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  • Writer's picturemaaeah

Unplugging From Our Reality 101: It's Getting Real Out Here

How do we get out of this futuristic, Artificial Intelligence-mind control and become regular humans again?

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I know I’m somewhat late in the game, but I finally watched The Social Dilemma on Netflix, and BOY are we screwed. I’m behind on watching the documentary, but it was just a reminder (and with horrific details) on what I and probably most of us already knew, social media is damaging our society! We are becoming robots, psychology manipulated beings of the wealthiest companies in the world. It’s sick.

One of the quotes, “If you’re not buying a product, you are the product,” is quite possibly the most terrifying dose of reality I could’ve heard. Companies are paying to get your attention, your engagement, and profiting off time wasted. That in itself wouldn’t be TERRIBLE, but it’s the side effects of the inability to properly communicate, anti-socialism, and the emotional distress it’s causing our young people and coming generations, and of course just a complete waste of time.

I’m a 90s baby, I grew up in an extremely transitional period. As a kid, I didn’t grow up with over the top tech usage, I played outside, I was forever involved in creative activities such as drawing, painting, reading, and writing. You never caught me in these streets without at LEAST two books. I used to tell people I needed two with me at all times, just in case one got boring for a few chapters. Can I get applause for outstanding self-management and entertainment? Nowadays you see one-year-olds screaming to be entertained by their parent’s cellphones. Or even worse, the family at restaurants that have tablets for every child *cringe*.

I grew up being introduced to technology. In grade school, I was required to write essays by hand, in cursive, and by high school, I was allowed to type (but there was no online submission, everything was printed and turned in by hand). It’s wild that we’ve now evolved into online classrooms, assignments are turned in by Dropbox and clouds and all sorts of virtual things. But what about the effects of all these scenarios that used to require some sort of human interaction, that now have been eliminated?

Take a moment to really think about it. You’re a 12-year-old girl, you wake up and scroll through Instagram. You get up and practice a TikTok dance, get upset because you can’t pull off that weird mildly inappropriate hip thrust that the teenie-bops are all doing. You spend hours trying to look like, “them.” Then you move on to selfies, you download five new filters that stretch your face, fill your lips, minimize your nose, extend your lashes, and shade your eyebrows. Finally, you look presentable! Now you just have to get the right angles, outfits, lighting and of course, pretend to be doing something SO FUN. Hours that you can never get back have passed. You hate all the pictures anyway, so instead of posting your work, you just continue to scroll and be envious of other people’s presentations of amazing lives on the internet.

It sounds like a joke, but imagine the actual stress it causes to feel obligated to produce daily masterpieces. Not only that, the disappointment you face when you look in the mirror and realize you look nothing like what you posted. Now you’re worried about in-person impressions. What if he thinks I’m ugly in real life? Well, you might as well just stay inside and sit in your misery of being too afraid to face reality. After all, today you can live your entire life secluded with no actual interactions anyway. The only concern is, should a time come where you actually have to use words to communicate it could be problematic. But then again, I’m sure there is a meme for you to express your true feelings.

Diving deeper, what is the next generation going to be like in relationships? Communication is a challenge amongst all ages and generations, but it’s never been as bad as this. I can’t imagine people being able to have healthy relationships without learning how to express and take ownership of their feelings. Social media influences and tells us how to feel, so what happens when I want to feel love for someone that doesn’t look like what social media tells me to (aka not an IG model)?

I’m honestly stressed. I’m trying to implement small practices of how I can disconnect without feeling completely out of the loop. This morning I put my phone on DND, set a timer, and read for 30 minutes uninterrupted. I followed this by completing my daily writing practice and now I’m feeling like I need to find a new hobby that also exercises my creative mind. I’m also going to turn off notifications on my phone, for any social media alerts. The truth is, I’m going to check my socials more than I need to anyway, but the goal is to try to remove aimless scrolling from my daily routine. I’m also highly considering removing my Instagram app from my phone and just leaving it on the other devices that I don’t take with me throughout my day.

Before I have kids, I have to break this horrendous cycle and habit of obsessing over the need to be connected all the time. I don’t need to know what you’re doing all the time. Last year, while walking the streets of Lisbon in Portugal, with my best friend in the world, we talked about how there was this nagging feeling to have to post about how much fun we were having. We realized that during the downtimes of our trips, we both were having these anxious feelings of not doing enough to prove that we were having fun. We were putting pressure on ourselves to live up to the idea of an Instagram photo.

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We subconsciously wanted people to be amazed at what we were accomplishing, we desired the approval, and behind the scenes, we were overwhelmed that maybe our trip wasn’t that amazing. It sounds completely ridiculous because it is! Thankfully, we caught ourselves and discussed it. I had my Canon camera with me, and we made an agreement to put away our phones and take photos with the camera only. And guess what, we had the time of our lives, Instagram didn’t know it, and we survived.

If anyone has other suggestions on how to get into a healthy practice of disconnecting, feel free to leave a comment, I’m eager to hear it. I’m scared, but I’m aware and I’m thankful that I’m making changes.

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