By Andrew Valdez
Social media is a tricky thing. On one hand, it gives us unprecedented access to our world’s news, politics, entertainment, and fuckery — I especially enjoy the latter. On the other hand, it consumes our time, energy, and — for far too many of us — our thoughts and the core of who we are as human beings.
It consumes our power to think, one of life’s most precious gifts. We have the power to analyze, learn, formulate, reason, evolve — and we squander these gifts daily. Our thoughts are wasted on ingesting things we could only agree with. Article after article, thread after thread reiterating what was said in the last until our minds are effectively a superhighway leading to the same destination we arrived at yesterday. These platforms are tailormade to lead us, no, FORCE us to absorb information that will bring us to exactly where we SHOULD be.
🚨 Twitter does not give a fuck about you having a critical thought 🚨
They built an algorithm to ensure that. We use it to catch up on news and culture but as soon as we tap that little blue box with that generic white bird, we have lost. We have lost because within the first few scrolls, we are guaranteed to be hooked into a thread that will dictate how we should feel about an event, issue, or story. And that opinion will stay with us for God knows how long. That conversation about Black Lives Matter at the dinner table that you are “leading” — those are not your thoughts. They are @shaunking or @benshapiro or @realDonaldTrump (hopefully not). On top of that, Twitter is left-leaning, which likely means those 280 characters that you're berating your family with were from a “new site” funded by a leftist conglomerate— looking to either add fuel to your fire or push their ideologies and candidates into power for another 2 years where they will slowly pass legislation that will — guess what — keep things exactly as they are now. Next time you are on Twitter, after a few scrolls through your feed, ask yourself — have I seen something I disagree with? Have I read a concept that unsettles my belief system? Am I challenging my current understanding? *Spoiler Alert 🚨 refer to the paragraph above*
🚨 Instagram has us under a spell 🚨
How else could a selfless act — like giving to the poor, or protesting a noble cause — be made into a selfish act? Do we need to film ourselves giving to the poor? What is the purpose in that? Are we looking to inspire others to give? History tells us that prideful giving — or charity in front of a crowd — actually does the opposite. Why are we filling our stories with reposts of other people’s narratives about something so cut and dry like BLM? Did they highlight our opinion just right on the matter? Are we that lazy that we refuse to formulate how we uniquely feel? Or are we just too afraid to put ourselves out there? Are we afraid of what people will think of our beliefs? For some of us, that very well could be. For others, we may conclude that deep down we have no clue where we actually stand on the issues that plague our society. This is not a nice place to be yet we find ourselves there far too often, even on the most blatantly obvious issues like BLM. Heed this warning 🚨 the spell will wear off. Like the veil of a bride, it will eventually be removed and the congregation — our friends, family, our followers — will see who we truly are.
If you were paying attention, I mentioned that I enjoy the fuckery on social media. While your mind could have defined fuckery as anything — memes, fails, shortcomings, and other internet hilarity — what you probably did not consider was that you, yes you, were the fuckery I was referring to. I am certain you are because I am apart of it too. I am quick to let my emotional Twitter-fingers lead my opinions — even if I am wildly uninformed. My Instagram highlights the parts of my life I want you to see — even if the parts I hide could actually resonate with someone.
“Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water…”
Like water, this quote can be shaped to fit an infinite number of thoughts and statements. For me at this current juncture in our lives, I think it is most fitting for how we should use and continue to engage with the platforms we operate on. Do not let an algorithm replace your critical thought — be water. As a raindrop falls in an ocean and becomes the ocean, so too is the nature of the articles and threads we read. Let us not become what we read and watch but instead be challenged, informed, and evolved by it. Like water, we must recognize that no matter our form — whether in a glass or in a wave—we are all the same. Aiding the poor or supporting our black brothers and sisters is an unbelievable privilege that is not to be exploited for recognition or clout. Instead, let us use our platforms to tell our stories and challenge ourselves and each other. Let us put our full self out there even if we may be scared or wrong, knowing that at the end of it all — we are all apart of one, magnificently imperfect community.