Is Social Media Killing Us?

Is social media killing us? If so, how do we fix it?

Correlation is not causation, but still there is a huge correlation between rising depression rates and the ascendancy of social media. For example, teenage depression started going up about the time the smartphone was introduced.

Now we are in the midst of an opiate addiction epidemic and a suicide epidemic, as highlighted by recent celebrity suicides. We always talk about how 30,000 people are killed by non-self-driving cars every year in the US. Well suicide is lots worse. Last year, 45,000 Americans killed themselves. Suicide is up 30% for the population as a whole, nearly 50% for some demographics.

The jump in depression and suicide may not ALL be technology-driven, but what if it’s just MOSTLY technology-driven? What if it’s just 25% technology driven? Would we put up with anything else doing that kind of damage?

How is it doing it?
Unhealthy memes?
Narrowing narratives?
Status anxiety?
Nihilism-inducing pointlessness?

What is the cure?

Relinquishment — Would probably work, but it isn’t going to happen. Still, it might be more possible than it sounds. In the 1950’s one might confidently say that we would never get people to quit smoking. Today we might say the same thing about social media. Maybe someday we will be smarter about social media like we are about smoking? Maybe? But getting back to the original point. Not. Gonna. Happen.

Power through — maybe technology will eventually not have these adverse effects. So we have to just stick with it until it makes us stop killing ourselves. What could go wrong?

ESCAPE! — Maybe we can get away from the adverse effects of technology…USING technology. Perhaps virtual worlds or even just curated online communities will protect us from the nasty side effects of being connected to too many people too superficially.

We Adapt — Maybe we will have to reprogram ourselves. This may involve learning new strategies for online behavior. But it could go much further than that. Maybe we will need to literally reprogram ourselves. Neural prosthesis to protect us from the nasty effects of social media. Or maybe genetic reprogramming to make us less prone to addiction to begin with.

Eternity Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) | Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License | http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0
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