This particular Field Guide post is going to be very brief (and quick on my part) since I’ll be mentioning a website that I found for another project in another class. In short, I had to conduct a digital detox project, basically staying away from the internet for 24 hours, and write about how it went. For the write-up, I searched for a source to use as a reference point, and I stumbled upon an article called 9 Positive Benefits of a Social Media Detox, which is written by Holly Chavez. It actually includes some interesting points on the list.
One of the items in that article includes the competitive nature of social media. Although it may not seem so on the surface, social media, especially the way it is structured, indeed promotes competition among individuals. The author, Holly Chavez states that “each reaction and comment is a measure of how popular a particular post is, which can make [a person] strive to outdo others and even [oneself]”. This is a key aspect that subtly breaks the healthy nature of socializing online —at least in my opinion. It propels the development of self-centered attitude and eliminates the possibility of civil discourse as people dismiss others’ opinion in favor of their own. The emphasis for a lot of people become “My opinion is better than yours, see all the ’likes’ I’m getting…” instead of “I happen to have a different opinion… what do you think?”. It’s simply “a race” to the finish…How many “likes” or “retweets” did you get as opposed to contributing to the larger discourse. Hence, the reason why majority of stuff we see on social media is simply noise —or “hot air”, if you will.
This competitive nature can also be very, or even extremely, dangerous for a lot of people, especially the young generation (I‘d like to avoid the term “millennial”). I’ve already talked about the perspective of seeing social media as “the thing that everyone does”, or as an undetachable aspect of social life, in one of my previous posts. That perspective applies to every feature of social media, sadly. The competitiveness is forced upon these young people, and they struggle to cope with it. For some, it might seem like “a good thing” because the assumption would be that it prepares them for the real life. However, the pressure and the weight of contention, and “failing” to be on par with others, could cause mental damage. The person can develop self-loathe or apathy for success. Imagine the social media as the authoritative parents who force their kids to be the best there is in their respective schools, and how much damage it potentially causes them. It’s not all that different, really.
It’s interesting to simply sit back and observe the world. In this case, it was reflecting upon the digital world. I do recommend everyone to try to do the same project whenever the time allows for it. You might discover something that you could not otherwise. I personally had a lot of fun with it. As far as the negative impact of that competitive nature and possible solution… I’m not really sure. Perhaps, the idea of eliminating the “likes” in favor of something else could be the first step. Though, it wouldn’t be the be-all-and-end-all solution necessary to overcome it. Is detoxing an option?… Maybe?
I think I’ll end the post here because it’s becoming (if it hasn’t already) another negative/pessimistic blog post. Perhaps, it’s an innate nature of the class. Oh, well. Still, I believe this whole thing was worth bringing up. I’d rate the website 7/10, specifically in terms of its usefulness for the Field Guide. On its own, I would’ve certainly rated it higher.