A friend of mine once described the feeling of getting distracted by your social media feed like walking into a room and forgetting why you did so in the first place.
How many of us have come to our senses, suddenly realising we’re watching a video of an elephant playing with a cat, yet not having a clue how we got there or how long we have been there?
Whatever reason brought us to check social media in the first place has been long forgotten and our minds have become thoroughly distracted from whatever task we were trying to carry out. Another few minutes of our precious attention wasted.
It’s no accident. Facebook and other social media companies deliberately try to make their services addictive, utilising techniques employed in the casinos of Las Vegas to lure us into spending more and more time on their apps. And yet just like the slot-machine addict, none of us actually feel better after we have looked at social media, we just do it to satisfy a craving. So why do we do it??
Many of us tell ourselves that we need to be on social media for business reasons, to stay in touch with our friends, to know what is going on. And there is possibly some validity in these arguments, but is being on social media always the best way to achieve these goals?
Personally, I love the idea of people using social media to share creative work with others. A nice photo, a clever limerick, a thought-out message, or some new lyrics maybe.
How is the song you write going to have the opportunity to connect with listeners if you don’t share it online? Especially now.
How is the conversation you had with an expert in your field going to be heard by other interested parties unless you broadcast it for them to hear?
So there are advantages to it. And I’m not writing this blog to recommend that readers delete all social media accounts from their phones. But it might be no harm to step back for a day or two in order to evaluate our relationship with these hugely profitable companies. Are we using them, or are they using us?
For anyone interested in a younger person’s opinion on this topic, this essay was written by Fraser Gaine – who many of you will know as a member of our horn section in the theme nights. His talents go beyond music however – as will be evident from this 2019 essay on the dangers of social media for people of his age.
Finally, as many of you know, I write a (mostly) daily blog, and it is advertised every day on Facebook and sometimes on other social media sites. I do this because it’s important to me that others get the opportunity to read it. I use an extension called a news feed eradicator when I log in. This allows me to post on Facebook without seeing the feed of other people’s posts and reduces the risk of distraction. I share this in case it may be useful to any of you.
However you can read the blog without being on social media at all. Go to kieranquinn.blog and subscribe and you can have it emailed directly to your inbox.