After watching The Social Dilemma on Netflix, I was one of the people that ended up deleting Facebook. (I deleted the app from my phone instead of my whole account because I have too many pictures on FB). Originially, when I got Facebook, it was sort of just to see what the hype was about. It definitely had a lot of positives and as stated in the movie, no one ever intended these grave consequences that came with it. It was created with good intentions. For me, I enjoyed getting to catch up with old friends from high school and university. It was a way to catch a glimpse into their lives, to watch their kids and families grow, to see how their holidays were spent, to see where they went on vacations, etc. Lots of my friends on facebook I still have not seen since high school but we connected and caught glimpses of eachother on this platform. This was something that was never possible before, and to me, I quite enjoyed and appreciated it. It was a small way of celebrating their successes, or heartbreaks such as learning about a few friends’ passing or their parents’ passing. It was a way to connect that was never possible before. There were many positives- an easy way to organize high school reunions, free way to talk to someone around the world, a way to find lost loved ones and a way to celebrate those we lost. Every year on the death of my brother, it is enlightening for me to still see his friends light up his memory with a cheers in his honour, reminiscing of good times gone past. Today is the anniversary of his death. It was 19 years ago and I know that a few of his best friends will be raising a glass celebrating him. This is just some of the good it created. For others, they may have found organ donors, raised money for a worthy cause much easier, found a birth parent etc.
Other positives that came about were being able to shop for anything from anywhere in the world via your phone, search for anything your heart may desire, find information through Google for anything you could think of. A person literally would not have to leave their home.
But… as stated above, “Nothing vast enters the life of mortals without a curse.”
As Sir Isaac Newton’s Third Law of Motion states, “With every action there is an equal and opposite reaction” so it was with the world of Social Media. With everything good that came from Social Media, there were also just as many bad. None that were truly intentional, but never the less they now exist and we are dealing with them. People being addicted to their phones like never before, increased mental health problems, fake news which manipulates narratives, cyber bullying, a staggering increase in death rates, suicide rates and hospitalization rates, especially in pre-teen girls. The information age has essentially become the disinformation age and has eroded the fabric of our society. “Humans have become the product. It essentially is the marketplace that trades in human futures.”
I will explain two personal reasons why I had to delete Facebook from my phone.
I always knew the algorithms existed but really paid no attention to them. This summer, though, I had something that really bothered me that I couldn’t shake. I did know that everything I ever discussed would end up popping up on my feed but I sort of just shook it off until an incident that happened this summer. My son and daughter were visiting at my home. They happened to be discussing that my son needed a bed. He had been shopping around. My daughter once mentioned a store that I had never heard of. I wasn’t even in on the conversation. I was just present during the conversation. But it seemed every time I was on Facebook after that that one particular store had an advertisement pop up. This to me felt creepy. I was NOT a part of the conversation nor had been searching for beds on my phone. This time, I was only privy to the conversation. I merely was listening to my son and daughter outside having their own conversation and directly after that, this ad continually popped up. To me, that seemed like it was a huge invasion of privacy. It seemed to go beyond my phone. Almost like it was real and reaching out into my living room. Like a real life horror show (maybe that’s the Halloween theme right now). Anyways, it made me a very uneasy and I never let go of that feeling, so when this show came out that eery feeling came back and triggered me to respond back in the only way I could- delete the source.
As well, this summer I was fortunate enough to take a Teacher Activism class which opened my eyes to so many things. Although all of the classes were profound in content, there was one that dealed with sexism that resonated greatly with me. In class we watched The Codes of Gender which was astounding. It explained how society creates and maintains the 2 sex 2 gender categories of male and female. Females are portrayed as weak, delicate, breathless, vulnerable and passive, while men are portrayed as strong, in control of their environment, utilitarion. This is all done with images. Women are often shown touching themselves, anywhere, especially on the neck which demonstrates vulnerability and weakness.
They are usually in some awkward position that makes them unbalanced, such as with only one leg holding them up so it looks like they are weak and need someone to hold them up. They are often times, shown looking away from the camera in a dreamy, breathless state which demonstrates fuzziness, or in a dream like state, showing that they need someone to tell them what to do. Men, in contrast are shown standing tall and dominant.
Women’s hands are often used in advertising too. But the hands are shown as only outlining the object or lightly tracing it, which is a sign of weakness.
While in contrast a man’s hand is shown manipulating the object, in control, with great power and strength.
This tactics and signals have always been around, but until lately, there has never been Social Media where teens and pre-teens can spend endless amounts of time scrolling through their feed.
They are seeing these images over and over and over, believing that this is the norm. Then, when watching The Social Dilemma, and learning that the death rates, suicide rate and hospitalizion rates in pre-teen girls are over 150% since Social Media was truly alarming.
Never before in history have we had such easy access to this much information. Now we are seeing some of the effects this is having on society. Huge, profound affects and we need to reign it in NOW.
To further add to amazement, disgust and decision to delete FB was a conversation I had with co-workers at the start of the year. I happened to be explaining the Codes of Gender with colleauges and when I explained how women are portrayed in Social Media with a younger colleague, she informed me that when she was in high school, if they didn’t get 100 likes on an Instagram post, they would take the post down. This floored me and disgusted me. I did not realize these kids let this rule their life. It is like a self-esteem maker or breaker.
To add to this, my niece 13 year old neice was showed me Tik Tok videos and it blew my mind to see the sexuality in the dances these young people are posting and how they are portraying their own bodies because of what they see on Social Media as the norm. No wonder we are living in a world of Snapchat Dysmporphia, where plastic surgeons are getting requests for people to look like they do on their filters. Young people are so impressionable that they believe looking like this is the norm. To me, this is abhorent and ridiculous. I needed to take a stand on it for myself, in my own way by deleting Facebook. Young girls are dealing with so many emotions and stressors as it is, let along to have this giant monster of Social Media rule how they should look.
I did tell my class about somewhat about the Codes of Gender to an extent and had both pose for a typical “female” looking picture. Both boys and girls stood on one leg with the other kicked out and with their hand on their hip in a triangle to demonstrate. They had a big laugh as they did notice then how ridiculous they looked because boys don’t typically stand that way and then they questioned, “why do girls?”
Boys also need to know that they don’t always have to be strong or in control. It is ok to cry, be vulnerable and show your feelings. In fact, it is healthy to do so.
I feel it is time that there is some responsibility or onus put on Social Media platforms and society in general to reverse this cycle so our society as we know it is not in ruins. I know a good start is with Digital Citizenship. But we also need society to back track and take responsibility on some of the negatives this has produced in our society. I am grateful for the Social Dilemma for shedding some light on the subject and making people more aware of the effects of Social Media on our society as a whole.
As an after thought, people have wondered if I miss Facebook, and although at the start I did but I don’t really think about it.
Thanks for reading!