The Problem With Social Media

ยท 805 words ยท 4 minute read

Social Interactions ๐Ÿ”—

Imagine this, you are at a company party and you are hanging out with your project teammates. You don’t know anyone else at this party so you choose to hangout with this group. You know very little about Cricket so you keep quiet when last night’s game is being discussed in this group. Your best choice is to listen to the boring conversations of your teammates who are quite passionate about the game.

Let’s flip the scene. The group starts talking about climate change, sustainable leaving and how circular economy is going to be a game changer. This time not only you know what everyone is talking about but you are an expert so you have a lot to add to conversation. Akshay on other hand is in similar situation as you and chooses to stay quiet on these topics.

In both conversations you and Akshay tolerated your fellow team mates while they discussed about the topics they were passionate about but you knew nothing about. Both you and Akshay are not complete jerks so you listened to others perspectives and ideas even if underlying topics were not interesting. It is also possible that both of you learned something from this experience. Akshay may have realized that he needs to play his part in fixing climate change after seeing how many people are already doing it. You on other hand realize that you need to chill a little, lessen your worries about these issues and learn to have fun every now and then. Both of you learned something from conversations you were not interested in.

Meeting people in person will force us to see other perspectives and ideas. It also helps us in knowing people better. Both Akshay and you realized that both of you have more dimensions. Akshay found out that you are not interested in Cricket but you are very interested in climate change while you realized something similar about Akshay.

The Problem With Social Media ๐Ÿ”—

All real life social interactions like above are impossible to mirror on social media platforms. On social media each personality is reduced to one dimension (decided based on what view this person is holding about the topic being discussed) and this effectively reduces our ability to empathize with this individual. Moreover social media provides us with the ability to find communities that align with our thought process and block communities that are not aligned with our thought process. When I mean block I don’t mean in literal sense. Most people would not block communities they disagree with but then again they are not visiting communities that hold a different point of view which effectively is like blocking these communities.

Why People Do Not Hangout in “Other” Communities? ๐Ÿ”—

It’s hard. It’s hard admitting to ourselves that we could be wrong. It also requires us to admit that others could have valuable input. It requires us to admit that others are just as capable as us to come to their own conclusions and truths. Most of the conversations that happen in online communities like Twitter happen assuming others are not as smart. If we considered that “their” view could be correct it’s like admitting we are not as smart as we think. And who wants to admit that?

Thinking is difficult that is why most people judge - Carl Jung

So we avoid others perspectives, ideas. The result? Individuals living in their own bubble of unchallenged beliefs and ideas. This bubble keeps inflating with ever growing discussions and consumption of content created by like minded communities. And people then drift further away from the reality and each other.

A Possible Solution ๐Ÿ”—

I am not sure if there is even a solution. Common sense would suggest just try visiting communities that hold different view from you. But I don’t know how effective that would be. We all desperately want to believe the world is exactly the way we think it is. Besides the whole social media scene feels like corporations using us to increase the revenues. They don’t care if your world view becomes radically polarised. Remember the scene in Matrix where Neo wakes up to see millions of people plugged into Matrix? The whole social media feels like that to me. Maybe I am being paranoid about this or maybe I have created my own bubble? Who knows the Truth?

I guess one thing we could do is hang out more often with people in real life. The more we will do that, the lesser we will need social media. Hopefully this is the outcome of this age of Social Media.

Academy of ideas did an excellent video on this topic. Check it out below. You can also check out their other videos and subscribe to them if you find them interesting.

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