Mobile phones have brought with them an age of endlessly scrolling through piles of algorithm baiting videos, comments, threads, photos. A frenzied flow of content desperately trying to win the user’s attention for more than a split second. Algorithms silently working overtime to satisfy the user’s inclinations and to deliver the coveted dopamine hit. We live in a world where anyone can connect to anyone regardless of location, but with hundreds of apps fighting for our time is this the gift we often consider it to be?


On the surface social media apps are free platforms that you can use to find other people’s ideas and share your own. However, an unnerving truth that is imperative to grasp is that if you are not a customer you are most likely the product. These apps devote hundreds of hours into constructing the best possible way to keep you on the platform for as much time as possible. For a simple reason, the longer you are on the app the longer they can analyse your habits; bombard you with advertisements; fine-tune the algorithms to entice you further. To put it plainly, the more time you take scrolling on social media, the more money these apps make from you. To a social media company you are nothing more than a profile, a profile that is built up as you spend longer and longer on the app. It will work out your hobbies, interests even political leanings and it will use all of this information to target you with the most enticing advertisements for you that they possibly can.


Another consequence of social media's dystopian-like tracking, is a perpetuation of confirmation bias. These apps know that people like to feel validated, after all we naturally surround ourselves with like-minded people in our everyday lives and social media only makes it all the more easier to build this bubble of those who think the same; who hold the same views; who support the same political party. This one sided exposure to those who agree with us breeds a culture of ignorance and intolerance. This culture is further evident when a post falls into your feed of someone who holds views, of which, you vehemently disagree. Many are inclined to make sharp snap-backs explaining why their opinion on the matter is far superior and from this an argument between two extremes can spark causing a spiral of outrage. This happens due to no accident, but instead by the ability that social media has to show us just the right amount posts that we agree so that when one that conflicts with our views we are primed and ready with a pseudo-sense of superiority from the sea of confirmation that is normally shown. This increases the time a user spends on the app therefore increasing the money that can be made from each user.


A further product of social media is a feeling of inadequacy and boredom. It may seem like the world around you is filled with people living perfect lives filled with fun activities but it is crucial to remember that, generally, what is posted on social media is just the “best bits”. Carefully selected snippets of life that are there to paint a picture of the person they want to appear to be. It is critical to keep in mind that all it takes is a smile to mask how someone is really feeling. Social media is often devoid of genuine posts as a shallow connection is made on fickle foundation, leaving people feeling desperate to enhance their lives in any way to show the world how much fun they are having. This can be extremely damaging as users feel pressured to make their feed the most appealing or exciting. They feel forced to be up to date with the newest trends and it can promote an unhealthy lifestyle where it becomes near impossible to live in the moment and instead the default is to be lost in a digital world.


Currently, it is easy to feel drowned in social media, with it’s retention seeking algorithms and attention seeking users so if you feel as if you are struggling to stay afloat, take a break. It’s ok to take a step back from social media. Don’t use it for a day, a week or longer especially if it is causing stress. Be wary of your screen time and try to live in the present of your own life and not the past of someone else's.