wanderlust

How To Dismantle Social Media’s Tyrannical Attempt to Control Your Free Time

Illustration by Ilya and Emilia Kabakov

Illustration by Ilya and Emilia Kabakov

We are, quite simply, being inundated in the worst possible way by social media. I know this is controversial, and I know that many will disagree, but I challenge you all to think of a time that you have felt unsettled or disturbed just scrolling through your newsfeed. I bet that most of us have experienced this before, even if they are not able to recall specifics. Today I have seen countless news clips and articles related to the Orlando massacre. Some call for an end to gun violence, some speak out against judgement. Some serve political agendas – Trump this, Hillary that.

So you scroll down, you pass the status of that one girl in high school that ended up getting pregnant your senior year, sharing sick memes of the Stanford rapist’s headshot next to Snow White’s unconscious body, Bill Cosby in the background motioning an “A-OK” symbol. When you’re thoroughly disgusted with this, you scroll down to see more news on the worst mass shooting in US history… but of course, a little bit further down you see self-proclaimed historians preaching about how the Battle of Wounded Knee was actually the worst gun-related tragedy, killing nearly 300 people. Once you’re depressed about the horrible and unfathomable actions of the human race, you stumble upon the advertisements that Facebook so graciously puts in your face on a daily basis. “Work hard, so you can shop harder!” You shut your computer off and walk away, but you know you’ll do the same routine tomorrow.

Between all the puppy videos, conspiracy theories and old elementary school friends sharing the highlights of their life (which only leads you to question the quality of your own), you are wasting your time; time is a precious thing. Go out into the world and make a change. Instead of sitting behind a state-of-the-art LCD retina-display laptop feeling sorry for the homeless dogs in India, or dreaming of travel plans that you’ve had for years, go and do it. Your life is too short to waste a single moment on the politically motivated, yet seemingly not so, posts of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Create your own opinions. Educate yourself on facts, not biases. Experience the world on your own, instead of watching yet another Huffington Post Travel video and jotting down notes in that college-ruled notebook you keep by your bedside. Make your dreams a reality, and stop giving in to Cosmo’s latest sex tips to “Give Mind-Blowing 69” — spoiler alert: be enthusiastic and enjoy yourself, that’s the key to good sex. You sure as hell can have a good time without rubbing ice cubes in each other’s nether-regions, ‘experts.’ Unless that’s your thing, then get off the fucking Internet and get yourself to the nearest freezer.

I went away for six months, obsessed with a guy that didn’t reciprocate those feelings, so much that I wrote a poem for ArtParasites about him, About The People Who Come Into Our Lives At The Wrong Time. During my travels abroad, I’ve learned more about myself and grown more confident than ever before. I met a man, an honest and good man that I truly fell in love with. I could talk about the way he smiled, that lopsided grin that melted my heart. I could talk about his rich, deep voice, the accent that rolled off his velvet tongue. I could talk about the way his long, dark eyelashes kissed my stomach as he dropped his head lower and mine soared. I could talk about the tears that wouldn’t stop falling as we said our goodbyes, or the hope present in my heart, so passionate and large that it threatens to rupture the thin membrane encasing it.

I won’t though. I won’t go into detail, and I won’t act as another billboard for you to become distracted by.

I understand, I understand more than most that when you’re hurting, you need distraction. You need to read the works of others to know that you’re not alone in your pain in this cruel world. I know the feeling of depression. Numb and bored, sometimes social media offers a refuge for people like us. You read the same things over and over, creating some sort of cycle. Refresh. Refresh. Refresh.

The challenge this month is to be sincere, bravely sincere. This is me, being sincere about something that bothers me immensely. Use your time wisely, you don’t have an unlimited supply. Read literature, read posts on the Internet, read everything you can; but when it comes time to decide between reading about it and actually doing it, I hope you make the right decision. I hope everyone makes the right decision. I hope you don’t get too caught up in the propagated agendas of social media’s chairpeople, I hope you have the willpower to say enough is enough.

Written by Alex