When I was still on Facebook, I used to post a video of Sean Parker admitting that the founders of that site and other popular social media applications used basic psychology to trap users. I didn’t post the video to announce how much smarter and in control I was compared to fellow Facebook users (I was part of the dimwitted masses), but as far as I know, Parker was one of the first to come out and say, “Here’s what we did, and why we did it, and now I think it wasn’t a good idea.”
I finally left Facebook for good about six months ago, and even though at that point it wasn’t really a major factor as far as daily time wasted, I just didn’t want it to be a part of my day at all. So now it isn’t.
I think people forget how much we used to get done before Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and all the shitty “look at me dance” video apps that I won’t mention by name. It’s laughable. And you’re an idiot if you’re an avid user. Be honest with yourself.
Unless you’re a teenager, there is a strong possibility you still remember the world before social media. Media manipulation and mass advertising came through television, print, and whatever websites you visited, but there was still a disconnect. An on/off button existed, because our phones weren’t yet super-computers. YouTube and Google and the rest of the apps weren’t constantly shaking hands to keep us connected and scrolling.
In my thirties, the apps were there, they just didn’t really do much. It was cool to see what some people were up to, but nothing really came of it. About a year ago, everyone became an epidemiologist. Then a political expert. I had already seen that movie a few times before, though. Every American election cycle gives voice to psychological bias and unchecked stupidity. This one was a little bit worse. So 2020 was the last gasp for me. I cannot believe the amount of idiocy propagated through media designed to exploit the masses. It’s a shame I was ever a part of it. Soon, I will retire from the other apps too.
No more people whining and not doing anything about their unhappiness, which was magnified by the app through which they are whining.
No more dipshit morons wringing their hands about “the state of things” in which they barely participate. Hunching over a keyboard with poorly-research “facts” doesn’t count, Username.
No more glamourous influencers jamming their piece-of-shit products down my throat. No more subpar music clogging my brainwaves while some hip waif styles the freshest drip in the latest colorway. Those shoes came out when I was a kid, my guy, and they were fifty dollars cheaper. But yeah, please let me get them in bright green or orange.
Unbelievable, how we let these apps run us.
This is a question I have asked for a few years, and I think I will continue to put it out there:
“In forty years, when your life is mostly behind you, how do you want to be defined? Do you want to look back and say, ‘I pissed away my best years being manipulated by a software application that was designed to keep me trapped through psychological weakness’?”
It’s not easy to admit how much time we’ve wasted on these things. I know. When work from home became the thing this year, I spent more than two full weeks in a Call of Duty game. As in 14 full days, 15 hours, and some change. Oh, sure, it was fun. We ran our mouths and made some pretty cool videos. The highlight was winning a match with two elementary students. First-graders, dude.
However, at some point near the end of the year, I just kept thinking, “Jesus, man, you’re 41. Forty-one. How much longer can you get online and be okay with spending even an hour a day mindlessly gripping a controller?” I couldn’t get the idea out of my head that out of 52 weeks in a year, I spent two full weeks on a single game. That doesn’t even include time spent in other games.
I started keeping informal track of my time spend digitally. What I found was unsettling: thirty hours a week between an Xbox and apps on a cell phone. But yeah, I “don’t have time.” Lies.
So, now that January–which is by far the shittiest month of the year–is more than half over, it’s time to become even more accountable. The software created by smarter people to keep me trapped and complacent have a chief design flaw: I have to turn them on before they can waste my time.
I hope that as the vaccine rollouts continue we will start to see reality become a little more real, as opposed to what the screens tell us, but it will take a while before that happens. In the meantime, try something: keep track of where the time goes, and see if you’re any happier. If not, make some changes.