Social MediaReading time: 3 mins
I originally wrote this on my Instagram because there was an in joke that my random posts were ‘too political’ so I decided just to go full on political. I’m not sure if I should have expected anyone to have read it, and I suspect no one did (getting people to actually read stuff these days is very difficult). I actually would’ve like to have written more but Instagram has a limit on the caption you’re allowed to have so I had to keep it under that limit. A lot of this will be really obvious to those that are familiar with the subject matter.
The way social media companies work is actually very dystopian. Businesses normally provide a product to a customer for a profit. This, naturally, applies to social media companies. However, when it comes to these companies, you are not the customer like you might think you are. You are, in fact, the product, and the customers are the advertisers. The social media companies therefore need to collect lots of data on you in order to serve the right product (you) to the right customer (the advertisers).
In order for these social media platforms to keep their products, they need to keep us psychologically attached to their apps. They do this through several methods. Most social media apps these day feature infinite scrolling - there is always a constant stream of content for us to consume. There are often no queues for us to stop. Think of a newspaper (yes, they still exist), or a magazine. When you’re reading through it, you’ll eventually run out of stuff to read that interests you which is then your queue to stop reading, and go do something else (hopefully productive). However, with social media companies there is a constant stream of content personalised for you to keep you attached to the app.
But we can break out of this cycle. I challenge you to put down your phone after reading this, and do literally nothing for 10⁄20 minutes. You might get bored, but often your best ideas come to you when you are bored. This is also great for your mental health as it gives you crucial time for reflection which we often have little of in modern life.
After me saying all this, you might wonder why I am on Instagram. My answer is partially because of a lack of an alternative. It is still a good way of seeing what everyone is up to, and I like posting daft things to my Instagram to make everyone laugh. But I also intentionally don’t follow many people so I might only have a few posts each day to check up on. I would encourage you to only follow your friends, relatives, people you fancy (hopefully me ;) ), and possibly some political accounts that interest you.