The body of commentary considering the personal and societal cost of social media, and especially Facebook, continues to grow.
While on Facebook and Instagram, I would see a lot of affirmation for people’s milestones: Their engagements and weddings, their world travels, pregnancies and births, their new jobs. I unwittingly started to think about my life in that way, relegating the in-between periods between these major milestones as mere filler.
If I didn’t have anything worthy of a social media post coming up, I felt that I had nothing very important going on in my life. I’d feel a growing urgency to start planning something big or make a change to stay relevant.
Without social media, that pressure melted away. I started to enjoy life’s more mundane moments and take stock of what I have today — a great job, a wonderful community, supportive friends and so on. I could take my time and enjoy it rather than rushing to the finish line.
In short, I started to feel happier and lighter.
It’s true that most of the blame for Facebook’s wrongdoing should be laid at the feet of Facebook executives. The Times investigation shows that even as leaders like Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg have touted their platform as a force for good over the past two years, they’ve kept quiet about Russian interference in the 2016 election, lobbied to shift criticism of social media onto Facebook’s competitors, and even paid a third party to discredit its detractors as anti-Semites. This puts the lie to the narrative these executives have long stuck to: Namely, that Facebook’s missteps have been the result not of malintent, but of the thing simply growing faster than they could keep up with.
But we are all a little bit complicit. Facebook’s influence comes from the fact that the 2.2 billion of us who still have accounts have made a deal with the company: Take our data in return for a free, reliable source of dopamine. The resulting trove of personal information is what enables Facebook to empower advertisers to target “Jew haters;” to accidentally turn this data over to political campaigns and hackers; and to pay for the lobbyists who try to make all this look less bad than it is.