Freedom From Social Prison

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Walk around the mall, walk into a coffee shop. Watch people sitting on park benches, sitting in their cars at a red light. Everyone has their phone in their hand. Even as I write this my phone is nearby and I have at least two tabs open on my browser monitoring social media. We have become a society so focused on living our life online for others to see. We go to dinner and as soon as the food arrives we have to get the perfect Instagram photo. We no longer send out invitations through the mail, we great Facebook Events. We have to comment, Like and share everything and anything. We are more obsessed with our stories then we are with our lives.

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From the kid on their iPod to the millennial in the coffee shop to the business CEO in their office all the way up to the President of the United States, we are addicted to tweets, statuses, snaps, stories, pins etc. We overshare, we live our life for the approval of others. Social Media has become a main source of news, with that comes the viral spread of stories whether they are real or fake, does not matter. Our obsessions turn us against one another in comment sections. New media has raged war with Mainstream Media each accusing the other of being “Fake News”. Comment sections have degraded from constructive conversation to vile cesspools of the worst of humanity. If someone doesn’t share someone else’s opinion, we no longer discuss it like civilized individuals, we resort to insults and hate speech.

Now, it is not all bad. I have made connections with people I never would have otherwise because of social media. Discovered so many new things, new ideas, no products etc. However, it has become all consuming and the biggest issue for me is Facebook. Action is needed. Action was taken.

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I hit the logout button. I took Facebook off my phone and other portable devices. It has been liberating. There have been many stories about Facebook and other Social Media sites cause stress and anxiety for people. Oh, how true this is. I had become obsessed, addicted. Constantly checking, sharing, posting etc. I was trying to live my life so it looked good on my profile, in my friends feed. Do things that would impress other people, people who I have no interaction with offline. This is not meant to be a “Poor Ben” post but I have very few, if any, friends so I turned to things like Social Media for that interpersonal relationships. The truth is, the people on the internet are not more my friend than the guy at the Dunkin’ Donuts I get my morning coffee from. Sure, I see him every day, we talk sports, current events, weather etc. He is not inviting me over to watch the game. I am not inviting him to my eventual housewarming gathering. Same goes for the vast majority of the people on my “friends” list. Yet, we live our lives for their approval. We cannot wait to share our experiences with people we may have never actually met in real life. I focus on Facebook because it is the biggest source of Social Media stress for most anyone.

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If you are reading this and saying to yourself “he is nuts, he just needs to lighten up, live his life and stop caring” ask yourself how many times a day do you check your phone for notifications. Ask yourself what app are you using the most. You’re taking a picture to capture a moment, what is your first action? If it is to post it online, hate to break it to you but you are addicted as well. However, this is not a bad thing, as long as you are able to find that balance. For me, I could not find that balance. I still find myself checking my phone for that “f” logo with the notification flag. But it is becoming less and less every day. I will never go as far as deactivating my account because I use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram for more than just social interaction. For example, Facebook is a useful community calendar. Twitter allows me to keep up on in depth hockey news. Instagram is just there, a way to share something funny.

It has been 72 hours, I have no been perfect. There have been a number of occasions where I have reinstalled Facebook onto my phone out of boredom and needed to know what is going on. I have logged on from work for the same reason. But it is becoming less and less. I am slowly freeing myself from this addiction, this constant need to know what is going on everywhere with everything. I envy those who can balance it. I look forward to the day where Facebook is just another app on my phone, but for now, I have logged out.

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