by Darrin Schenck

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by Darrin Schenck

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Social Media is the Gateway Drug to a lot of Problems.

There, I said it.  I mean it, I believe it, and I am going to write a blog about it. Buckle up, buttercup, this one might sting a little…

First things first, Social Media has become as addictive as heroine and other hard drugs.  In fact, Social Media IS Emotional Heroine.  It pulls you in, compels you to ingest more and more to get the same “high” as that first hit gave you.  You start with one form of the addiction and it expands from there.  For me it was Facebook way back when it first grew in popularity, but before my mom was on it.  I resisted at first, I knew intrinsically that this was not going to be a good thing to get involved with.  A friend of mine, younger than me, brought it to my attention and encouraged me to download it.  I did, and before long, I was adding “friends” who also jumped on the bandwagon.  It seemed harmless at first, but slowly some of the downsides of this addiction showed their hand.

As the coach of the Racquetball Team at ASU, all of the college kids had a FB profile, and of course they wanted to communicate in this fashion more than email.  So, someone took it upon themselves to set up an FB group just for us, and it became the primary way I communicated information for practice, upcoming events, etc.  Of course, I was connected to the friends of the kids on the team and my “network of friends” grew.  It was addicting to share something and have people comment.  It didn’t matter if I knew them or not, in fact, it seemed better if I didn’t know them and they still took the time to comment.  As so the dopamine addiction begins…

Then along came Twitter, and soon after that Instagram, SnapChat, and now of course TikTok.  The generation of kids now will have grown up in an era where this has always been in place, and part of life.  THAT scares me; at least I have had the luxury of having a foot in both camps.  I knew life before social media, and I now live life with social media as an integral part of society.  Do I still indulge?  Of course, and I know that is is with too much frequency.  I have no problem never turning on my TV again, but the hold of social media is strong.  Plus, I have worked to curate the algorithms to feed me the things I am interested in and benefit from.  But of course, the algorithm is always feeding me new things too, so I don’t “miss out” on something else to consume.  I do not follow influencers, but rather look for topics of interest so I can learn and educate myself.  I post videos on occasion.   My latest thing has been to join in on the cold plunge challenge.  After watching Joe Rogan and others do it, and learning of the benefits from people like Dr. Andrew Huberman and Tim Ferriss, I decided to take the plunge, literally.  The first time was rough, and all I did was hyperventilate and jump out after 30 seconds.

Now I can do 3 minutes and control my breathing enough to talk throughout a three minute video.  This has been a great experiment for me, and I am glad I undertook the challenge.  And of course the comments are what you’d expect.  Some people applaud the effort, others tell me I am crazy.  I even got called a Walmart version of Joe Rogan…hilarious, but my guess it was not meant in a nice way.   And herein lies the problem with this format, anonymity breeds confidence.  When someone can hide their identity and say whatever they wish, the worst tends to come out.  Like Mike Tyson said: “People have forgotten what it’s like to get punched in the face for something they said.”  So true.  If you have spent any time on Twitter, this seems to be the norm.  There is so much negativity and venom it is crazy.  The human brain is not built to filter through that much crap with such frequency.  Add in the fact that the social media platforms have been guilty of suppressing the voices of those they had decided should not have one, and it is really starting to look like there is not much upside to these at all.

In my opinion, here is the real issue:  The comparison game.  We as humans are guilty of it across the board.  In ancient times, wars were fought because one king wanted the queen from another kingdom as his own.  Now, we look at the material trappings that others flaunt on social media and think we need those things to be happy.  People should not be working two jobs just so they can drive a Tesla.  Running up the miles on your Tesla by driving for Uber on the weekends, just so you can say you drive a Tesla is the perfect example of what I am talking about.  Stop giving a crap what other people think, and start constructing yourself a life that makes you happy instead of comparing how big your pile of toys is to others to determine if you are winning or not.  THAT IS STUPID, and not sustainable.  Allow me to clue you in before it is too late:

NOTHING YOU CAN BUY IS GOING TO MAKE YOU A HAPPY PERSON

Please reread that aloud, and hear yourself say it.  Get out of the game of trying to impress people you don’t even know.  Save your money, get out of debt, and give yourself freedom and options.  THAT is the real definition of rich.  Don’t live paycheck to paycheck any longer than you absolutely have to.  I know, I have spent a lot of my life there, and now that I am on the other side, things are very different.  I sleep better at night knowing that I could not work for a year and not have to adjust my lifestyle much at all to do so.  I am not quite to the “retire anytime I wish” (otherwise know as eff-you money) but that year’s worth of financial leeway has been a huge burden lifted.  I drive a 2016 vehicle, and live in a small house in a decent neighborhood.  I don’t go out to bars or major sporting events on a regular basis.  My money is spent wisely, and I pay myself first.  I don’t care which of my friends has a new car or a bigger house than me, we are still friends either way.  My bank statement and theirs are not part of the criteria to be friends.

I realize that telling you to quit all social media is not a very realistic thing.  Like I said, I am a consumer of it myself.  But what I will suggest is the following:

–Cut back on it incrementally, and get under an hour a day of “exposure” to it.

–You don’t need productivity hacks, you need to focus better.  Stop letting your phone notify you of                  everything happening around the world all the time.  Turn off your notifications.

–Limit how much you share with the world out there.  Remember, EVERYTHING you ever put online              or on social media is there forever.  Don’t want to get canceled down the road?  Stop posting crap                that might come back to bite you.  Want a future employer to see everything you have posted?  Of              course not, so plan accordingly.

Stop the addiction, or at least take steps to control it.  Your mind is focused on what you feed it, so go on a social media diet and note how much better life is and happier you are.  Call people and talk to them instead of DMing them.  Live like a unique individual instead of part of the herd that follows every trend that comes along.  Be a lion instead of a sheep.

I wish you luck in your endeavors.

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