Updated: Aug 11, 2022
I started using social media in 2011; I was drawn to it, not because someone forced me to or not because someone in my circle was using it, but purely because I was curious about what this technology possessed. So, I opened a Facebook account as a 13-year-old boy.
And then, in the beginning, it didn't interest me much. Nevertheless, as time went by, I saw that Facebook was taking a lot of my time, and then I found many interesting people on Facebook. I was sharing a lot of things. I found it a lot fascinating to witness their other side.
And as time went by, I started posting; I remember once at the beginning of my usage of Facebook. I received a message from someone. I thought for a moment that he was trying to have a conversation with me, but he just told me, "Hey bro, hit the like for my profile picture, and I will hit like for yours," and I thought, "Whoa, is this about all likes?" But yeah, I didn't care much about likes, and he just gave a like, and it didn't strike me that a lot of like meant something to someone—a status symbol. So yeah, that was the beginning of the importance of likes.
And two years went by. In 2013, I became more active on Facebook because I moved to a new school, and students were more active on Facebook than in my previous school. I also got a lot of attention due to my photos and writings. I started posting them often. People were aware of what I was doing, and fast forward, I'm 15. I opened an Instagram account, I had an Instagram account earlier, but I didn't use it much. And then, I started posting on Instagram, and I had a tiny circle on Instagram. I was happy about posting good photos on Instagram. Getting not much attention was fine. Also, this "follow" and "unfollow" thing was happening. Flash-forward. The stories were introduced on Instagram. It didn't matter much to me, but it captivated my time. I was using a lot of Instagram, and Facebook started dying.
I had FB for sign-up purposes only. But then what happened? Instagram became more like an information dump, extremely attention-seeking during the COVID. Everyone wanted some piece of fame. It's okay. But I felt it to be deteriorating in a way that I have pushed away from Instagram as days went by and reels happened.
Reels are more like TikTok. But reels tend to give false hope that you will get quick fame. It was in the beginning. You may get good business out of reels, but apart from that business due to fame. It was draining. Yes. Maybe. Creators and artists who are genuinely creating something. Yeah. Even they felt disheartened due to the algorithm sometimes.
I might be wrong. But now, I think that a significant chunk of my life has been over a period changed from "I like to do what I like to do" to "I want to do what people like to see." I think the transformation from that to this is soul-sucking for me. It's not encouraging me to be the true self which was more peaceful and produced original art. I'm not saying that I'm not producing original art, but it seems like I am forcing myself to show people what they might like more constructively.
I don't know; hmm. Let's see what happens. So yeah, now I'm using Instagram only to post things; once I do that, I immediately uninstall it. I don't care about my likes or comments. I just post and leave Instagram. And I don't even check my friends' messages or reels because they often send me something which may give me a temporary dopamine boost. I don't need that.
But then yeah, it all seems like repetitive content. I need to do something which gives me happiness. I want to break away from the thought that I need constant validation. I feel better when I don't use Instagram, and I consciously think not to get validation because that is our instinctive behavior from our ancestors, but to be aware of it and overcome it. Liberates us. This action goes a long way in rewiring our brains.
Our world has become way too fast in the last ten years. We are constantly urged to share a snap of what we're doing or a story of the food we're eating. Sometimes it feels like things that happened last month seem like six months ago. This is in no way good; we forget to live our moments. Why? To seek validation or to promote happiness in sharing the image of eating food? I don't have an answer. Maybe I have.
But, one thing I'm sure of happening to all of us is "information fatigue."
We are being bombarded with a lot of information, which is unnecessary. So we think this incident happened months ago, whereas it happened three weeks ago. Seems like we even forgot what we saw the last week. Every user's account algorithm is different. Algorithms cleverly know what to suggest and what not to, what keeps you hooked to the platform. So it's not just about selling the data to the big companies; it's not just about that. It's about the time leverage. We are leveraging our time and giving it to someone else, losing our souls, dreams, peace, and ourselves. Consumerism is a whole another topic.
All I'm saying is we need to come out of it. Somehow, I'm not seeing that happen anytime soon. I'm also not suggesting you immediately quit Instagram, Facebook, or anything. All we have is just one life, and this hyper dopamine craving mechanism kills motivation to work on something that pushes us ahead. If we lose our motivation to work on something, our civilization will stop progressing over time. Technology will not progress automatically. We need great minds.
And in the end, if we don't have control over this, we might end up in a self-destruct mode. So yeah, I'm just pouring in my thoughts so that someone in the future finds yet another article about the beginning of 'the information fatigue age' or 'the end of civilization.'