Bursting the social media bubble
In the movie ‘The Truman Show’, the main character was raised in a contrived world, with every interaction controlled to produce a storyline for others to enjoy. As he became aware of his illusion, his efforts to break out of this bubble were thwarted at every turn.
Few people would willingly seek to be permanently trapped in a falsely created bubble, where our understanding of life becomes limited to a narrow band of information that we are fed. Sure some reality TV stars sign up for this kind of life for a short period of time, but to be trapped for our entire lives is not something people would consciously sign up for… but then again, would they?
While there is more access to information now than at any other time in the world, are we actually living in a world where it is getting easier to avoid, ignore or simply scroll past issues that maybe we should be paying more attention to?
More and more we are living where we feel validated by what we see and read, NOT because it is true but because we are reading what we have pre-determined we like.
At the time of writing, 31% of the entire global population is active with social media, with most users between the ages of 18-34 spending just over 4 hours a week on Facebook. In fact, for many this is their main source of news and information about the world.
The interesting thing about Facebook and many social media programs is that we are being fed information that is 100% determined by (1) who your friends are, (2) what you like, click and share and (3) what other websites you visit.
In essence, what we currently think and feel begins to limit the information we are exposed to and as a result eventually determines what we think and feel.
It is an echo chamber, with some dire consequences.
The more immersed we become, the more cocooned we become. People get more reactive to posts, ideas or information that takes us away from the warm feeling of familiarity that we want the social media feed to deliver us.
All the while, some of the real issues of life, the quality of our relationships, our health and wellbeing, the state of inter-cultural relationships, corruption and a myriad of other topics get glossed over.
Of course, some of these topics do show up on our ‘feed’ every now and again and we can be inspired to take clear and decisive action… we hit ‘like’ and feel good about ourselves, or on a particular passionate day we may even make the ultimate contribution to solving the world’s issues… we click ‘share’.
There is a certain level of irony that our miraculous opposable fingers/thumbs – that separate us from other animals and make us capable of great advances – are now being deployed to devolve our species at the clicking of a button.
Social media is not the only platform to ‘feed’ us what someone else has determined is interesting or newsworthy. This has been happening with the wider media landscape for decades. We never said no to this and so it has grown.
Which means that in a world where we are craving connection, TRUE information and real solutions, WE are still choosing to be fed the comfortable alternative, an alternative that is individually tailored to confirm exactly what we want to feel about the world, ourselves and others.
We are increasingly living in our own, self-created, self-maintained Truman show-like bubble, one that we may not even be aware that we are trapped within, but one that is in need of being burst.
The pin, should we be brave enough, is not to tear down mobile phone towers and ban the internet, but to be honest about why social media is so addictive.
Connection is something we naturally crave but for many people, rarely live consistently.
Social media delivers something close to this connection. It is close but it is not quite the same as true connection. Hence, like any medication that gives us some form of relief, we keep increasing the dose.
But if the medicine (social media) is not the right prescription, no amount of dose will ease the symptom.
So we have a condition (desire for connection) being fed by a prescription (social media), leading to a side effect (living in a bubble of our own comfort).
This suggests that the real prescription is something that delivers a deeper, sustained connection to oneself. The Gentle Breath Meditation offers a form of connection that is not ‘LOL cats’ and recycled quotes from unreliable sources, but the start of an ever-deepening relationship with ourselves and a life that is worthy of 1000 likes.