Have you noticed folks are increasingly skeptical about social media lately? Lawmakers are starting to regulate it. Scientists are increasingly vocal about its dangers. I also see this skepticism in friends and family. One of my daughters is a high school teacher, and it only took her a few days of teaching to declare that the “biggest problem is TikTok. “ Her kids were addicted, and I don’t use that term lightly. Some could not stop watching videos during class until she took away their phones.
Just yesterday, I was listening to a saxophone podcast (yes, a saxophone podcast) where the guest explained that young musicians couldn’t find their own voice, because they are constantly comparing themselves to videos they see on TikTok instead of exploring their own art.
If you look for it, you see constant evidence of people rebelling against social media. I spoke to some teens about this subject, and one told me that she deleted all the social media apps from her phone because, in her words, “I just couldn’t resist. “ If only everyone had the self-awareness of that young woman!
Now that science has had a few years to study social media and its impact on humans, particularly younger humans, it’s clear there are negative consequences. I’d argue that these consequences equally apply to older humans if they’re not careful.
This increasing groundswell against social media is a comfort. I never quite got the swing of social media. I like making stuff for the Internet. I like putting my ideas out there and seeing what happens when they crash into other people. But I never found social media to be very useful for that. I’m not witty or clever enough for social media. I’m more long-form than short-form, so social media never really got hold of me.
Cal Newport was one of the early ones talking about the dangers of social media. His recent New Yorker article explains that he’s not as alone in these thoughts these days as he used to be. That’s a good thing.
My occasional rants against social media may seem off-brand for a guy who pays for his shoes talking about technology. But when you think about it further, my thoughts are entirely consistent. Specifically, my goal with my content is to teach people how to use technology to pursue their best lives. Technology can help if used wisely. Social media works against that goal. If, as a society, we’re starting to think about ways to put some constraints on social media, sign me up.