Being more Intentional on Social Mediaby Jaydeep P. Digital Marketing | SEO It’s a lazy Saturday morning and after a long week’s work, you feel like you’ve earned the privilege to mindlessly search through the news or the bits of information you picked up over the week. ‘Right I wanted to know more about Attribution Theory from this Medium article I read…or check more about the difference between Gradient Boosting and Neural Networks from this talk I went to’.
It’s this messy process of absorbing everything you encounter in the effort to ironically declutter the landfill of information you gathered this week. Next thing you know, you’re 30 tabs in. I thought I de-coded the best way to process all this information by using nice, organized, and color-coded mind-maps. But instead, I have a loose WIP databank with too much or too little information. Some of these end up being reviewed later but most of them end up being ‘archived’. Really, that just means they’re forgotten or ignored. By ballpark, I would say that that’s probably 90% of the notes I create.
I was reflecting recently on why I put so much energy on ‘processing’ pieces of information — whether that means random trivia or daily experiences. Some people call it reflection. But to me, this looks like a lengthy process that ends up with me asking myself (far too many times) why the heck this piece of information matters? But surprise surprise…some things don’t have a very high weighted value to even know — it takes more time to ponder why it’s important to know this thing than is it to forget it. Trust me, a lot of people think they have troubles retaining information, but I think we’re pretty great at remembering things — except that we often retain low-weighted value information that feed our biases. Perhaps, one of the lowest in this scale is the data we pick from social media.
I was sitting idly one Saturday morning staring at birds. This wasn’t super entertaining. I just locked myself out of my grad house suite without my phone and no one to ask help from. The landline phones were all broken…on every floor. I had 1.5 hours to kill with nothing to fidget on. I grabbed a random university magazine in the hopes that it’ll help entertain me and just speed up the time. It would’ve been the first time in a while that I’ve finished a magazine from cover to cover out of boredom, without having the distracting choice to read something more entertaining. And oddly, I was fine. It gave me something to digest…for what it was. Curating the content in this magazine wouldn’t have been easy…hey, I once edited our school’s magazine publication and it would take months to carefully select and plan which articles went after the other. How long ago has it been since I appreciated printed assemblies like this?
A week after that, my phone screen completely broke. The cracks gave way and it went black with hints of purple. I initially panicked…3 months worth of food pictures were gone. You would think it’s difficult to be forgotten but in our ultra-connected world, all you need to do is go dark. It was unfortunate but this anticipation got replaced by a nice sense of relief. I’ve been attempting to cut down on my social media use without success…this might just be the only solution.
I have a semi-detached relationship with social media, in part because of the difficulty to balance relevant content from my life with content that I assume matter to others. I can never understand why people do the ‘humble brag’ — what value do you expect people to extract out of that? So out of frustration, I ended up in the complete opposite of the spectrum: presenting data that had almost no meaning whatsoever to big personal moments or accomplishments in my life. Instead, I became the person on IG who carefully curated my grid based on color, light, and space. Sometimes I feel embarrassed that the only reason I post pics is so that I can have a filler white space in between pictures that look quite dark. I know…it’s stupid but I find ways to entertain myself.
To visualize this weird obsession, let’s look at a big summer trip to India. 3187 total pictures and only 6 goes to my feed because the color scheme is ‘a match’. And where does the rest go? True to retaining relevancy, those that are not travel-related go to ‘food’ or ‘engineering-related projects’. Because you don’t want to mess up that nice clean grid of blue and gold with a burst of red from cherry tomatoes, right? Food pictures go to another IG account, projects go to my engineering-relevant account. While my personal feed reflects my attempt to retain visual order, my other 4 accounts reflect an attempt to categorize my interests. And it pays to make themed accounts because it also cleans up content (or funnels the data) presented to you. I’m certain I’m not the only one who holds multiple accounts.
It really feels nice when people care about the things you post. After all, we spend a lot of time crafting our life in a way that seems most authentic to us, even if that means cutting down the smaller unattractive details. What we decide to take away speaks as much about us than the things we decide to show. My dumb obsession with color and space also tells you a bit of who I am. There is something really human with the desire to share bits and pieces of ourselves with others — we are communal storytellers after all.
Unfortunately, a lot of the tools that we have now aren’t just built for us to create. Most of them encourage us to digest a lot of information about other people — even if it feels like mindless scrolling. The information you receive can reinforce (or challenge) the narrative and personality you think people have. Imagine forming an impression of someone and then readjusting that impression every time you meet them. Social media feels like that, but the adjustment required is happening on a daily. That’s really exhausting. Now imagine being encouraged to make those impressions for new people (who you don’t actually know) because they were suggested to you. What feels initially like a way to connect, starts to feel more like an insatiable appetite to see more and follow more without any need to form real connections. Sure, it’s easy to ignore content to ‘regulate what you digest’ but it doesn’t mean you are immune to this consistent onslaught of information. Personally, I hate to admit, I’m definitely not immune to this at all. You just want to be intentional with the data you consume…but how do you do that with tools designed to do the opposite?
My phone screen remained broken for almost 2 weeks at the start of August. And honestly, if I had the choice, I would’ve delayed buying a new phone. Sure there are the inconveniences to not having a phone, like needing to call a cab through landline, going to a printing store to print a plane ticket, being unaware of most of the social events, not being able to go on an express line if you can’t scan a QR code. But honestly, it felt really good. When I had literally nothing to do, I didn’t fidget on my phone…I stayed silent and remained present. When I couldn’t sleep, I read a book. Reaching out to people felt more intentional. And there was something about the joy of missing out. There was something serene about not knowing (or feeling obligated to know) everything that happened to everybody*.
I logged back on to IG to clean up and deactivate some old accounts, and it didn’t feel like I missed anything nor did the fact that I am now ‘back and out of the dark’ matter in any way. Good thing I’m one of the lucky ones with the bandwidth to do this because I don’t have tons of followers #slightsmileemoji.
As I got back on, the online world just continued doing its own thing, forming feedback circles of creation and ingestion. It’s this nice Ferris wheel that we all join in but we forget that we can opt-out of the ride. That’s a conscious choice I’m making this time.
‘We shape our tools and they, in turn, shape us.’
*This certainly doesn’t mean I didn’t care to stay connected with friends! I spent more time intentionally reaching out to the people in my circles when it was possible.
Created on Sep 9th 2019 02:02. Viewed 152 times.