What the World Needs Now or at Least What it doesn’t Need

In 1966 Dionne Warwick knew what the world needed.  Guess what, it is 2020, and the answer is still the same, “love, sweet love…not just for some but for everyone.”  I will tell you what the world doesn’t need; social media.  Bryan is reading this and shouting, “Hallelujah, she finally gets it.” 

I have discussed the perils of social media before, but this last week was a final put-my-foot down moment.  I watched the documentary, “The Social Dilemma” on Netflix, if you haven’t seen it, do it now.  Seriously, put the paper down for a second and watch it.  I will wait.

The major part of the film discusses the monetization of social media.  The original purpose of Facebook was to allow Harvard students to use their email addresses and photos to connect with other students at the school.  Now the intent is how to turn “connecting” into money.  Facebook’s revenue in 2019 was 70.7 billion.  How was that money made? They sold you.  This was not new news to me, but sadly it was something that I could tolerate.

What I cannot tolerate is what this is doing to us on an emotional level.  Social psychologist Prof Jonathan Haid, professor of ethical leadership at New York University Stern School of Business, was interviewed for the film.  He noted that for girls ages 15 to 19, there has been a 62% increase in self-harming since 2009, for pre-teens the increase was 189%.  Suicides in the US are up 70% for older teenage girls and 151% for pre-teens, again in relationship to the introduction of social media to these girls between 2011 and 2013.  

This news should be enough to make all of you get your kids off social media.  One person recommended not allowing your child to have any accounts until they are 16, everyone interviewed (all leaders in social media) don’t allow their children to have accounts at any age.  With that being said, I still haven’t touched on the part that changed me. 

Last week, I shared an article that mentioned that the presidential election is destroying relationships.  I believe this is true, but I see it in connection to social media and the internet in general.  We are all being fed different news; information that we want and information to stir us up.  I get that either way, we still will not all come together during an election, but how about COVID?  Shouldn’t a virus that has killed over 200,000 Americans and continues to do so bring us together, not drive us apart? 

On Sunday, after watching The Social Dilemma, I deleted my Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and TikTok apps from my phone.  Three full days in and I already feel like a different person. I have spent my extra time reading; 2 ½ books in 3 days.  So, yep, maybe I feel that you guys would be checking out more books if you weren’t spending so much time “connecting”, but the bigger factor is the emotional healing that I want for all of us. 

During the film Tim Kendall was asked what worried him most, “In the shortest time horizon, I’m most worried about civil war.”  That might seem drastic, but when I think about all the ugly we are experiencing, I can feel that we are already at war.  We wind ourselves up with the garbage that is fed to us and we go out and spew hatred.  Stop, just stop and heal, read a book, go for a walk, talk to your family at dinner, really watch a show together. 

I hope that you live your life to the fullest, not with your head bent over a screen.  I hope you realize your value is not based on the size of your “friends” list or the amount of reactions your posts get; you are so much more than any of that.  What the world needs now is for you to delete your social media and yes, of course, love, sweet love. 

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