Saturday, February 1, 2020

Why I keep leaving social media

For me, social media started somewhere around LiveJournal. This was basically a rudimentary version of Facebook, wherein users posted blogs about their life with the ability to tag their mood. For example, Mood: ecstatic 😃. At the time, my 2003 life consisted of going to the mall to buy GameCube or PS2 games and hanging out in parking lots, or at the movie theatre because I only had a learner's permit and couldn't really drive myself anywhere. More on this past-life later...

A Nintendo GameCube console.

Beyond LiveJournal (or LJ, as those in-the-know referred to it) we had MySpace, which was actually pretty cool. At a time, MySpace was the best place to put your high school emo band's music up. If you had the right songs, and the right images, you could even fool people into believing you were major-label ready. But this post isn't about Panic! At The Disco. It's about social media.

Members of Panic! at the Disco and Fall Out Boy
After MySpace fizzled I was on the inaugural version of Facebook's high school program. This was the short time period when Facebook extended usage to both college and high school students. At this point I was connected online with everyone within my high school social circle-- people I met up with at house parties or knew from the hallways or cafeteria. We'd go out drinking and the next week I'd see photo albums (a sort of documentation, almost always posted by women) from the weekend. My friend list was probably around 30 or 40 people.

When I entered college in 2006, I used Facebook to try to pick up women. Come to think of it, If there were only dudes on Facebook, and instead it was called, "DudeBook" I probably wouldn't even have had an account.

To go on a tangent, the only way this "DudeBook" concept would work is if it allowed sharing of stock market tips. Men dressed in suits talking about the latest Dow Jones news and the ability to track each other's investment prowess on a simulated Equities interface. Maybe I'd sign up for that, but still somewhat doubtful.

Ben Stein's DudeBook page would be in my "Top 5"

Back to the point. With women on Facebook, I could try out my "game" out by meeting age-appropriate women in real life, and then following up online where I'd be able to say whatever I wanted with almost no consequences. Add in alcohol for most of these interactions and the next-morning embarrassment level ramps up to 100. Thankfully, this was before the invention of smart devices, so for me to drunkenly message someone online, I'd have to go out drinking all night, return home, boot up Windows 2000 Professional, log into my account and send the message. Believe it or not, I used to do this, and many times I would have just run several miles back from the train station to my parents house, while blasted, beforehand.

A pint of pale ale.

I guess the main point of all of this was to talk to women and find my way into some "action." The digital medium was just tangential to an actual in-person interaction. A supplemental approach. It's barbaric to strip all of this down to Freudian theory, where 100% of motivation boils down to desire for sexual exchange. I'd venture to say it's slightly more complex. Why does anyone seek out opposite-sex companionship? I think it's reliant on some level of intangibility. I guess women are annoying most of the time, but the positives are finding the right one can make you look cool?

Stars of the movie based on a book, Twilight.

But back to digital interaction with the opposite sex. Allow me to bestow upon you two tidbits of old school knowledge. The first being, that I was in high school for the dawn of SMS messaging, and prior to the dissolution of T9 in favor of say, a T-Mobile "Sidekick" phone, it was actually unacceptable to text another man. You were seen as "gay" if you texted another guy, just point blank.

The current political-correctness madness that has consumed mainstream media and quarantined many of our inherent rights to sarcasm might cry, "homophobic!" but really... Secondly, I made it a point to ask a girl to senior prom in-person. I felt I would be less of a man, and in fact a total pussy, if I had done this digitally, so I did it in person. I drove to the girl's house where she was having a party, and asked her face-to-face (with my friends watching on, and laughing to themselves mere feet away) in her parent's basement. It was nerve-wracking, but hey, I survived. She. said. yes. But back to exposing the crimes against human interaction that Facebook and other "social media" have perpetuated.

How about social media as a means to improve "Networking?" This is a way for the Facebook marketing team to divert focus away from the fact that Facebook is at it's core, a place for men to pick up women, and women to attach themselves to the status or image of a man. I guess, if the woman herself is already successful as a business entity, she could use social media to promote her business, as a way to potentially increase earning power. At this point she wouldn't even need to attach herself to a man's status, unless it was from a fame (or even more shallow, aesthetic) standpoint. That girl that doesn't message you back is for damn sure hitting "REPLY" on the David Beckham message in her inbox.

David Beckham reading his flooded MySpace page inbox.

Once Facebook opened up its doors for everyone, the paradigm shifted. The plausibility of someone's family vacation photos being on there entered the picture. The other major difference had to do with the ability to post more text. What were static pages, turned into an endless "feed" of status updates. No thanks. As far as I'm concerned, using Facebook as a way to "take a stance" on some political ideology is a laughable and sadly, generic way for some guy to appeal to the opposite sex by way of a digital post. But hey, whatever works. If blasting an, "I love Hillary Clinton!" status update ultimately gets you some action, or helps you posture yourself into some sort of political expertise... isn't that what Facebook was made for?

Why does this feel so right?

To reach somewhat of a conclusion: social media is almost entirely about status. Men don't think this way, but women do. Women love to attach themselves to a man's status. You see it all the time. It would be misogynistic if it weren't so damn true. For instance, consider Michael Kay. He has a giant head, a brutish approach to vocalization and loves the dorky statistics and history of baseball. What are the odds, if, instead of being the announcer for the New York Yankees, he was a janitor at a road-side McDonalds in Tuscaloosa? Would any woman besides an overweight hooker take any interest in him? Better yet, what if he didn't even have a Facebook page? It's all about status.

Michael Kay, announcer for the Yankees.

On the flip side, the male perspective looks like this. I'll just remind everyone of the "Message Me" button that is present on every platform. Pictures like this come to mind, for me at least.

Hayley Williams, from the band Paramore.

Like any guy, I see this, and the "Message Me" button and my mind immediately goes into a full-blown mode of...

A meme based off the movie, "Dumb and Dumber."

But, there pretty much isn't. And that's another reason why I keep leaving social media. It creates a false reality. You trick yourself into thinking that an opposite-sex celebrity, or someone from your distant or even short-term past really is in the room there with you, meanwhile, they could give less of a f*ck. Add in Las Vegas-esque dopamine incentives for you to continually engage, and after a while it takes some strength to rip away the fingernails social media has sunk into you.

When you consider some of the realities of what Facebook (and Instagram) really are up to, it's a no-brainer to get the hell off it it. They're trying to manipulate your thoughts, and slowly but surely stripping you of the ability to fully express yourself. Most people are way too casual about granting permission to these social network behemoths to manipulate their inner-dialogue by means of exploiting their innate need for social acceptance.

But what are you willing to give up in order to be accepted by others? What started as a dating website has now transformed into something that wants control over your thoughts. In other words, it's a f*cking disaster, no matter how aloof you want to be about it, or how uninformed you are towards it or how little you pretend to care. You're just fooling yourself.

The last social media site I was active on was Instagram. Once Facebook bought it out, I knew it was just a matter of time until it was stained with a vicious algorithmic dye. Mark Zuckerberg's insatiable thirst for money and power is finding it's way into your manipulating your emotions for increased corporate revenue. Money you'll never see. And to think it all started with some pictures from a night out  at the local bar. Me? I'm done with social media. But hey, YouTube's still cool. Everything else? No thanks. - Mike

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