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To Live is To Exist

Life has open pathways and endless oceans, but somehow we choose to make our own path. One of the most questioned parts of our existence is what we’re put here on Earth for. It’s a terrifying thought knowing our lives are finite. It’s the question that keeps me up at night when sleep is rare and the thoughts are neverending.

As many of my friends would argue, live life as it comes. Live in the moment as some would say. While common to hear, it provides little comfort and no answers. Right or wrong, it’s a lack luster response to the problem of knowing we all will eventually leave this land and be nothing more than memories to those who have yet to succumb to the eternal slumber.

One of my co-workers is approaching retirement and I’ve asked him something along these lines. Purpose when there seemingly isn’t one. A destination when so many wander aimlessly. By his account, he’s suprised he’s where he is today. A family man, with a wife and children to his name. He has owned multiple homes and properties in his life time — often remiscing of the past and times long gone.

I find the elderly remarkable. Their wisdom is far and many. Their words distinct and concise. Through out all of human history, people have come to make a name for themselves — not like the fame or notoriety our current generation of social media celebrities so eager seek. It’s not what I want or feel anyone before the age of 30 should seek. I consider it the greatest distraction society faces — one sided affection when no one at the other end of the glowing screen could care or help you when it matters.

My thoughts on the current state of society has remained the same. We all too often distract ourselves with content high in shallowness and of little value. Meaningless interactions with others who are nothing more than images projecting themselves to occupy our short attention span.

In a world so addicted to obsurd, what time we have here is lost to distractions. The solution is simple — stop. Look at the person in front of you. Acknowledge their presence and fully interact one-on-one. Since when was the digital and non-physical so important to ignore the people around you? Families do it with their children eating at restaurants. Lovers to each other on a night out. We as people exist to foster relationships through words, actions, and contact. How we’ve come to shield ourselves from normal human behavior is a sign of of the greatest ill we have towards society. Love to love, be loved and hope there’s another waiting for you.

Later world.

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Social Media Blackout

Social media is all bullshit. If you think what you see is representative of real life, you’re sadly mistaken. No one posts the mundane or down right depressing on their feed — and why would they? Every post and picture is curated to show the very best of you — a greatest hits of sorts. I find that too much of it will send you spiraling down into depression. It’s a trap and you’re the unwilling participant.

Call me crazy, but no ones life is perfect. Not the celebrities you idolize or the friend who travels to another country every week. They show what they only what you to believe. It’s all bullshit. Loss, grief, and sadness has no place online. Naturally, we gravitate toward the exciting, new, and adventurous. Anything less wouldn’t be worthy of a like, thumbs up, or heart icon.

Later world. It’s time I have it all a rest. To everyone I care about, I’m alive — I just need a break into the real reality — however mundane.

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To Unfriend and Unfollow

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When you’re younger, you generally want to be be “friends” with everyone and with as many people as possible. You’ll add anyone on social media — friends and acquaintances alike. Bonds are usually very weak and you normally wouldn’t meet up with most of them — let alone wave to them in public. It’s a weird dynamic. To follow what they’re doing online, but never actually see them in person.

My friends list in the 12 years I’ve been on Facebook has varied wildly. At one point, I had over one thousand of my not so closest friends all linked up and followed. It was all for the soul purpose of not missing out on anything such as trips to the club, parties, ragers, kickbacks, etc. It worked well for that purpose, but if I’ll be honest and blunt, I couldn’t care less about everyone on there. It hit me one day. These people don’t care about me and I don’t care about them. Why am so preoccupied with what they’re doing? How weird. Even more troubling, you tend to feel just as lonely regardless of how many people you befriended or followed.

I feel it’s a false sense of popularity in some regards. Who cares how many friends and followers I have online. Real world is much more important. Having that one friend come to your rescue when you have a flat one the freeway at 12 in the morning beats out a thousand faces in the feed.

Later world.

 

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Digital Dusting

We’re all increasing living in a digital world forever connected to the past. I find social media to be the biggest offenders to society. There’s a growing body of research to tie narcissism and lower feelings of life satisfaction the longer you use it, but that’s a discussion for another day. My pet peeve is how it reminds you of people you’re no longer with. I call it the ex that some how lingers — a ghost if you will.

Normally, with any relationship separation, both parties do their due diligence to a scrub the Internet of their once fabled time together. Call it the digital equivalent of tearing up old pictures and letters that remind you of her. We all do it to some extent. However, this isn’t usually the case.

Everything that’s tagged cannot be untagged. I question the motives behind this, but by design, social media is meant to remind you of the past — not all of which is something you want to remember. My pet peeve is this very day several years ago. My ex and I took pics together and although I have repeatedly clicked the option to delete or untag myself, it remains. Every fucking single year.

Facebook is like that friend you somewhat trust and has a tendency to stir up past conflict on a whim. By all accounts, my ex hates me with a passion — still. I’m amazed time hasn’t tempered her hostility, but some level of contempt remains no matter the length of time. All I want is to remove myself from the past. It’s all digital dust to me.

Later world.

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Disconnecting

I find the concept of social media overwhelming. As if I’m suppose to go on it everyday to see what people are doing. People whom I’m not all too concerned about or have given much a thought throughout the week. I think at my absolute peak, my Facebook had about one thousand of my not so closest friends on there. It worked well though. You need to be connected with everyone you meet where ever if you’re looking to party and get drunk every weekend — Friday included. For a while, it worked great for this purpose, however scandalous it may seem.

Now that the party life has long since passed, social media feels more like a nuisance than a means of keeping in touch. I find myself too distracted by all the bullshit friends share on there. It’s a wasteland of memes, graphic videos, and misinformation. It comes naturally. People gravitate towards information that support their own beliefs — rarely looking at ones that oppose it. It’s an echo chamber for everyone’s notions. I’m hard pressed to find anything useful on there just casually browsing. I’ve went as far as to unlike everything to clear the clutter. Fun fact, I was one of the first few thousand users on Instagram when it first launched prior to being acquired on Facebook. Its wide use to photograph everyones food was a more recent phenomenon in its history. Last I checked, I had only friends with a wide assortment of food blogs followed. Shit I’m genuinely interested in. Of course, anything my friends share gets shown on my feed, but it’s worlds better. It’s all ads if you take a deeper look.

In my time studying psychology, I did a number of reports on the effects of social media. Two in community college and one while at UCSB. More or less, my suspicions about its utility were confirmed through research I compiled. It does more harm than good, makes you less satisfied with life and weakens interpersonal relationships. It’s the new breeding ground for the socially inept generation who post for likes, hearts, and comments. It’s the feedback loop at work. It’s feeding into everyones fears of missing out while making your mind addicted to small hits of dopamine through likes and comments. Somehow, complex face-to-face communication has taken a backseat to more primitive texted-based communication. Replace hugs with heart emojis and facial cues with a smiley. It’s the not the same and never will be. When I browse, scroll, or flip through the feed, I take everything I see or read with a grain of salt.

It’s all bullshit.

I deactivated Facebook and Instagram a few days ago, and you know what? Seems like I didn’t need it. I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything from anyone I actually care about. Less ads, less memes and less of a burden on my mental health. Later world.

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Facebook: The False Narrative

We live in a hyper-connected world where social media has dominated our lives. It’s a new phenomenon and we are the guinea pigs. Not since the telephone has the social fabric of society been reworked and so drastically altered. Although Facebook’s motto is to connect people around the world, I’ll offer a different take on the platform’s true intentions — one motivated by capitalism.

I’ve been on Facebook since 2007 towards the end of the Myspace era. That’s 11 years of data collection, photos liked, comments, and GPS coordinates from check-ins. It’s every advertiser’s dream to have access to such data about the population and reliable data that was willingly shared to the network. Any company who pays a fee can use this data in the form of an app to gather as much intel on someone to use as they wish — it’s Facebook’s best kept secret. When news broke of Cambridge Analytica’s use of private Facebook data in the 2016 election was revealed, was anyone really all that surprised they knowingly engage in such business? Their stock price has had year-to-year exponential growth since going public. This isn’t just merely from growing the user base as some would lead you to believe. It’s all business. Data collection and selling of said intel. Brands love Facebook and with their highly sophisticated targeted ad system, makes it a lucrative business to have as much of the population on there as possible.

What would one make of their motto: to connect people? Bullshit. Do you really think saying happy birthday on someone’s wall has the same impact as face-to-face? Of course not. Do you really think people care where you eat, check-in to, or go clubbing at? Fuck no. How many times have you walked by that one “friend” on your Facebook in Isla Vista, but did not wave hello? We all are part of a social experiment. Likes, thumbs ups, and hearts give us a small shot of dopamine. We share and engage on Facebook to get our fix. Most are unaware of this phenomenon. We do it subconsciously because we crave and desire validation. We want to know we are liked. It’s addictive. The feedback loop engulfs us as our biological reward system is exploited to consume as much of our time and consciousness as possible.

My Facebook usage peaked in 2014-2015. Senior year in college will do that. How else can you tell everyone about your massive end of the year rager on Sabado? Facebook. Just a few clicks of the mouse and 1000 of my friends were notified of the party. Of course I didn’t know everyone on there that well, but that’s kind of the point when you’re trying to have a good time in college. You add everyone to see where they are and what they’re up to. You drastically increase your social life and before you know it, you’re the most popular guy around. It’s easy. The fear of missing out is strong. Whether you want to admit it or not. Do you remember everyone’s name when you see them? No. How about that girl you’ve just added and been flirting with all night? Good luck with that. Not a chance, baby.

Real world or post college life leads to massive drop in engagement on Facebook. Your one party friend isn’t posting about EOS or clubbing anymore every weekend. Time to get your shit together and get a job. Real world motherfuckers. It’s jarring. A large percentage of post college grads do experience depression following college. Whether you can attribute this to losing the high life or the lack of engagement on social media is not yet clear.

No one goes on Facebook to tell everyone how miserable they are. Every post is generally added with the intent of garnering likes and validation. Sure — some people are on Facebook do tell everyone how much of a Debbie-downer they really are, but this is rare. The absolute exception. Think of your friend’s profiles as their greatest hits album. One that is carefully crafted and curated to be the most desirable aspects of yourself and viewed the most favorably. Maybe it’s pics of a fancy restaurant you’ve been eating at, that new watch you just gotten, or the high paying job others been dreaming of. We naturally share what we want others to like about ourselves.

Tread with caution. Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat are fun. But take what you see on there with a grain of salt. That friend with over 1000 friends is likely no happier than the next guy down the list. There’s evidence to correlate high friend counts with lower life satisfaction. Do not get caught up on the false narrative and lose your happiness. Your mental health will suffer. Be thankful of the life you have.

Later world.