#128 Social Media – ‘The Internet Is Bad For Your Mental Health’

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When I was at primary school we had two distinct play areas; one for 7 years+ and the other was for the younger kids. I was younger, we were shut away, separated and divided by… well not a lot really, the playgrounds were actually joined together, but just like oil and water we never intermingled. Kids running around like little oily molecules. This was a problem for me because my friend Kevin was a year older than me. That meant we were cruelly kept apart, a budding friendship prematurely cut short, separated by nothing, literally nothing, just thin air.

As tragic as that period of my life was it taught me a valuable lesson. It taught me that controlling of environments is not always a bad thing. OK, separating a 6 year old from a 7 year old to protect the former from the hardships of later life is a little extreme, but the principle is there.

We, as humans, typically segregate our lives by age. Think; who can mix with you in cinemas? who can drink with you in a bar? who can drive? when can we marry? and so on. Then we have young people going to school, slightly older people going to university and people of a certain age at work. Then theres lifestyle choices which separate us into further groups, such as hobbies and beliefs. So far, this is not a revelation, although I should point out that the only revelation in this post, is that there is no revelation.

The effect of this is that, in real life at anyone one moment, we are typically surrounded by people of similar age with relatively similar interests. This means the basis of humour evolves independently in that group, as does the style, and so typically do macro beliefs. That is why kids here in Austria are loving the hip hop dance move called ‘dabbing’. To us people outside of this group we think this is the young impressionable mind trudging along to the tune of some big company. This is of course as we simultaneously debate whether Apple is better than Android or whether John Lewis’ Christmas ad made you cry. The older group outside of this then thinks that this is just the young impressionable mind trudging along to the tune of some big company.

The story continues, but the bottom line is the same we are always kept in our little groups, so safe and nice. Oh how lovely.

Enter; THE INTERNET.

This fucks up disrupts everything. We are thrown into this melting pot where no one knows which group is which, no one really knows who anyone is. It is a free for all. The man who loves legitimately debating politics with friends at home is thrust into a comment war with a 15 year old troll who doesn’t understand or care about the issues.

The equilibrium is history.

Of course we are slowly rectifying this, we have social networks to funnel us into groups and we have our favourite websites, which are followed by similar people. Ultimately though there are no playground boundaries, everyone is allowed everywhere, which is both beautiful and destructive in its own way. The internet is a 3 year old throwing its alphabet spaghetti into your face.

As the internet is just in its infancy, these things will be ironed out over time, but at the moment we are left to do the controlling of our environment ourselves. Unfortunately, if there is something humans are terrible at, it is deciding what is good for us. That is why websites champion freedom and offer controlling tools at our discretion – they know we won’t use them. They are there though, we can block people, mute people, ban words and phrases, we can choose which sites to visit and what to put into a search engine.

Since I joined the social media world a few months ago I have been doing precisely this. My Twitter is the biggest casualty; the list of banned words grows by the day – Politics, for one, is out.

The natural assertion here is to say that someone who blocks politics on Twitter is not interested in politics, but that would be incorrect. Especially as I am very much into politics, but the method of delivery cannot be understated here. Getting political information via Twitter is like being slapped in the face with a wet fish in a spontaneous drive-by, and then being asked which ocean I think the fish enjoyed most on holiday 4 years ago. I don’t want to get my political information in the form of 140 characters. If there is one way to over simplify complex issues, it is by squeezing it into 140 characters. So that is gone, no politics on either side.

Another casualty is the big news websites. What I discovered is that you can control what information appears on their homepage. Again this is controlled and tailored to my needs, so I switched it to happier news. Strangely, being surrounded by more positive news and less twitter cat fighting has made for a happier disposition.

I suppose you could argue it is ignorant bliss, but that would only be the case if you don’t get the relevant – and factually accurate – information elsewhere. For this though I typically turn to print media. A book is a wonderful thing and it takes way more time, effort and research to publish than a 140 character tweet. Plus if it is useless you can use it in any number of other ways that Twitter can’t be. For instance; you can stand on it to reach things that are about 1 inch too high, you can burn it for a short lived fuel source, you can draw on it, make paper aeroplanes, a door wedge, weapon, one big domino with no numbers on it, a bad hat and the list goes on.

I am certain in the future we will be back in our little groups digitally as well as physically, but at the moment I do have to settle for the odd delusional right wing facist Piers Morgan popping into my life. So here I am on my internet diet, slimming down and stream lining the information that hits my face. No more wet fish for me.

Mindfump.

 

 

Read more, its good for you.

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#123 Tired – ‘Extending Battery Life’

#122 Religion – ‘Stripping On A Sunday’

44 Comments

  1. Alex R Carver

    I haven’t reached the point of censoring my twitter feed, but that’s mostly because I pay very little attention to it. I do however make a special effort not to get involved in any political debates, I foresee nothing but bad stuff by doing that.
    If I could avoid the ‘net entirely, I would, I struggle with connecting with people at the best of times, and I find doing it over the ‘net a confusing process because there’s just so many people out there and it’s so completely random, I like a little more order and structure.
    It’s good to know that people are finding ways of filtering out the unhappy and viewing only the more positive things, that’s got to be better for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Paul Green

      I think the internet is fabulous for so many things, I just the ‘100% on’ method doesn’t work. Too much of anything is a bad thing, give it a try and see how it works out. Worst case scenario is you go back to what you had before.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. notdonner

    it was so much better to live in ignorance! the days when you differentiated a fool, a bigot, a pseudo-intellectual and a middle-of-the-road, leave-me-in-peace type, by the bumper sticker are gone. Now everyone with a cell phone can stir up trouble. Of course, I am talking about cat videos, politics, and religion!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. thelplatemummy

    Great post!! I hadn’t viewed the internet quite like that, but it makes sense.
    The shame of it is that I find myself getting angry at middle age women who misuse the word troll and use dank memes incorrectly.
    Memes are like commas, if you’re u sure of their use then leave them out.

    Love from a middle age woman who knows when it’s appropriate to use a meme.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. suitecitywoman

    Well, I sure hope you’re right when you say “these things will be ironed out over time”. Maybe I’m just of part the “older kids” group that are slowly losing hope in the spaghetti-throwing age groups.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Paul Green

      I don’t doubt it, every generation in history was worried for the next generation but if you look at 50 year increments throughout human history, the world never fails to improve in some way. History is on our side.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. summerSHINES

    This is very intelligent and I like how you’ve broken down social media and how it affects us psychologically in a new way that I haven’t thought of myself till you said it. Damn you 😛 I am a ruthless blocker and unfollower. Rather than argue with people I just stop reading what they write via regular pruning of what appears in my feed. I’m highly sensitive, if I get stung with social media stinging nettles, blocking and unfollowing is my metaphorical dock leaf. It provides relief from the sting. Who wants to get stung? Nobody. Yet people allow it to happen on the Internet a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Small Island Thinker

    At the height of my panic attacks the first thing I did was remove myself from social media. Strangely I found it easier than I expected and amazingly cathartic. Now I only go on when I want to rather than because I think I need to. There’s only so many grammatical errors and pictures of people photographing their dinner I can take before I meltdown.

    Like

  7. Next Level Blogging

    I remember that playground separation. We were stuck with hopscotch and jumprope while older kids played kickball and 4-square. Oh, how I couldn’t wait to crush at 4-square.
    Interesting post.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. willo

    Love what you wrote here SO MUCH:
    “Getting political information via Twitter is like being slapped in the face with a wet fish in a spontaneous drive-by, and then being asked which ocean I think the fish enjoyed most on holiday 4 years ago. I don’t want to get my political information in the form of 140 characters.”

    Yes, yes! Don’t tell my husband how much I love you right now. He’ll be so jealous. 🙂

    I’m pretty selective about social media. Blogs are my “social media” of choice. I prefer longer form written works. BOOKS are even better, but too many cool people haven’t written one yet. So here we are.

    Liked by 1 person

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