Under Microscope

It's another world under the microscope.

The Insatiable Need to Share

With the advent of social media, we have discovered a new possibility. The possibility to share the story of our lives with everyone we know and sometimes even people we do not know. I am certain this is not a new urge. People liked sharing their lives with others long before the invention of modern social media. They created photograph albums and showed them to their visitors. For many years, they dreamed of being famous because in the past the public only knew the lives of famous people. Frankly, most of us like to be the center of attention. Some people like it more than others and rarely do people hate to be known for something positive. In social media, we believe we get to choose what we are known for, and we can always paint a positive image around ourselves for our audience. We get to choose what the “news article” says about us. Initially, this seems to be a big advantage. Since being famous or well-known is a natural desire, an easy way of satisfying it must be good for us, right?
In reality, social media is terrible for us. Not because we can share our lives, or get positive feedback from loved ones, but because our lives do not remain unchanged in the presence of social media. We do not only share our lives, but we also live our lives in order to share. Similar to an actor who works day and night without a break, we act out our lives for the next social media post. In most cases, we do not do whatever we want to do. Instead, we do what we believe would get the most positive reaction from the crowd of online strangers that might potentially give a few seconds of their attention to our social media posts. While our lives are everything we have, a few seconds of attention by strangers should have no practical value for most of us.
Many people falsely believe that they can use social media responsibly. They believe they can limit their usage to reasonable durations and use it for constructive practices. Responsible social media usage is an absurd concept such as responsible drinking or responsible gambling. The fundamental forces behind the human psyche that make drinking or gambling attractive are the root of the problem. The action itself is only a symptom. Therefore, the intensity of the action should not be the primary focus.
The fundamental problem behind gambling is greed. Gambling is only a consequence of greed that emerges when the individual is lacking basic mathematical training. Mathematical training or educating individuals about the catastrophic consequences of gambling is one way of tackling this problem. However, it will never truly solve the issue unless the individual no longer desires more material wealth to be happy. A stockbroker is not considered a gambling addict because they have figured out how to handle their risks or push the risks to other individuals, most brokers anyway. Nevertheless, as long as they are greedy, they can never be happy. As an inevitable consequence of their greed, they will find other ways to create stress around their lives.
Similarly, the fundamental problem behind social media is loneliness. We are social animals, and we crave the companionship of other humans. This is an essential and healthy need. However, social media is not a way of satisfying this need. It is a platform where this need is exploited for material gain by greedy people. Social media platforms deliberately avoid satisfying the need for social connection, because then, they would make themselves obsolete.
Social media must be abandoned for casual, professional, fraternal, familial, ultimately real human connections. When those human connections establish their roots, it will become clear that social media is not a need but just another addiction open for exploitation.