Samurai & Social Media: Living A Good Life
It’s been almost three years since I deleted my social media accounts. Over these last few years my quality of life has improved substantially. I firmly believe that had I chosen to stay on social media I would be unhappier and an overall worse person.
During my freshman year of college I began meditating and I got really into it. I started practicing mindfulness regularly in small sessions at first. By my senior year I was practicing for an hour of meditation every day. Ultimately mindfulness meditation dramatically helped me increase my attention, awareness and focus. I can’t recommend it enough.
When I began to actually pay attention to what using social media feels like I realized that it wasn’t fun. It was making me an anxious and insecure person. Every time I picked up my phone and went on social media it felt like my brain was getting fried, I couldn’t concentrate and I felt a compulsion to distract myself with something.
Then one day I was hung over and realized that I was sick of wasting my life mindlessly scrolling through a soup of irrelevant information. In one swoop I deleted all of my accounts and luckily never looked back.
Unfortunately we don’t really think about the type life we want to live. A lot of us don’t even realize that we have a choice in choosing a lifestyle. Most people passively default to the patterns and lifestyles that everyone else follows. Conformity may be the humanities biggest tragedy. It takes courage to live differently, but that is why going against the grain and choosing your own path is more intrinsically rewarding.
After reading Digital Minimalism and Deep Work by Cal Newport I began to seriously contemplate not only how I use social media and the internet. Like many others I used to think that social media was a tool to help me engage with my friends. But in reality social media actually lessens the quality of my relationships because every moment I spent online was a moment where I wasn’t actually engaging with other people. Am I really friends with someone if I can’t engage in a full conversation without checking my phone?
I was just using social media to engage in mindless procrastinate, avoid boredom by seeking novelty and dodge awkward social interactions by looking down at my screen. If I was really using social media to keep up with my friends than why didn’t I have real life interactions with 99% of the people I was following/followed by. Most of the people on social media and most of the information on my account feeds were irrelevant to my life, if they dropped off the face of the earth I wouldn’t have even notice.
I also realized that I didn’t like social media because it reduced socializing to a zero sum status game. I’m not a communist, hierarchies and inequality are inherent in all human affairs including social status. But, I believe that social media companies quantify likes and followers to keep users insecure which keeps users craving for more attention which ultimately makes them addicted.
I didn’t even know most of the people on social media but I still was unconsciously measuring myself by their standards. Even though its completely normal to feel this way I am embarrassed to admit that I felt pain when I didn’t get enough likes or wasn’t followed back. Social media intrinsically prevents you from forming your own values and choosing your own path in life because it is a social game designed on winning the approval and attention of other people. Constantly looking to get more likes and follows is digital simping.
If history has shown anything it is the people who aren’t accepted and even vilified by their peers who push humanity forward. Names like Gallieleo, Einstein, Shulgin, Nietchze, Jesus and Socrates come to mind.
What even is a like? In so-called real life we don’t exclaim “like !” every time we see something amusing. We are complex social animals, we’ve all got a lot to say. Our emotions, feelings and relationships exist in a rich spectrum. As Cal Newport has pointed out Social media is an insult to our intelligence, it creates a simplified and dumbed down version of social interaction.
It might seem like you’re just talking to a girl in a bar but deep down in her brain her evolutionary wiring is taking measurements and sizing you up. Everything from your posture and tonality to the way you make eye contact are giving the girl of your dreams a reading of your biochemistry. You can’t convey your testosterone levels nor can you actually get to know someone though Instagram or Tinder.
Social media is free, except its not. As my mom says nothing in life is free, don’t tell that to socialist. If nothing is free than what is the real price you pay for social media? Aside from the time and ability to think for yourself social media is also costing you your attention which coincidentally is costing you money.
The people who get paid the most are those who can quickly solve complex problems. In order to solve complex problems one needs to focus for long periods of time, this is a skill which can be developed. The skill of achieving long periods of singular concentration is known as Deep Work.
Cal Newport explains social media is a circus of constant task switching and attention swapping. You hop from one post to the next, from one app to the next. This all happens in a short period of time and your brain never really processes the information.
Over time this rewires our brains to be constantly seeking new information. Gradually we lose the ability to process information, our brains default mode becomes a search for novelty. If our brains become wired for distraction, task switching and novelty seeking it is impossible to cultivate our attention to a singular point. Thus Deep Work and all of its benefits remain out of reach for social media addicts.
Never before in the evolutionary history of humanity have our brains been given access to so much novelty. We’re overdosing on information. Social media fries your brain and makes it impossible to concentrate.
This is pretty scary considering that a whole generation of kids who are growing up using this dangerous technology. They won’t be able to do anything useful if their brains become permanently wired for distraction. There won’t be a next generation of scientist or entrepreneurs if our species can’t concentrate. Does social media have the potential to drive our species to extinction?
Ancient wisdom is the best wisdom. The Roman Stoics constantly reflected on death in order to live the best life. The Japanese Samurai lived by a Buddhist code known as Bushido where they would conduct their lives as if they were already dead.
Ultimately we’re all going to die ugly, slow, lonely and painful deaths. If we’re lucky enough to be cognizant in our last moments and given the ability to reflect on the meaning in our lives, reminisce on good times or mull over our regrets we aren’t going to care about how many followers we had and we certainly aren’t going to want to watch one more cat video.
if we aren’t going to care about that stuff at the end of our lives then why are we doing it at all? Thanks for reading.
Corey’s Corner -> https://anchor.fm/coreys-corner
Learn To Code -> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUh96VCtZQ8