Listen now (10 mins) | The Sunday Edition
It’s a bit like the chicken and the egg, isn’t it? I like the question, and I think the answer, if there is one; rests inside many subtle nuances. I tend to look large picture first, so collectively we’re always on a path of evolution. This vortexes down to us individually. We’re a bit wired to crave freedom, and the traditional 9-5 has been asking for an overhaul. It sounds strange and shallow that someone can make thousands by reacting to others, but the upside is not being a slave to a system that isn’t fulfilling or fair most of the time. What I see, is that this type of technology is just another mirror we stare into; to see ourselves and others. Faults and all. This is how we grow and create. We’re always becoming the next version of ourselves. It’s my belief, and I’ve thought about this a lot…but I think the kids are alright. They’re going to go through trials in the natural progression the way others that came before have. But it will look so foreign to previous generations, because the future is never recognized. I think maybe it’s always been that way. As they grow, they have the benefit of seeing more than was ever possible. The whole world literally at their fingertips. Great song, btw! Much love xo
As a high school teacher, I have started to wonder if maybe the cell phones are a sign of the deteriorated and deteriorating mental health of my kiddos. I know for me, my phone is sometimes a connection to others, like here at the Signal Fire. Other times, I use it as a distraction from my anxiety or sadness or other things.
I’ve neen noticing which students are hardly ever on their phones versus the ones who can’t put them down. I think there’s a connection to be made between self-esteem and cell phone usage, for sure. It seems many of my students are looking to their phones to fill gaps in their lives. To get attention they don’t seem to be getting elsewhere.
Maybe if they get enough likes or views or win enough games of whatever they’re playing thesw days, they won’t feel so empty inside. The kids who don’t seem as attahced to their phones are the one whose parents came to Open House or answer my emails, etc.
I’m not saying we should blame parenting either. Just sharing some observations I have made in my classroom.
I think as someone growing up in the generation where social media has been around since childhood, we never recognized a level of selfishness or narcissism attached until social media reached the point that it’s at now with filters and dollars galore attached to the platforms. I remember being asked by my parents as a young teen if I felt narcissistic taking so many photos of myself for apps like Snapchat and being so confused, because it wasn’t about how I looked it was just another means of communication with people I cared about. A way to see their face when we talked rather than simply texting. I may be an outlier - and I definitely have decreased social media use the older I’ve gotten because of how toxic it truly can be - but I don’t think social media started due to selfishness. It was born out of a need for connection. But as young people have lived their lives through these platforms, learning how to make face to face connection has become a lost art. We’re now faced with a world that expects to make our friends, find our role models, and discover love through a screen, and for those of us unwilling to rely on these platforms to do so, the world feels quite difficult and lonely to navigate.
Leaves the question of how to do you navigate a world away from your phone when everyone else is still plugged into it? Haven’t figured that one out yet.
This was so on the mark…. It is the same in so many choices in our life. We are the governors of our own lives ….. as parents we too are the mentors of our small children…. Our choices have to be …… made with love, intelligence, dignity, respect and simply put…..common sense….
Honestly, I don’t even need to add anything because I deeply relate to and agree with this entire thing. You are so spot on.
If we must pick one then my pick is social media is the byproduct of human beings becoming more and more selfish. I will narrow down my defense to focus on the idea of going viral. The real moments humans are experiencing is being hijacked by social media to get things to go viral. The external gratification of strangers is like a drug for the brain, and when it is positive that is phenomenal, but when it is negative that is disastrous. I think it all boils down to intent, what actions do you engage in when you are using social media? Do you want to lift people up instead of tear them down? If we can be tolerant of one another, patient, and kind when interacting on social media then I see it being able to do great things: be the voice for minority groups, help the poor, fundraise for the sick, heal the earth, and inspire. There's been so many times I've opened up the blue bird app and been scrolling for 10 seconds only to be bombarded with negativity. It takes self awareness to recognize the environment you put yourself in and strength to close the app out and move onto something else. It's not good for one's soul, brain, and heart to be surrounded by that much negativity. I always think that if everyone could spend the time they are fighting, arguing, and being mean toward others in a positive way then the world would be a better place.
I would like sociologists to study the following two things long-term: how the use of social media changes with age, and gender differences in the amount and type of selfies and other “narcissistic“ posts. I hear that the US is thinking about banning Tik Tok. I don’t personally have this app. If you ban one, another will emerge. Social media is here to stay. I don’t think that this is the solution. I do think that parents need to be mindful of the age at which they give their children devices and phones and data plans. And while their children are young enough to do so, they need to monitor how much time they are spending on these devices and what they are doing / viewing. Once they are teenagers, it’s hard to control; all you can do is try to make them think more critically about what they are viewing / posting and about how much time they are spending doing so.
This hits hard. As an educator, I was just talking about this yesterday. I told someone I feel like 85% of the discipline issues we have stems from social media. Tyler, you hit it on the head when you said..it’s because we are selfish. And we are!
If I’m being honest I have a hard time even being “bored”. Being in silence. When my house is asleep and I’m folding clothes..I’m still listening to a podcast. When I make dinner. I find some type of noise to keep me occupied.
I am so grateful social media was not prevalent when I was a child! (I’m 37) Thanks for sharing!
It's interesting because my coworkers and I have been having a conversation around social media and how it's changed so much. How it's all about influencing your to buy something or feel a certain way... We've been talking about doing a cleanse together and just the idea of it sounds so hard for us because it's become such a daily part of our lives. But I'm hoping we can pull through and do it and see what comes of it.
One Republic’s song Sunshine is a great song that relates to this topic nicely.
I have to believe that since the invention of the Mirror we have been interested in our appearance and how others see us. It’s part of human nature. Social media has intensified this, yes. However, it’s just another tool.
Selfishness is not a bad thing. We all see the world through our eyes and our experiences are unique even we we share an experience with others.
A lot of good things are out there on social media. People doing good things for themselves and others. I use this tool to see those things and don’t spend time with the narcissism.
Great topic, Tyler. ✨❤️✨
Oh man. I could talk about this for days. Such a good topic.
I agree with you that we do not look enough at the human side. I too find myself thinking initially that technology has changed us, and it has -- but we are the ones that allowed that to happen. Once the internet came to be, everyone was off to the races dreaming up everything we could do with it. It has helped us as much as it's hurt us. Alas, here we are. I do miss the early days of social media when everything was simple and just about connecting with your friends and posting goofy photos and status updates. But now that capitalism, politics, religion, etc. have taken over these platforms, it feels overwhelming. I've spent the last several years contemplating social media, trying to pull back and find balance. I realize now that it is no coincidence that my anxiety levels have increased over the years. It's crazy how many of the things I worry about can be traced back to the influence social media has had on me. Even now, friends keep telling me about new apps and new platforms I should join and I keep refusing. I have definitely reached my personal limit on how many platforms I can be part of. It's all too much. I do think that humans have mostly always been the way they are, but it's just more obvious and glaring now that social media puts everything and everyone in front of our faces constantly. We previously had very few outlets for our selfishness and narcissism. It was a lot harder to start a riot or a movement or spread fake news and misinformation. Now it is so easy. Anyone can have influence anywhere, which is equally inspiring and absolutely terrifying. I want to believe we can use these outlets for good, but where there is the potential for good there will always be bad things. Like light and dark. I think the way to pull ourselves back is to focus on the things that matter most: real life, real human interactions, time with the people we love, going to real places and having tangible experiences. Being present in the now is crucial for minimizing the desire to be glued to our devices. I find that when I'm truly present, I don't even desire to get on social media. I'm completely engaged with people, an experience, a place, etc. I am also less anxious overall. It's hard to convince people on a massive scale to pull back from media that is designed to keep us addicted. It is a drug that so many people are high on and don't even have the awareness to realize they are addicted. But there's always hope I suppose. We can at least affect the people closest to us, and maybe it can spread slowly outward from there. I will always teeter between loving and hating social media, but I think balance and awareness is the key. Like anything in life, we have a choice.
It still shocks me to see a couple at dinner, both on their phones, no communication between them. My daughter suggested that they were texting each other (?!) It's a mindblower. I took a photo years ago, similar in theme to yours, Tyler, taken on Kaanapali Beach at sunset while whales jumped and surfers surfed, fascinated me. There were probably 20 tourists standing within a 30 foot area of each other pointed cameras in all directions..... I think we are all intrigued by taking a look at ourselves, and some become addicted with this technology. I'm of the generation pre-cell phone and pre personal computers. I'm still not comfortable with this constant bombardment of information, and definitely make a point of shutting it down.
It does bring some hope to society in the connections made. I am going to see this glass half full.
Just look at US!