Facebook Messenger x 2, Twitter, Instagram, Instagram DM’s, Snapchat, TikTok, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Flickr, and Reddit and for those who are dating: Tinder, Grindr, Bumble, Happn, PLUS the thousands of others that I’ve neglected to mention.
With all of this to keep up with on a daily basis, you can start to see why people are going crazy.
When do they find time to live in reality by going for a walk, reading a book, watching a documentary, speaking to a friend face to face, or taking some time out for rest and relaxation?
Answer? They don’t. Oh dear.
I don’t want to be subjected to negativity
When I made the Facebook page for this site a few months ago, I had to create a profile to launch the page. Unfortunately, there was no way around this.
Anyway, I was subjected to the one thing I want to avoid in all of this almost immediately when I joined a depression group and commented on something. The admin of the group misinterpreted my message and sent a shirty reply to it and I immediately felt vilified and deleted the comment.
I’m writing on contentious issues on this blog and I’m sure there will be lots of people who disagree with what I say, which is fine because I’m all for freedom of speech and opinion, but I don’t want to get dragged into a damaging debate.
I don’t want people tracking my movements
I absolutely hate it when you go to a party and someone you barely know comes up to you and says ‘oh I saw you were with Marcus in Norfolk’ and thinking ‘how the hell do you know that?!’.
Facebook stalking is not cool. Similarly, I don’t want to be drawn into the temptation of stalking people either and there’s certain idiots from my past that I could really do without seeing at all. I know I can block, set privacy etc etc, but frankly I just can’t be bothered!
I don’t want to become reliant on validation from others
Getting validation from pictures and posts is the biggest reason that people upload stuff to social media – even if they deny this it’s true, and I’m just not going to get sucked into that game.
I know what it’s like from writing this blog every day, because I’ve started noticing that I’m wanting more and more hits and that’s addictive and hard to keep in check.
My only goal here is helping other people – I’m not Kim Kardashian and have no wish to be either! I’m not looking for validation or fame, I just need to reach people if I’m going to help them.
Annoyingly this means that I have to put myself out there, but I’m not going to do it by alienating my friends with a bombardment of posts on social media.
The social media ‘game’ is a dangerous one to play, in fact it should be renamed ‘anti’ social media because people now sit in a group together conversing through their phones and not through words and actions. Oh dear!
I’m annoyed with myself for wasting most of my weekend deliberating over something I had previously decided wasn’t any good for me. Anyway, after going for a long walk yesterday in the beautiful woods and valleys of South Oxfordshire I finally made a decision about it all, and I came back and deleted my Pinterest account.
I’m not going to be a fraud who says that social media is damaging and then has loads of platforms and accounts. I’ve got my LinkedIn personal account and the Facebook page, and that’s all I’m going to do.
I’m there if anyone wants to find me and if it means that I don’t reach enough people then so be it – I’m not going to compromise my own mental health by engaging in antisocial media, whether it means I get a book published or not.
At the end of the day, if my content is interesting enough surely it will get noticed and eventually reach people anyway? I’m no Jane Austen but I think I have a few valid points to make from this twenty-year psychiatric safari and the posts are shareable so I’m just going to rely on my loyal readers to spread the word and hope that I can do it that way?!
I’m sure I’ve missed many other points and factors regarding social media, and I’d love to know what others think of its effect on mental health so do please let me know your thoughts!
If you would like to watch The Social Dilemma documentary, then you can find it on Netflix and I have also added a clip of the programme below.
Thanks for reading,
Speak to you soon,