Media Trap

It’s 2020, you can run, but you can’t hide from media. It’s in your face, it’s on our screens, it’s popping up at you, it’s embedded in most emails, but does it have to be? Can we choose what we see and keep our minds free of the mindless scrolling that big social media companies compete for?

We don’t have to. We can control our lives and surround ourselves with the media we choose and keep out the garbage.

I’m going to keep this as a broader category that will include: books, podcasts, music, news, email, text messages, notifications, pop ups, social media platforms, and probably a lot of new forms I don’t even know about.

In short the goal is to control your own attention. The wealthiest companies in the world are currently in a battle for your attention. There’s an uncomfortably easy solution to fight against their power; own your attention. Delete apps that outrage you, outrage leads to more time on a platform. If a platform doesn’t enrich your life, don’t use it and delete the app.

Facebook was awesome to start. 2004, I was in college where you could see what other people were up to. It was worth checking, uploading pictures from a digital camera, and finding out who people were. In 2020 I deleted the app because all I was doing was looking at history and what I did 10 years ago. Occasionally browsing through to see what was going on in my town’s group. Waste of time. I deleted that shit and I feel great. I wasn’t getting anything out of laughing at locals bickering online and the historical pictures aren’t even worth looking at. But going to the app I would inevitably spend more than the 5 minutes necessary to browse what I was looking for.

Comparison is the death of joy.

In comes Instagram. The death of joy. Try going on that app and not losing 30 minutes of your life. It’s the most addicting app I’ve ever opened. Friend’s stories, edited photos, vacations you can only dream of, celebrities doing things, it’s a dream come true for anyone interested in getting a glimpse of other people’s lives. We are all curious by nature and of course we’ll find this look into other’s lives interesting.

The problem is that the pictures people share aren’t real life. It’s an edited, filtered, curated look at their life.

2020 and the shelter in place, the global pandemic, the Covid 19 crises, has created this weird dynamic where we still can stay in touch with people through this weird medium where we signal our beliefs through a filtered, masked up selfie. We connect to ideas that social media influencers have influenced us to follow regardless of how accurate those ideas are. We can live in our own worlds these days while feeling more connected than ever, all the while having no connection to real life or even the truth. If all the people you follow believe that Covid 19 is a hoax and you spend 3 hours a day looking at pictures, videos, and hand picked news articles with this narrative, guess what? You’re going to believe it. You’re going to fall victim to being influenced. And I don’t blame you, you have an addictive application designed to keep your attention that is constantly reinforcing the beliefs of what keeps you engaged on the application. If you interact with anti mask wearing photos, guess what? You will see more curated content that will reinforce your engagement and continue the brainwashing.

It’s so easy to get stuck in this game. My town does a lot of updates through Instagram, you want to know menu specials or hours, just look at their story. I would find myself opening up the app to look something up and 30 minutes later all I did was look at golf memes. This isn’t a game we have to play. Take the power back. You want to see a menu? Go to Yelp, find the website and look there. Don’t allow your mind to be taken over, we don’t have enough time on this earth to be spent in a stupor in a virtual world. There’s so much more that we can focus our energy on, so much beauty in the real world, so much more we can get out of an in person conversation than a comment on a filtered photo. We can make the choice, it’s up to us.

Vote with your attention is the new vote with your dollars.

You hear people say vote with your dollars, you don’t want something to be successful? Don’t buy it. Your dollar is a vote. This dynamic is changing to vote with your attention. Don’t give out your limited attention where you don’t want it. Set the social media time limits on your phone and follow it, better yet, delete that which doesn’t bring you joy.

Why give trillion dollar companies more ammo when they are just looking to capitalize on how your mind works and then sell that to other companies. We can live better lives when we don’t subject our selves to this. Our relationships with friends and families are not supposed to be leveraged to advertise toothpaste to us, so don’t allow it. We can’t reward the systemic bad behavior of these massive companies.

Odds are if you’re reading a long blog that you are already on your way of filtering your media diet. I urge you to continue this by limiting the apps on your phone and limiting the time you spend on your phone. Better yet, let’s set out to live a life that is so interesting that we don’t need to spend time on our phones.