Since it seems that the mainstream media and Big Tech are busy profiting off of our own personal echo chambers while creating what seems like a mass psychosis, it might be a good time to unplug. I’m serious….you don’t really need all of those social media apps on your phone. They’re not your friend.
The inspiration for my tongue-in-cheek title is from an old John Prine song. When I was growing up in the late 60s my older brother was a big John Prine fan. I grew up listening to him. When I got older, I used to sing and play John Prine’s song, “Spanish Pipedream, which perfectly describes how we unplugged back in the day. Here’s the chorus:
Blow up your TV, throw away your paper
Go to the country, build you a home
Plant a little garden, eat a lot of peaches
Try an find Jesus on your own
I was reminded of this song when I recently heard Fox News’ Tucker Carlson being interviewed by Dave Rubin (you can watch the clip here). Apparently, not only does Tucker Carlson not do social media, he has no TV! In fact, he’s never watched TV his whole life. Do you know what he does when he’s not doing his show? He reads. He enjoys the outdoors. He lives his life with real people. What a novel idea!
While I haven’t blown up my TV (yet), we did move to the country from the big city. More importantly, I did find Jesus! And besides finding Jesus, I can honestly say that moving away from Chicago 25 years ago was the best decision our family ever made. I’m much happier and more at peace than I ever was living both in the city and suburbs. And the best part: I can choose when I plug into what’s happening, and I can still go to the city whenever I want. But then I can unplug again, and all that social drama is another world away.
I can happily say that our small town doesn’t do drama. I have friends on the opposite end of the political spectrum from me, and we love each other and work together in the community. One reason for this is because politics never comes up. We’ve actually gotten to know each another as people. There’s no tribal “us vs. them” because we’re weren’t driven Twitter-crazy!
I have no social media apps on my phone. My life is much fuller and happier for it. My wife and I talk to each other at restaurants instead of checking our phones, and we show the same courtesy to other people we talk to. There’s nothing better than good conversation in the presence of great friends.
You may balk at my extreme measures. You can’t live without your social media apps, right? Well, I’ve already written about the addictive nature of smartphones in “Smartphones, addictions, joy, and pleasure,” and I talked about the Netflix documentary, “The Social Dilemma.” And there is help available if you want to get out of the Matrix. Just saying… 🙂
On that note, let’s talk about mass psychosis! It’s seems like our world has gone quite insane since the endless pandemic began. There’s a very good video by Academy of Ideas on how mass psychosis is created titled, “The Manufacturing of a Mass Psychosis: Can Sanity Return to an Insane World?” The video opens with the following quote that pretty much hits the societal nail on the head:
“The masses have never thirsted after truth. They turn aside from evidence that is not to their taste, preferring to deify error, if error seduce them. Whoever can supply them with illusions is easily their master; whoever attempts to destroy their illusions is always their victim.” (Gustave Le Bon – “A Study of the Popular Mind”)
In another of their videos on how social media feeds on loneliness (and lockdowns), “Social Media and The Psychology of Loneliness,” they make the following comment:
“The more we get drawn into the virtual worlds of social media, the worse we tend to feel. To account for this, it is suggested that the medium is the problem. We have become over-reliant on connecting through our devices at the expense of more traditional ways of social interaction.”
But then they make the point that the problem goes much deeper. The root seems to be that so many people have no inner sense of who they are. They are “hollow people,” according to the video. For these empty souls, social media feeds their need for affirmation and sense of self-worth. But this is not real; and worse, it feeds our narcissistic tendencies. In the virtual world, we can pretend to be someone we’re not and feed off the social validation offered by the others who participate in our virtual echo chamber.
I heard somewhere that over 90% of Americans are on Facebook and/or Twitter. This is striking when you think about the control Big Tech has over the cultural narrative.
This all reminds me of the Dr. Who episode, “Rise of the Cybermen.” In this episode, a TARDIS malfunction crash lands the Doctor and Rose on a parallel Earth, which looks to be almost identical to their own. But, apparently, everyone in this parallel earth is hooked up to the “CybusNetwork” through an earpiece or phone app (sound familiar?) Here’s a clip from this episode.
The only difference between that parallel world and ours is that everyone here is hooked up to continual feeds from Facebook, Twitter, etc. The fact that this doesn’t frighten us is quite frightening!
I will end my thoughts with some wisdom from a plaque I see whenever we go to a local diner. It simply says:
“No Wi-fi. Act like it’s 1995 and talk to each other.”