Yeah, me neither. End of blog post. Joking aside, and this may be weird coming from a 28-year old millennial, but life before smartphones really was a simpler time. These thoughts were spurred by the recently released Netflix special “The Social Dilemma”. In The Social Dilemma, tech leaders who formerly worked for Google, Facebook, and other tech companies are interviewed.
The commentary was certainly jarring, but largely confirmed what I could have guessed about the social media apps — that these apps monitor your every page views and interactions, and target content and ads towards you. The result is manipulation and emotional control, beacuse they have every single data point about who you are by analyzing what you look at online, and then they show you content and ads that they want you to see (not that you want to see).
Or at least that’s the premise of The Social Dilemma. I personally see a lot of truth in that, and I can see how social media apps have controlled my life at times. But what if people could take back their lives, put down their phones, and go back to the Stone Age of 10 years ago — life before we were glued to our smartphones.
Remember what life was like back in the early 2000s? As a kid, you would have had AOL Instant Messenger as your only social media means, and the internet was full of sites that proved critical for school research projects. But besides that, when you walked away from the computer, you had to go interact with the outside world and not with a screen. You might carry a basic flip phone, but you weren’t looking at it often and sending a text on those models took absolutely forever. However, I’m extremely grateful that I grew up in those times and didn’t have to deal with all of the downsides of social media exposure, especially during the teenage years when the most emotional distress and brain development was occurring.
I have fond memories of the summer days (which was most days) when I was forced to go ride my bike and find other kids in the neighborhood to play sports with, as there was simply nothing else to do in the house. There was no sitting around on smartphones or on someone’s computer (at least until high school). Another fun memory included have to call your middle school crush on their house phone and asking their parents to put them on the line — can you imagine the “trauma” that would give most young teenagers today?
My conclusion is — I had great memories and experiences growing up, and they were all accomplished without a smart phone in my pocket. I want to get back in the habit of not relying on my phone as much and cutting down on social media, as my average screen time per day is… well, I’m not going to get into that!