Your phone isn’t killing you

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Being social in the digital age. Wikipedia Common

Social media isn’t the problem, it’s only the medium

We need to stop acting like clicking onto Google Chrome is akin to inviting the devil into your digital landscape. Society has decided that finding comfort in the internet is far more gateway drug than gateway to freedom.

We see these photo manipulations where cell phones are removed from social situations as if they’re the problem. Newsflash: the issue isn’t our access to mini computers in our pocket, it’s the soul destroying knowledge that capitalism is trying to engulf us as fast as it possibly can and that those making decisions see this as the natural order of things. If anything, cell phones and computers are lifelines. For every bullying incident on Instagram (also, fuck those kinds of people) there are 2SLGBTQIA+ and disabled people finding friends, resources, and outlets that they wouldn’t have found otherwise. For every Twitter mob or unneeded cancel culture kerfuffle, there’s Sixties Scoop survivors finding their relatives or social actions being planned under the nose of oppressive regimes.

It’s almost like painting with a broad brush ignores all the beautiful complexity underneath. Did I write another op-ed in this section complaining about social media etiquette? Yes, but do I think that social media conduct is the reason for a millennial apocalypse? Only if we become like our elders: stiff, unwilling to change, and fully on board with murdering the planet instead of challenging structural inequality.

The amount of burnout I see on social media is overwhelming. We’re using channels meant for liberation and social mobility that have been co-opted by the dregs of society. Unapologetic Nazis flooding to Twitter, misinformation campaigns shifting elections through the Facebook algorithm, child abuse for profit on YouTube, or the aforementioned cyberbullying and self image issues stemming from Instagram’s platform. Tik Tok’s data being mined by the Chinese government is scarier than any detox tea pitched by some minor influencer.

And yet, look at the connections that can be made. Relationships, whole publishing houses, solidarity in leftist movements, would not be possible without social media sites. We cannot pretend that these nothing but evil when they create so much (problematic) good. The anger that folks feel towards the perceived degradation of social skills should be redirected at the income inequality in our world, at Facebook’s ability to lead to a Trump presidency, the inaccessibility of the housing market for anyone who didn’t inherit wealth, the lack of labour protections for youth, the threat of privatized health care and schooling in Alberta or the slashing of arts funding and student centres in Ontario.

The quintessential question is why do folks rail on social media when there are so many other things to be angry about? The kicker is that the same people who think Facebook will lead to the death of the universe are the very people sharing fake news stories to debunk wokeness or leftist causes. We need to balance these things and monitor our social media consumption, but we also to need to resist the world’s insistence that social media’s value is merely fleeting and dangerous.

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