Goodbye Social Media: Mental Health Awareness Month 2021

This year, Mental Health Awareness Month is planned. The topics I have picked in advance and am gradually adding to over the course of months. With this more organized approach to my series, it’s the perfect opportunity to gradually document my social media habits as I begin to shed them.

As of now, I’m about a week into uninstalling Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, and Hinge on my phone. On my Computer, I have unbookmarked the social media sites; if I want to hop on Facebook, I manually have to type the URL. I have always considered myself not to be an avid user of social media. I post a little but not a lot. The other night that changed. As I was scrolling through my dystopian doomsfeed I realized that I was miserable. I derive no joy from Instagram. Most posts are meaningless and add no value to my life whatsoever. I have friends who post a story a minute and others who have lost sight of the silver lining. At best, people are posting about food or doing another selfie. At. Best. In this brief moment I realized that we are living in a dystopia and that all hopes for a utopian information age have all but been lost. Then I looked at Facebook. For every post I saw, I would see a targeted ad. And Twitter? Literal Hell. Negativity is unavoidable and a platform based solely on growth and engagement? Disgusting. Hinge? More endless scrolling in what would ultimately be a relationship death spiral. Match, get bored, match again with the 1% chance I get lucky. The very principle of dating apps diminishes the premise of a relationship itself.

So here I am, a couple weeks in and I feel better. I still log on to Facebook and Twitter but not obsessively. Youtube has become more slightly frustrating as I’m noticing the recommended section is solely designed to influence behavior. If Youtube removed the entire right half of its site, I’d be perfectly ok with that.

LinkedIn

Since 2017, after graduation, Linkedin has become the bane of my existence. Habits Facebook and Instagram instilled carried over to my everyday. I scroll, I like, and am told that it should one day have a payoff. And it doesn’t; Linkedin is a showcase of the superficial, a shrine to those who are lucky. It glorifies an unrealistic percentage of people and even then it frowns upon whenever grit is shown. My recommendations are now for Call Center work and systems that I assume were meant to help, have become my literal Hell. Our Social Media lives have become an episode of Black Mirror.

The Mental Drain

It’s all been exhausting. That is the best word I can use to describe my experience other than soul sucking. Social Media has broken people. We’ve been made to believe that it is the world and since we cannot tangibly see those who have turned away, the lie is easy to swallow. Even with all my other mental health habits well established, Social Media I never saw as posing a threat to my overall well being. I thought I could control it and I was wrong. I thought I was smart enough to keep a fine line between reality and fiction. I was wrong.

A Couple Months Now…

About a month into my social media cleanse, something bizarre began to happen; sites that never emailed me before began to “check in”, to let me know “all that I was missing”. That was Instagram. Facebook? Where it once told me if someone was having a birthday, I have wrought its fury and now receive email notifications mentioning individual actions my friends have taken. In this dystopian hellscape of a world, I know it is only a matter of time before its probing yields success. The emails have gone largely ignored other than mere curiosity and now horror as I watch the information age turn against me as I ignore it data.

Every Other Ad

As my language skills progress, the algorithms become confused. I know this because I get ads in German, Spanish, and now the occasional French. What was initial excitement has now devolved into questions that I’m not really liking the answers to. I’ve been giving information freely to Big Tech all throughout my 20’s thinking overall the benefit outweighs the cost. It took a Pandemic but I finally see the value in privacy albeit a little too late. There’s enough data to be on the cusp of dictating my behavior and that scares me. I worked at a Call Center? Here are some Call Center jobs I think you’d “enjoy”. Here’s a book, here’s what your friends are doing, and the list goes on.

Dating Apps: When Hinge turns into Fringe

If Hell exists on Earth, surely it exists in the form of our ever connected age. Dating, has become a matter of quantity over quality. The sacred has become a mad dash for people to be coupled and as I’ve found, strictly virtual dating is opt for failure. I’ve longed for a meet-cute and a chance to hold on to a moment of love that is more than a fleeting, long lost grab at the wind.

I have no solution

As will no doubt be a theme with this month, I have no easy solution to the problems I now find myself facing. Will I cave and reinstall dating apps? Perhaps. Will Facebook and Instagram manipulate my habits enough to shift what is now strictly a computer only affair to a once-again obsession I never knew I had? Perhaps. Will Twitter continue to be the societal destabilizer it has always been? Most likely. There is no avoiding the information age, that much I am certain. And it may become impossible to live with, if we are not already there. So all I can do now is try to disconnect while I still can and hope others are doing the same, that people are rejecting the notion that every moment must be digitized and that it is ok to exist in your own bubble, even preferred. And for the love of God, have the actions to back it up. Words are cheap, actions are not; in an age of little action and many words, wouldn’t it be nice to plant your feet firmly in the ground?

Brave New World: Utopia or Dystopia?

A common misconception with Dystopian novels is that our immediate assumption is that in an effort to create a world of ideals, those ideas somehow go wrong and that the mechanisms in place for these societies are twisted and perverted. We are looking for reasons as to why these societies could never work and very rarely do we entertain the idea that perhaps, indeed, they could.

And yet, that is exactly the question posed in “Brave New World”. It is not an evil society and the moments we wait for, the big reveal, dissipate. Depending on who you are, you might very well be happy in this society, if you can look past the horrors.

The Premise

With stem cell research a hot topic nowadays, I find it fascinating to read about a novelĀ  published in the thirties that has a society based on individuals incubated in test tubes. The dystopian twist is this is how classes are formed within the “Brave New World” society. In theory, everyone could be born an Alpha or a Beta, as it only requires an oxygen adjustment to the tank. Yes, that’s right. Depending on the amount of oxygen one receives during incubation will ultimately determine who that person will become. Less oxygen means you’ll slide closer to gammas, deltas, and epsilons. As can be guessed, Alphas rule over society and have the most freedom, Betas do important work but generally lead simpler lives while epsilons exist at the bottom of society, doing the undesirable work. To make matters worse (as if oxygen starvation wasn’t enough), toddlers are conditioned to hate that which nature intended for them to love. At night, inaudible words are played to dictate behavior and you have a recipe for a perfect dystopia.

And Yet…

The book touches on themes such as lifespan and poses a rather interesting question; would you rather live until 60 in perfect health or live past 60 with the potential of decline? In the book there isn’t much of a choice but the question has stuck with me even years after reading the novel (yes, I started this review years ago). Through Soma (the typical Dystopian happy pill), a world free of pregnancy, and open relations like you’ve never seen before, one might argue that this society doesn’t seem all too bad (at least for Alpha and Betas). One could also arguably make the case for Deltas and Epsilons that ignorance is bliss in what is just one of many controversial ideas of this book (still shocked this was written in the 30’s).

Hard to Say

The book also touches on the idea of Reservations and explores the concept of whether or not we are truly better off with unabated technological advances. The reservations preserve the culture and are left largely alone by the “modern” society. The book touches on many themes during this portion of the novel and is best read fresh. I could go in more depth but pondering the questions raised in this book while reading was quite enjoyable.

The Verdict

Even after years of reading the book, the concepts and ideas stick. This is a Masterpiece of literature and a must read. The ideas discussed and analyzed are some of the best I’ve ever read in any dystopian novel, putting it in a class all on it’s own.

New Horizon: The Tower

Previous Chapters:

Chapter one

Chapter two

Chapter three


Henry wandered through the forest, the leaves a gentle brown, dry and brittle to the touch. He had ditched his shoes and was now walking among the rocks of the creek. The wind began to pick up, reaching speeds of 128 kilometers per hour. The Earth had become a dangerous place.

Along the creek were remnants of what once was. Henry occasionally come across a cinderblock and rotten wood of houses that escaped the population explosions of the late 2050s. Scientists had expected the population to stabilize after hit 10 billion in 2030 but instead much of the old ways were still being practiced. Animal cloning had become a way to replace the natural and where farms should have been reduced, instead they only grew. Vertical farms were built in the late 2050s but by then it was already too late. What parts of the Amazon hadn’t been swallowed by the Ocean had turned kindling and our once breathable air became a little less breathable. 2040 saw the first carbon recapture unit and while novel at the time, it only encouraged companies to pollute more. Any benefit it might have had was lost to corporate greed.

Henry tripped. Muddy and damp, he picked himself up and looked down. He saw a large vine, no a tree trunk. Moss covered, old. Henry decided to follow. He walked a few steps, bent down and brushed the trunk off. It was black. It wasn’t a trunk, it was a wire. As it turned out, the wire led to an abandoned radio tower some ways off into the forest. Henry thought if he could climb it, he would have a chance to find his bearings. He could here the metal creak in the wind, it was a surprise the tower hadn’t toppled over by now. As he approached the tower he noticed the chipped red paint and heard a faint beeping. Why was the tower on? Wind turbines had all but been destroyed with the Mega Storms that came in the late 2060s and he could see a few busted at the base of the tower, an effort surely made to avoid the burden of high winds. The sun was beginning to set and Henry decided to climb.

At the base of the tower he found the dilapidated ladder that went straight up the some 609 meters it would take to climb. Henry reached for a rung and watched the metal splinter in his hand, the other rung held and he began to climb. Carefully and one rung at a time. The howling grew louder and the tower shook with the force. At times, it felt as though the wind was being sucked right out of him. About 500 meters up, Henry reached a point of the ladder a section had eroded and was missing. Pieces were strewn on a nearby structural beam. Henry swung with all his weight and landed with his upper torso on the beam. The ladder collapsed just as he made it across. “guess no going back now”, Henry thought.

Henry looked around and found some scaffolding. Makeshift and most likely done after shit had hit the fan. Henry went beam from beam, until finally he reached the top. The length of two football fields and he was finally at a small station at the top of the tower. In olden times, these stations would have been separate; a fire watchtower and a radio tower. As resources became scarcer and scarcer and cities larger, it made more sense to combine the two. As night fell, he saw the read blinking light and noticed the solar panels at the top of the structure. All these years and the structure held. Too dark to see, Henry made his way into the cabin and flipped on the lights. A gentle hum and then, light. Henry checked the cupboards and found some tea along with some canned food. “Coq Au Vin” or better known as cock with wine. There might have been a time when people cooked this dish, but in the convenience brought by mass production and globalization why bother? Henry always liked to cook but it was never considered a necessity. He turned on the stove boiled some water and made himself a cup of tea. “Winter’s Nap”, how delicious. He fried the canned chicken and ate a meal, a nice chance to catch his breath before he looked for the main debris field of the New Horizon.

He started a fire in the hearth, and settled into the bed. The sheets, still soft, reminded him of simpler times. Life was never really all that simple when he was born, but he always loved the process of settling down after a long day and feeling safe in his bed. As Henry looked up, he noticed the four skylight panels. These could be tinted off and on but Henry decided to leave them as they were as the fire crackled in the background. The sky was a gentle blue, speckled by red fireballs as the New Horizon continued to rain down upon the land. Henry gently closed his eyes and drifted off to sleep.


Another Chapter written! I’m having a blast writing this series! It’s great to finally be on schedule with my blog and producing content on a semi regular basis. How far I’ll go, I don’t know, but the story arch is starting to develop and I just hope I can stick the landing for my first go around. So stay tuned and get ready for chapter five as I begin to draft out the concepts for what’ll happen next! As always, thanks for reading!