Teenagers now average almost half of the amount of sleep that their counterparts did just a decade ago. Teenagers are finding themselves mostly distracted, lost and overwhelmed. And sadly the reasons have nothing to do with the academic pressure they face at school or at home. Its because of the unrelenting pressure they face to keep up with their online presence via social media.

Social media never gives kids privacy and makes them grow up too fast. It never allows for any downtime. Its so ubiquitous, the space and time for a private thought has become really scarce.

SnapChat, Instagram and Facebook are venues for group signaling. Signaling goods signal status and affiliation to other “like minded” monkeys. Signaling goods can be physical – handbags, watches and fancy cars. They can be virtual – political, religious, and tribal affiliations. Social media makes it easier to signal wealth via conspicuous consumption of goods like food, travel and clothing. Editorial outrage is a signaling good. News outlets have switched from facts to opinions and outrage. Social media has degenerated into a deafening cacophony of groups signaling and repeating their shared myths.
~ Naval Ravikant

Why Social media has gathered a huge following: 

  • It feels empowering and participatory.
  • It feels like it enhances our expression of individuality.
  • While TV makes us inert, social media makes us form our own opinions.
  • It lets us speak our mind via opining on our (Facebook) walls.
  • We can signal goods to show our standing in society. Just look at Kylie Jenner’s Instagram feed if you want to know what I mean.
  • It meets the unsatisfying need of the endless scroll, unlike books that have a last page. Its designed to be addictive in the same way Netflix and YouTube have autoplay functionality in them. And how Snapchats have streaks to make people keep posting stories daily to maintain their streak.
  • Young adults post sexually arousing selfies, making them part of the thirst trap excitement.

Facebook literally changes your relationship with society, with each other. It probably interferes with productivity in weird ways. God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains. It’s a social-validation feedback loop… exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with, because you’re exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology. The inventors, creators … understood this consciously, and we did it anyway.
~ Sean Parker, Facebook’s first president

How to use Social media optimally: 

  • Remember social media is a choice. Is your current interaction with your smart phone in your best interest or is it serving the big tech, FAANG? (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google)
  • There’s real life happening around you while you’re watching celebrities live flashy endorsement rich lifestyles at your cost.
  • Understand why you’re being drawn to the internet, are there times and days you’re drawn to it more?
  • Thanks to social media you’ll become aware of all the clothes and fancy tools you don’t have. But, is there an end to how much clutter you can accumulate?
  • Set expectations with yourself and with others about your use of the medium. Stop the mania of having to reply immediately.
  • If you find yourself being tethered to the internet, just take note of how fragmented your attention is becoming.

‘I think we have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works. The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops we’ve created are destroying how society works. No civil discourse, no cooperation; misinformation, mis-truth. And it’s not an American problem — this is not about Russians ads. This is a global problem.’
~ Chamath Palihapitiya, Former VP of Facebook

Technology is here to stay, what do we do? 

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve written about the benefits of technology when I made a case for it. The problem arises when adults don’t know how to use digital devices optimally and don’t teach their children to do the same.

We become smart consumers of technology when we use it to make our lives more meaningful and satisfying. We enrich our lives with technology only when we set an intention on how we plan to use the internet, smart phones and social media to our advantage.

Truth About Tech: How Tech Has Kids Hooked

 

 

Further Reading: 

Read about how we’re hurtling towards a Digital Derailment

AND read about how to practice Digital minimalism

 

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