In this article I am not discussing Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD) or Social Media Addiction (SMA) because I believe these to be not as broad in meaning. “Digital Media” refers to all things electronic using a binary communication schema; this is really the focus of the article.
People are saturated by media and moved by others in many different directions; granting themselves little time for developing individual thought, or even supporting their own arguments. Instead of focusing on one topic for a reasonable amount of time, the media of popular attention is flooded with the disposable responses of a thoughtless social structure. This has happened to such a point that a whole generational trend of internet users has risen, whose only application is to add controversy to any given topic instead of engaging in meaningful debate and conversation. I believe trolls and the practice of trolling is a waste of time outside of generating traffic for the content. People will even brag about their ability to create reactions in the atmosphere surrounding any given topic of a social arena. People who wish to discuss events in a genuine manner will always have to deal with the people who won’t. This is the epidemic effect I have witnessed over the past decade of Digital Media Addiction (DMA).
I used to struggle with DMA but I think I’m doing better now. I’ve spent more time on video games and following digital media than I care to disclose in detail. We all enjoy electricity and the benefit of its instant gratification possibilities. It’s a wonderful product but its misuse is easily overlooked. An overwhelming feeling of dependency can form from the constant use of any one thing. A healthy balance of use with any practice or product should be maintained, or at least pursued. I’m a believer that the internet and its social networks should be considered more like tools; engaged and utilized to achieve your immediate goal and then restored back to a state of rest in the toolbox. Today people speak about being lost without their cell phone, and young people think it’s a weird practice to engage each other in a more direct manner instead of just texting. Call me old-fashioned, but I’d still rather touch the ladies than tweet them. Understand that I’m not entirely rejecting social media; I merely want to keep a distance and maintain control of my information, privacy and consent. Few really know what they will want to do in the future, and I think it’s idiotic to ruin future possibilities by irreversibly exposing oneself in a single misguided self-exploitative mistake on social media. Far too often I see the young damaging their identity and credibility by trashing their consent and privacy. Information can be a weapon that knows no limitation of time and distance. And misguided decisions or lack of moral history can severely limit a person’s efficacy. What each of us make public as what we have said or done is important beyond what we can yet know. Meaning: It is wise to always be in control of the information you publish.
Each Facebook user is a social commodity. People are a marketable product. Usage of most popular social media sites includes a shrink-wrapped agreement to become a commodity to be sold and marketed. If there are ads on a site you use, the chances are you have agreed to waive your consent and privacy. If you don’t “go with the flow” and use social media as addictively as the rest, you may be limiting your present possibilities. But this isn’t necessarily bad. Being abnormal is simply defined as the antonym of normal (average, majority) behavior. It is quite average behavior to care less what contracts we click through as we use the various services of the internet. I certainly don’t read every word of these agreements. And the fact remains that the service provider will not haggle with the terms of service. You either have to agree or skip off. And if there is no directly overt attack against me for using the service, then I will weigh the pros and cons and likely decide to simply limit my exposure to the service. But it’s important to always remember the company does not care about any of its commodity users. We are all dollar signs of potential ad revenue.
I abhor marketing and advertising. I suppose I know enough about each of the practices to realize its traps and limiting factors. Marketing is the persuasion of a potential client toward believing they need, or at least want, a given product or service. Marketing is very much like advertising as idealized and reinvented by the propagandist regime of Lenin (Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov). “If you don’t want what we got, you haven’t been paying attention.” Thus is the essence of advertising at its worst. I want no part of marketing. I understand the idea of advertising as making information available so that people can make a more informed decision about a product or service. This practice can be annoying but is necessary for a number of obvious reasons. The transformation occurs when social media sites we’ve agreed to use, track our patterns and web history, then trade the information to specific advertisers that will individually manipulate each user into buying a specific product instead of informing people of options. Being directly marketed can be averted by: logging out of social media sites when you are finished using them, using search engines only when you’ve logged out of all your media sessions, closed any other services that you’ve agreed to allow track you in their ToS, and logged out of email when you use search and the rest of the internet.
All of that sounds like a Hell of an annoying protocol to practice, so it’s much easier to just ignore the marketing. That’s easy for someone like myself that is aware of the methods in which these technologies are used, but now I return from my digression and on to more of the point of this article.. The young are stupid, inexperienced and manipulated by even simple advertising. This is why there are people who have gone through the entire series of every single iPhone release, android version or other hot item of the month. They are slaves to their DMA. Many consumers have spent money in this reckless manner and refuse to acknowledge this as an obsessive disorder; there is certainly no company with a product to sell that will support this argument. People don’t want to be told they have a problem, they just want it to disappear by filling the void with the digital amusement of their choice, further supporting their addiction. It’s pretty bad when people are interfaced with a screen all day, plugged into Facebook updating their digital identity; meanwhile the cats need to be fed, dogs let out, house should get cleaned, boxes sorted through, food cooked, household members spoken to, or should go for a walk or do something physical to relieve stress.
The extent of my social media networking is a Twitter account I check maybe four times a week. I also still play a bit of video games and watch movies in the evening. The rest of my usage of the internet is primarily research for my writing. I still use digital media more than I want to, but it is on my terms. I feel that my skin hue is too white because I should spend more time outside interfacing with live people during the day. I live ten miles from a sizeable beach and I haven’t had my feet in its sand in years, that’s a shame. However, I am aware of my behavior and that empowers me to change. I seek to make others aware of this addiction, so that they too can be apt toward positive changes. It’s best to unplug and remove our shoes to feel the Earth beneath our feet from time to time. I believe the longer people remain disconnected from direct interaction, the more likely they are to be overwhelmed by bad habits and neglect significant deficiencies of the self. It is important to end this article by highlighting I am not passing judgment on others for their behavior; I’m more so speaking with a mindful aversion of repeating personal experience.
-Jeremy Edward Dion