There is no doubt that computers are useful, and in some cases can provide important info. Just like electricity, they can be used for good and bad. They can look up something in an emergency or find a lost pet – but also for terrorism and child pornography.
Set your own filters. Taking a social media fast is one good starting point. Some people feel so happy and relieved, that they give up social media altogether. Install Brave (a wonderful quick browser that has Adblock automatically installed and works with DuckDuckGo (a private Chrome browser) on your computer. Get found less by those who want to sell you stuff!
Social media covers everything that steers you away from the website you are visiting. Years ago of course, we did not have any computers or Internet. These are obviously here to stay, but you can set your own filters, or come off all social media altogether. Make your own decisions. But don’t stay online, just because others tell you to.
- Facebook is the one that causes most concern. It has huge privacy, bullying and stalking issues, and you have to give them your soul, before you are allowed to join. It seems (along with Instagram) to have bred a generation of narcissists, who do nothing but take selfies and compare themselves to others.
- Twitter may seem simpler, as you just do 140 character tweets. But again you can’t join unless you give a personal phone number (all their phone numbers were recently accidentally sold on, though they’ve solved that issue now). But unless you are a journalist reporting from the field, there is no need. It’s like the playground: someone follows you, then you unfollow them, so they unfollow you. And to say what? No-one wants to know what you had for lunch.
- Linked In is known for business link-ups. But again, it’s a lot of faff. If you want to network, join the local Chamber of Commerce, and at least enjoy a nice lunch out, with an afternoon glass of wine. And a chat with real people.
- Pinterest is more visual (it’s actually a search engine). But aside from the one benefit of sometimes bringing traffic to your site, again it just fosters a comparison of the lives of others, instead of living your own.
All the above social media is free, but at what cost to your life? Try coming off all of them for a month, and see how much better you feel. If you decide to stick with one or two, make it a mission to simplify it, and only use when necessary. If you want to ‘friend’ someone, meet them down the pub!
I didn’t know what Facebook was. Now that I do know what it is – it sounds like a huge waste of time. Betty White
Jaron’s 10 Reasons to Delete Social Media
Former Silicon Valley entrepreneur Jaron Lanier has deleted all his social media, and thinks you should too. His book Ten Arguments for Deleting Social Media go more into detail of his quite persuasive reasons:
- You are losing your free will.
- It’s a finely targeted way to resist the insanity of our times.
- Social media makes you an arsehole!
- Social media is undermining truth
- Social media makes what you say meaningless
- Social media destroys your capacity for empathy
- Social media is making you unhappy
- Social media does not want you to have economic dignity
- Social media is making politics impossible
- Social media hates your soul
The Tide is Turning
Writer Paul Kingsnorth (who gave up most social media years ago) says that he ponders whether his heroes (like former Poet Laureate Ted Hughes) would have ever tweeted to ‘like this post’ in the midst of writing about the wonder of hawks, or whatever. He says ‘Social media is like a giant toilet that everyone keeps shitting in, but no-one will take responsibility for’.
You may know Sacha Baron Cohen as Ali G, the ‘white kid who wanted to be black’. He became famous in the US for Donald Trump walking out on an interview, when he tried to persuade him to invest in his business idea: his ‘ice cream glove’ that stopped ice cream from going on your hands that made it ‘well sticky’, but kept your hands warm, while you were eating it’. Donald did indeed smell a rat, but remained polite and left! However, recently Sacha (who in real life is a Cambridge history scholar, with Jewish heritage) was back in the news, for his speech against Facebook, saying it’s the greatest propaganda machine in history. He said that he believed ‘Facebook would have let Hitler buy ads for ‘the final solution’.
- Life Unplugged is is a digital detox workbook. Learn of alternative activities (they do exist!) that you can do, after unplugging for a while. Cultivate mindfulness and improve your mood and health, while also finding balance and joy in everyday life. It’s like a mini-holiday – without the cost of going away!
- Read The Joy of Missing Out. This book by writer Christina Crook saw her take a 31-day Internet fast, after hearing a Vicar ‘bless a Blackberry’ (the phone, not the fruit). She’s back online, but walking away for a month helped her set boundaries.
Does Small Business Need Social Media?
This is a bit like the story of the Emperor’s New Clothes. Everyone says you need social media, so eventually you believe it. But do you? Some say yes, others say no. What is more important is simply providing good content that helps others. Just add pin-it buttons for others to promote it, to save yourself the stress and hassle.
Leo Babauta is one of the most successful personal development bloggers in the world (over 2 million readers). He gave up all social media years ago, and never had that much in the first place. He runs no ads, has no social media and won’t endorse anything. Yet he earns a full-time passive income from his online courses and books, because he writes well, and helps people.
Keeping Children Safe Online
One good way is to get them off computers, and outside making mud pies. Richard Louv (who campaigns for children to get a daily dose of Vitamin N) writes that his interviews with doctors have found there are less broken bones (falling out of trees) but far more attention deficit disorder (stress) and repetitive strain syndrome (from playing video games).
Read Is Your Child Safe Online? to learn about the dangers and how to avoid them. You could set limits, but it’s more effective to get a good app like BARK, which lets children have their privacy and freedom, but still alerts you if anything is suspect (this app has saved thousands of incidents of bullying already, and stopped at least one school shooting in the US).
Also download Rethink App. Invented by a young Indian teen who was upset on hearing a girl her own age had committed suicide in Florida (due to alleged cyber-bullying), it basically reads the messages, and asks ‘do you really want to send this?’ In most cases, the sender has a change of heart, and the app has no doubt prevented countless teen suicides. You can report suspect activity at Internet Watch Foundation.