Putting the ‘Social’ back into Social Media

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I’ve recently started to detest having to carry my phone with me wherever I go. I’m not  sure when this started to happen. When did I go from having this amazing bit of sci-fi kit in my pocket, a tool greater than anything my ancestors ever possessed, to having some kind of lifestyle tracker, a piece of equipment designed to trace my every movement and thought and to sell that data, taken from me under the loosest possible terms of ‘consent’, only to then be sold to larger corporations who are looking to sell me stuff I don’t actually need or want through that very same device? Why on earth has my phone become this piece of equipment, actively trying to steal as much of my down time as it possibly can?

I wonder if you all get the same feeling staring at social media as I do. Generally, I’m lying in bed, first thing in the morning or last thing at night, when this wave of loathing washes over me. After looking at hundreds of pieces of unfulfilling content and in-between being bombarded by bizarre B-Grade advertising, a sort of dissociative malaise washes over me and I start to feel sick and lonely. I have to find an inner strength to put my phone down and pull myself out of this strange hypnotic state.

What the hell happened? When did social media become so damn isolating? Correct  me if I’m wrong but wasn’t the whole idea in the first place that these sites were supposed to  deepen our connection to our friends and family using the internet? Wasn’t the point to  enhance our social lives rather than pull us away from them? It seems like now all of the  mainstream social media companies are putting us into our own personal bubbles, where we see what we want to see and show what we want to show, without much of a thought about actually connecting with others. Wouldn’t it  be great if there were a social media platform that focused on bringing people and  communities together rather than just isolating us and taking our data? I’ll come to that!

It has been well documented that on college campuses alongside a rise in social media usage there has been an explosion in anxiety related disorders. According to Dr. Cal Newport in his TEDx talk bluntly named ‘Quit Social Media’, these apps are working more like slot machines than a social network. The idea being that these social media platforms are designed to stimulate you with constant tiny hits of dopamine (dopamine being the brain chemical that stimulates your pleasure responses and creates positive reinforcement networks in your cerebral cortex). To colour this like Dr. Cal, in the old days you’d have to go to a casino to use the slot machines. Your delicious gambling hit would be relegated to a certain place and time, for which you’d have to travel to and from, leaving your life behind and escaping  into a world of delicious dopamine.

With the invention of the smart-phone, it’s like having a slot machine attached to your hip 24/7. You are able to turn to your phone for dopamine hits as many times a day as you like and what this does to your brain is two-fold. Sure you get an instant ‘light burst of happy’ from the videos or messaging, but it comes at a cost. Your brain is not used to that kind of instant and so your brain is constantly on alert awaiting that next instant hit of dopamine.

This is not a good thing. Not at all. Not one jot!

This is essentially what causes a background hum of anxiety to start to seep into your life and the more you use social media the louder the hum and the more you use social media to get that dopamine fix to combat it. But this is a never ending cycle in respect of which you will never be satisfied. This never ending loop causes a bubble to form, obviously not a physical bubble, not even a metaphysical or conceptual bubble, but a feedback bubble! A bubble that social media companies can then use to manipulate you into making purchases. Before you know it, you’ve got four kinds of weighted blankets and a Family Guy themed alarm clock that runs on lithium batteries and wakes you up every morning with Peter Griffin singing ‘The Bird is the Word’!

Believe me, it’s grim.

But I believe there is a silver lining to all this. It’s found in the individual. It’s found in the quiet unspoken resilience of the common man. The everyday stoicism that turns the ordinary into the profound.

You see, on the whole, I just don’t think we’re as dumb as these companies like to think  we are. We’re not that gullible. We don’t enjoy being trapped in data analytic algorithms, or living with a low hum of anxiety permitting our consciousness. It’s something we want, is it? And if these companies have promised us deeper social connections but instead given us socially crippling anxiety disorders, we should feel short changed. In the end, we want to put down our phones, get out of  bed and engage in meaningful social activities.  Every day can be fundamentally more rewarding than anything our phones can show us.

So now imagine a social media platform whose goal, instead of being to mine our neurosis for data sets, actually focuses on bringing us closer together as people, building friendships, enhancing communities and bettering all aspects of our lives? This is exactly what we are trying to create at Sense Social. We want to make the world a friendlier place. We have developed a free platform which has intuitive design features to make it easy for you to create and engage in social activities with people you know and like-minded people you have never met.

We want to help you to meet people who are like you. People who have shared interests, passions and a similar sense of humour. Our ambition is to create an essential tool for socially active people and for people who want to become socially active.

We want to revolutionise the way people use social media and ultimately put the Social back into social media. We would like you to join us on this journey, because we believe we can help you attain the joy, peace and laughter you deserve.

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