Metric has this great song from their most recent album called "Doomscroller." It's a really fantastic ten minutes of epic rock music that bands just don't make anymore. I hope they're proud of it, because it's pretty good. I think the song is about getting consumed with rage by the things you find on the Internet. And I often wonder if all of that noise obscures the good things that you'll find online.
I've already declared that social media isn't social anymore. That's a bummer, but if you have reached that understanding, what are you left with? Admittedly, I hang on in the hopes that I see something from the people whose connections are slipping away. But I find the scrolling to be of little value, and I do it less and less. Indeed, I'm getting back to a place where I'm trying to not pick up my phone as the default thing when something else isn't earning my attention.
The worst thing is that the algorithms are pushing more "content" to you, and very little of it has any weight or importance. And of course it has been widely demonstrated that going down rabbit holes lines in bullshit is not hard.
I've tried to build some boundaries. I want to be an informed person, and receive actual news written by journalists. People who reject critical thinking will suggest that The New York Times is biased toward whichever side you don't align with. (Because you know, Americans have fully embraced everything as if it were a sports rivalry.) Network TV news, at least the evening shows, from the likes of NBC, ABC and CBS are reasonably trustworthy, if a little condensed and lacking context. And of course there are a few very good technology and science sites I try to keep up with.
But if you encounter something with a click-bait headline, and instead of it following inverted pyramid style writing, it starts with several paragraphs of search engine optimization and no lede, it's probably nonsense.
There's certainly a predicament here, because I believe that everyone should attempt to be civically engaged, and speak up when things aren't right. Martin Luther King famously said that it was white moderates that were the barrier to positive change, and that still holds true today. We can get along just fine with our heads buried in the sand. And while you can swing to the opposite excess, as a self-appointed white savior, we should all be looking out for marginalized people.
Not having barriers, and just scrolling and scrolling, that's not great for mental health. When there's a break in the action, see if you can keep your phone in your pocket. Look around, be with your thoughts. I promise there's nothing on that screen that's likely to improve your life in those moments.
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