Wednesday I had lunch with the last man on the planet not on social media.
“The only ‘insta’ I use is instant oatmeal,” he said.
Another friend once said that “Facebook is the door in which the devil walks into your life.”
He’s not a nut. Actually he is a highly intelligent man schooled and deeply accomplished in the media world. And better yet, he was saying this long before others began to question their blind integration of social media in their lives.
My lunch friend, the one who limits his “insta” to instant oatmeal, is also a perfectly well adjusted and successful person. He has a wonderful wife, kids and probably a mortgage.
“So,” I said. “Are you happy without social media in your life?’
He looked back at me like I’d asked him how did he live without a daily dose of cod liver oil.
“I’m very happy.”
Remarkably the blinding shine of social media is beginning to fade. After years of unbridled enthusiasm, many people are beginning to question the time and effort they invest in social media. And furthermore, with a seemingly new option hitting the app store every time you turn around, where does one decide to put efforts?
In the United States, the average user is not a teenager, college student or newly married family with kids. On the contrary, those users are exactly the ones abandoning social media in legions. Nearly 43 percent of all users are over the age of 40. Some younger users already are recognizing social media may not be all it is cracked up to be.
My lunch friend is an example of life many look to longingly — a time before notifications, likes and emojis floating across their screens. He feels no pseudo-social pressure to participate in conversations because someone tagged him. He is even free to think political thoughts — and not share them across the digital landscape.
Yes, he is a man at peace with himself and the world around him.
This week I shared a video with friends about how social media is creating a world of terror between the ears of today’s youth (and others). Social media, the speaker said, is like a drug — literally.
“Every time you receive a like, tag or notification, your brain releases a shot of dopamine — the natural chemical designed to make us feel good,” he said.
“And dopamine is highly addictive. In society we have laws about alcohol, drugs and gambling — but not social media.”
The video was not recommending legislating social media, but it went on to identify how social media is a leading or contributing factor in rising teen suicides and other dysfunctional activities.
Life on social media looks great — even when your life is crap. And the images on social media can be lethally destructive to users.
I envy my friend at lunch. His world is what he sees, who he speaks to, what shows up in his email. When someone unfriends him, he moves on.