The modern philosopher T.K. Coleman recently published a blog post that really struck me. The whole thing can be found here and it is really short (as his musing tend to be). It is this final paragraph get me thinking:
When your time on this earth runs out, you don’t want to be one of the ones who say “I wish I hadn’t spent so much time making nuanced arguments in the comments section of a Facebook post I didn’t really care that much about.”
It makes me wonder, is this what the new generation is going to regret in the future? Our parents and grandparents lament spending so much time at the office, but we seem to have traded the work office for social media. Instead of grinding away like a cog in a machine in order to make money to buy things we don’t need, we sit in a chair and scream at a screen in order to try and change minds that won’t listen.
The generation alive today has more access to leisure and a higher standard of living than has ever been seen in the history of humankind, and many of us (myself included) spend time and mental resources trying to change minds or surrounding ourselves in a like-minded online circle jerk where we feel superior to the dumb masses who won’t listen to our wisdom.
There are exceptions, of course, as there are with all things. Social media can be an amazing tool that makes our lives better. I have been exposed to incredible conversations, met some amazing people, and had my life expanded in uncountable ways because of the internet. I wouldn’t have the political and spiritual beliefs I have without the internet. I wouldn’t have found comfort when I was struggling with my bisexual feelings without the internet. I wouldn’t have found a partner who desires sexual variety that can include other people without the internet. I wouldn’t have discovered the healing power of MDMA and other drugs without the internet.
But, the internet (and the social media it includes) is a tool that can cut both ways. It is a chef’s knife that can cut vegetables to provide nurishment for the body or it can be used to slit the wrists of yourself and others. Dosage matters, intention matters, and how responsible and healthy we are when we use this tool matters.
I won’t be giving up Facebook, but I do know that it can be a drug for me that damages my life. It can make my life worse, so I put up blocks to prevent me from having future regrets. The app on my computer keeps my time on Facebook to less than 45 minutes and I’ve deleted Facebook from my phone. I know my areas of weakness. Maybe if I lived 50 years ago I would be a workaholic and my life would have been a shadow of what it could have been. Today, I could easily be a Facebookaholic and neglect my relationships and my own life for the short-term positive feedback of seeing a new “like” or the feeling of superiority that comes from having people agree with you in an echo-chamber.
Recognition is half the battle. I know my areas of weakness and who I desire to be. I know that my life will be better off if I go for a walk on the beach, read some books on science or poetry or Buddhism or evolution or psychology, meditate, write, exercise, make new friends, flirt with new people, or try some new sex stuff. Life should be experienced with all the senses, our energy should go towards maximizing our potential, not staring at a work ledger or refreshing Facebook newsfeeds.