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?

Hades: A short story by Mike Cole

Hell. A place long forgotten, a land of dead Gods. Tales have existed since the dawn of civilization. His search was over; the long forgotten forest had been found. A lifetime of research had led him here, an insignificant forest located on the Underbelly of Volcán Wolf, thought to be the Oceans end. The land was scorched and the ground gave a molten hue. Embers sprinkled the landscape and lava poured from the volcano into the Ocean, creating steam as the heat touched the surface of the water. The sun was beginning to set and as it hit the scattered boulders with a crimson glow, he thought he could very well be among the land of the dead. Night enshrouded the island.

With a torch in hand, he kept moving. He could feel death creeping slowly and every now and again he would see a shadow move out of the corner of his eye. He walked through the charred forest until he reached the cliffside, jagged rocks awaiting him below. He slowly began his descent.

The Ocean greeted him as he walked down the narrow cliffside, finding it strange that a path had seemingly been carved into the rock. Lava began flowing from the cliff above and violently splashed down unto him; he felt a searing pain in his right arm. His flesh began to burn and melt. A wave crashed and his arm turned to steam. When the mist cleared, his arm was bone save for a few tendons still attached. He didn’t much feel the pain, adrenaline having done it’s work. As he got closer to the water, snow began to fall; how odd. Fire and Ice, two entities that typically don’t coexist. The snow swirled, blinding his vision and he awoke in a cold sweat. He did not remember drifting off and the ever present snow was gone; had it only been a dream? The wind whistled in a tone that almost sounded like whispers and rain began to pour; soon, thunder and lightning would follow. He entered a cave near the volcano.

Water fell on his head. It felt warm. As he went to wipe it off it lingered on his hand, refusing to yield. He moved his torch so he could see what appeared to be a red substance, with a smell of iron. He heard rushing water and looked to his right. A red river? He blinked and the water was crystal blue. Was he dreaming or was he awake? Thunder struck outside and the rain howled with the wind. The howling grew louder and louder, no longer seemingly coming from outside but rather deep within the cave. The torch flickered as a gust caught hold and the shadows danced around him. Three heads began to form; the Torch went out and there was silence.


And thus October has begun. As the blog continues to grow, I am grateful for the support. I enjoy writing and have been thrilled my poetry and short stories have been so well received. As I’ve brainstormed ideas for the blog, I decided on a month dedicated to the spooky and supernatural. This will be the first of hopefully many Octobers where I focus on the scary and the beauty of the changing of seasons. I hope you all enjoyed this short story inspired by Greek mythology! As a reminder, if you would like to support me as a creator, below is a link to my Patreon and Ko-Fi pages!

Support this Blog!!!

If you like my content, consider following, liking, and sharing with others who might enjoy. And as always, thanks for reading! What are you most excited about for the month of October? What are you doing to celebrate the season? Let me know in the comments below!