2018-04-12 / Viewpoint

The VIEW from here

Prescient peace of mind
Alex Petrie
Staff Writer

The satisfaction of being right ranks quite high for me. Not much else comes close. It’s right up there with the failure of my enemies and the sound of an

ATM dispensing my money. So, surely you can imagine the mixed emotions

I’ve been feeling about the whole Facebook data scandal. That’s because, as you may or may not remember, the last column I wrote for the View was in regards to the potential disaster the internet has come to represent. And, ladies and gentlemen, I’m afraid it hath revealed itself, laying bare the multitude of horrors belying its hashtags.

In that column, I ranted and I blustered about the perils of social media sites. To wit, “We believed that social media was a tool to be used for good, for connection, for relationships. And now it’s become obvious that it’s not much more than a tool for the people that are running it. They have access to every aspect of your lives. They use their technology and algorithms to reinforce your biases, your beliefs, your thoughts. However ugly or ill-informed they may be.”

Notice I used the word ‘your’ when describing the adverse effects of social media. This is because I had recently deleted the last remnant of these sites from my cell phone —Instagram. But I digress. This isn’t me saying ‘I told you so,’ because I’m sure similar warnings had been raised long before my column was published. This is me saying that the relief of removing yourself from social media is real. This is me saying, ‘Come. Join me.’ Because, unless it’s for your business, I can personally guarantee you that you won’t be missing anything. There are literally hundreds (probably thousands) of other ways to keep in contact with people while maintaining relative privacy.

Anyway. All petty satisfaction aside, I feel a noticeable weight lifted from my mind. I realized that each time I was on Instagram, I’d start to feel this subconscious but palpable mental swelling, a crescendo of antipathy as a small mountain of cynicism slowly grew. I was starting to hate everyone I followed, and I wasn’t quite sure why.

After distancing myself, I realized that feeling was caused by overexposure to the simple and fatuous psychology behind the social media sites we know today. Each post contains within it a transparent thought process, a self-serving cultivation of whatever, hoping that others will think a certain thing about you, then sitting back and begging for approval, for endorsement and support to roll in with each ‘like.’

It was creating a feeling of familiarity with these people that simply did not exist, to the point that I would subconsciously hold tiny grudges against them for each stupid post. And now that I have no idea what’s going on in these people’s lives or how annoying their captions are, I find that I’m friendlier when I run into them in the real world. I’ve learned that (most of the time) the best way to win a fight in today’s world is to walk away. So give it a try. See how you feel.

Also, even though I would never actually say it out loud, it feels good to know that I told you so.

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