We’ve all read how Facebook, Twitter, and other social media are messing up elections. Lies spread faster than accurate information. Nations like Russia and people looking to troll can create mayhem. Algorithms promote conspiracies. People feel informed when they aren’t. Communities polarize. You know the results.
The companies behind each platform give lip service to reducing the trends but the trends are profitable for them so they act half-heartedly. They don’t look for practical, effective solutions. They suggest things like banning political ads just before the election.
I thought of a practical, effective solution. You’ll see why they wouldn’t think of it. You’ll also see how effective it is.
My simple, effective, practical solution: shut down all social media sites for a period before an election. I’d say about a year. No Facebook, Twitter, and so on.
You may first think but how will I keep up with my friends and family? I guarantee you’ll find yourself closer to those you want to with social media closed. You’ll become more aware of the news. Your life will improve by your own measures, though you may have to sweat through a detoxification period.
Meanwhile, you won’t suffer the polarization, conspiracies, lies, hyped-up feelings of anger and outrage, and all the other problems of social media. You’ll probably go outside more.
If you haven’t experienced life without social media for a while, you’re in for a surprising treat. Social media feels great in the moment, as addictions do, but overall undermines a meaningful, purposeful life.
One exception: since people probably rely on social media for some connections they’d prefer to keep, I could see keeping one function for social media sites. We could keep a functionality that the sites could send one email at a time to people in your address book. That way you can keep in touch with everyone you want to, just with emails.
The crazy thing is that as much as you’d expect Facebook and peers to oppose such a plan that risks them losing all their revenue, I bet they’d endorse it. They know how addicted people are that no matter how long they went off-line and no matter how much people found they preferred life based on meaning and purpose instead of craving, most couldn’t stop themselves from rejoining when they could.
In the meantime, you can stop using them anyway any time you want and you’ll get the benefits right away.
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