OP ED TO GEN Z: This Time The Withdrawals Will Kill You (A part of you that isn’t you)


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Known, Knowns


It might seem at first skim, or if reading the headline only, that I am a technophobe.


Although techno is nothing to fear, unless you fear being hypnotized to the point of pantsless dancing, I, don’t fear tech and I am not, in fact, cynical about our generation’s infatuation with it.


It’s not a me problem, it’s a you problem. (spoken like a true former addict) But it’s not too late.


I love reading Ray Kurzweil just as much as anybody especially on especially dreary days. And remember, he predicted, in the eighties, technologies like the fax machine and wear-it-on-the-belt beepers debilitating the USSR’s method of internal communication and production.


A similar technological cacophony is manifesting in our cyber-structured culture today. There’s this one familiar pathogen, the size of a computer virus, that’s easier to catch than mono.


Chances are, if you’ve managed to retain a parcel of personhood, and haven’t yet fully updated to The Singularity, you might identify as dependant, or for the honest ones among us: addicted to your social media accounts. Comparable to an opioid, coined as the “super opioid.”


We live in a world where you can shoot up every time you refresh.


You may scowl at the very thought of imagining yourself shooting up a vicious drug, but, the uncontrollable pleasure, or want, or need, or whatever you tell yourself that keeps the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning checking your social media accounts.

But you have very little power over this dependence; social media is what’s now addicted to you.


But you need them for your businesses, right? And you need them for your confidence. And you need them for personal connection. Or what would your family do if they didn’t know that you ate a bar-b-q and donut sandwich for lunch?  Your diary log of vapid expressions about the state of existence itself won’t have a home without it. And where would your ancient instinct to compare the shapes of the faces of others to your own go if you delete your social media accounts today?


But like any junkie: you know all of this. And most are complacent with this knowledge. So let’s skip the history lesson.
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Unknown, Knowns

What is the product in the social-media market?

Is it:

A. the phone, or the computer, or the network itself?

B. the quirky yet un-unique service that each program offers on its respective platform?

C. The media, you as an individual sentient being, create with your valuable time and expression


Or D. is the product you?


Well, it’s complicated

Yes. You passed the “not a robot test,” but with that said, you are the product of a sum of bots brought to you by way of malicious but popular millennial bots grandfathered by Instagram, Facebook corp., Twitter Inc. and affiliates that mine, market and sell your expressions and private information as data to an array of much scarier much more transparent companies (in an orwellian sense).


Fields and industries that define our postmodern era such as Telecommunication and Information Technology have been replaced with a new name: Data mining.


Phone service providers, like AT&T, were the first major companies to openly admit and train their gigantic workforces based on the principal’s of data mining. Their sources=your phones.

This process begins the undoing of centuries, if not eons of philosophical groundwork that predicate our conceptions of who we identify as individuals and what we identify as societies.


Even if we choose to neglect the negative impact on institutions that we as members of global societies keep employed to interpret and represent fundamental concepts to us and for us, like Law,  the Judicial Systems, or HR departments in the private sector, it seems these unclear motives are isolating us faster than we can be brought together.


Reducing our expression and our supreme social interactions of the present-future to virtual experiences instead of physical ones might’ve sounded like science fiction less than thirty years ago and in fact, can be nothing more than fiction without help from a separate entity.


We aren’t the only ones who think social media is hurting you. Articles published by Psychology Today prove more through, not just free association, but through science how harmful this drug is.


Hard Look in The Mirror (Or Front Camera)


The harsh reality, is that, whether you are willingly or unwillingly becoming a different person online, you are.


Selfies are not you. You are not your selfie. You, I repeat, do not have airbrushed skin and bright purple eyes like your snapchat filter allows you to have. And you also don’t have dog ears, either.


Social media has made us confused about our own image. And the sad part is, you probably like the online version of you more than you like the raw unfiltered version of you.


You’ve lost yourself.

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In reality you cannot put a sepia filter on you and your best friend having coffee. In the case of sex appeal, the filters can only go as far as an image. You are in deep trouble if your online image and real life image remain unsynchronized.


This must be devastating. It must be scary to think that in real life, without filters, without “perfect lighting,” and the perfect angles you don’t look like Kylie Jenner, and guess what, neither does she.


But then, when you do realize that you are more than a filter, and more than an angle, when you realize that you are an ever changing, ever moving, dynamic person. And maybe…just maybe you could get to know that person.


Brief Questionnaire

When is the last time you did something that you enjoyed (and as tempting as it is going on a vacation to post a vacation selfie does not count)?

How much of your valuable time (LIFE ON EARTH IS NOT INFINITE) do you spend scrolling, liking, mindless time?

Do you find it difficult to enjoy the people around you? To enjoy a conversation with an old friend? Are you so intertwined within your social projection of self that you spend your time WHEN YOU ARE WITH PEOPLE more focused on your bot self?

Do you feel as though social media has made you any smarter?

Do you feel less or more insecure after checking your feed?

Do you worry that you are not real, or do you fear, that, people won’t care about you if you are not your online persona?

Who are you? Who are you when you are unplugged, unattached, and offline?


The Surveillance Economy


The companies mentioned above deeply embed their intentions inside hundreds of pages of user agreements that very few of us take the time to read. And even those who do choose to read them need legal counsel to interpret some of the clauses. In short, signing up for a facebook account is nothing short of selling your virtual soul.


With the formal dissolution of hedge fund backed Cambridge Analytica in 2018, Zuckerberg and friends would love for us to believe that when his company sold untold millions of users information to the firm that interrupted real-life democracy in the 2016 Presidential Election was a one time unconscious mistake. But some of us aren’t as gullible.


The pursuit and power that behavior modification promises to the one who wields it is one among many of the priceless ancient desires of the masters of human fiscal society.

Similar to how the Alchemical pursuit of finding the spell that would render lead into gold led to the birth of the scientific method. Corporate actors that invest in the subliminal regulation of your online experience and collect your information, track where you go and sell that information to other corporate actors is part of their version of utopia.

Your complacency is key for this new form of capitalism to fully take shape. Where your subjective reality is the commodity that is bought and sold on the market. But though it may seem that the worst is yet in front of us, and though this trend is creeping toward a pseudo-compulsory compliance for social acceptance these days. The most practical and healthy solution is unplugging. Today. Now. Delete your social media accounts. After the withdrawls you will begin to intellectually flourish. Finding literal months of time that you didn’t think existed per year. Populate that time with your newly discovered imagination and the next time you feel the impulse for a hit, write prose, or poetry, or take a photo with a camera and make a connection for yourself before blindly seeking the affirmation of others. Respect your ideas for what they are: Physical Things. Not commodities. Don’t let them eat our minds.

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