The Global Obsession of Social Media: How to Turn Back

by Christian Kurmann

Undoubtedly when social media was created, their founders knew quite consciously what their integration would means to global society.

 

 

But they did it anyway.

Today we know there is a tremendous lack of harmonious culture and a lack of bonding between people worldwide, especially among those who have become obsessed with social media; they are truly missing out on ‘life’. We have a situation in which most youngsters between 10-18 are obsessed with social media, so much so that multimedia is being cultivated as the new way of sharing knowledge with young children in many European schools. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 35% of the entire European workforce today suffers from severe stress. The new ‘rules’ are set up for not being patient anymore, as most consumers have been psychologically exploited and profoundly manipulated as intensively as possible. And moreover, what is the economic loss due to stressed-related diseases? Appalling - with an increasing trajectory for things to get much, much worse:

 
 

USA

 

42 billion USD in stress costs
150 billion USD in stress-related health costs

300 billion USD in enterprise costs due to stress

 

 

European Union
UK
Denmark
Sweden
Switzerland

20 billion Euro in stress costs
180 million Euro in stress costs
177 million Euro in stress costs
125 million Euro in stress costs
6.6 billion Euro in stress costs

 

 

All of them – Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, B-chat, Twitter, WhatsApp, Snap Chat – have demonstrated how quickly it is possible to exploit the human being, enticing the entire global society to crave for more. Facebook researchers, for example, acknowledged in a recent study, that their own product does not necessarily make their users' lives better, but in fact much worse: Facebook junkies become isolated, unhappy, lonely, even depressed. The study was not about the psychological consequences of online bullying, fake news waves or toxic echo chambers. Rather, Facebook researchers were concerned about people who ‘misuse’ the network, meaning those who only consume but contribute nothing. This refers to those who do not publish anything, those who write no comments, nor distribute hearts.

Further, criminals use the world's largest social network in a way that baffles even its founders. This is possible because Facebook denies any transparency. This is now taking its revenge. Interesting enough, the corporate responsibility that coincided with its success does not do justice to the many start-up companies in Silicon Valley.

Most ignore the seriousness of today’s consequences of the negativity that results, first because the way social media was defined, it was not expected to be like that, and secondly, because people are strongly convinced that ‘craving for more’ is a good thing, until such a time as now when this has gotten out of hand. That is why it is almost impossible for young people to ignore social media: they are obsessed with it and addicted to it. People erroneously believe that ‘social media’ is just that – social – that it creates a new way of bonding. This, of course, is horrendously superficial, though we only admit to that when it is already far too late.

What we fail to understand is that social media is a tool, a tool which we choose with our own free will, but one that unfortunately puts us on ‘mental steroids’. In fact, social media is not the enemy, the enemy is the reflection of our own free will so desirous of acknowledgement and recognition. Now, all of a sudden, simply because it is possible through social media, we want to be acknowledged and recognised and appreciated by the entire global society; many people go to extreme lengths to be liked. We are craving this because we no longer get what we need from the first places we should – our parents, friends, siblings and partners.

We must seriously ask ourselves this: is growth through social media resulting in good, in helping to better understand, and solve, tomorrow’s problems?  

That short-term inundation of too much information is jeopardizing our human instincts like our intuition, our empathy, our attitudes, our aptitude, and our affection and joy.

Today we see that the long-term effects of social media are revolting. Our desirous cravings lead to greed, and we have become willing to deprive ourselves of privacy and intimacy, which is completely self-destructive. We believe that global recognition makes us proud, but we are humiliating ourselves and our loved ones. We become audacious, impatient, selfish and obsessive. We want to protect our supposed notoriety and hide our arrogance and stubborn refusal to understand anything other than what we are socially spoon-fed.

Our brain is totally overcharged and literally becoming numb, as we are mentally manipulated for growth and for craving more. These are the current conditions that many people, including many leaders unfortunately, are challenged with. This seeps into their foundation for making decisions. In other words, today’s social media has started to erode the fabric of global society. Today we live in a world where we use money to amplify and manipulate news, that is, to spread false truth and gain false popularity and dupe people into believing we are popular, though in fact we are not nearly as popular as we wish to believe, even though our ‘news’ spreads to 100s of millions of social media users around the globe.

What does this mean? Very quickly people can post a false opinion that was sparked out of someone else’s experiences that might be adequate or merely par, which suddenly ‘goes global’ and countless people become ‘followers’. This could, however, be truly dangerous, jeopardising the ‘real things’ such as origin and authenticity in regard to knowledge, health, education and political opinion, for example. More and more people get too irritated to believe what truly is, becoming over-critical of the ‘real truth’. Way too many people have already forfeited their opinions, their right to unique opinions, becoming brainless followers. At the end of the day we must investigate how it is possible to live, more than merely exist, but to really ‘live’, under such circumstances.  Not surprisingly, people go to great lengths to defend their personal esteem and social self-esteem because we aim to bond to a certain circle that elevates our prestige and recognition. But is our circle the right circle of people who are genuine?

Surely Mr. Zuckerberg (Facebook), Mr. Sydrom (Instagram) Mr. Karim, Mr. Chen and Mr. Huerly (YouTube) Mr. El Koussa (B-Chat), Mr. Dorsey (Twitter) and Mr. Spiegel (Snap Chat) all knew precisely what these systems do to people and to the global society, exploiting people’s  natural tendencies of dependency and obsession, desire for contact, for feedback, for believing we are secure and safe and recognised and acknowledged – so that we can continue on craving for more. Chemically speaking, this releases dopamine in the brain, altering the level at which we feel safe, secure, inspired, serene – but failing to feel calm and at ease. We operate with an obsession to be fed constantly; otherwise, we think, life won’t work anymore.

The ‘real’ – natural interaction, presence, attentiveness and awareness between people – is severely undermined.  Hence it is not surprising that the vast majority of people are lacking in clarity, lacking in courage, lacking in consciousness and lacking in compassion. At this stage, I doubt whether all the founders of today’s most powerful social media ever realised the shallowness of what they are protecting, because social media has irrevocably damaged relationships between people, nations, organisations, companies and industries where so many are now obsessed with comparison, expectations, analysis and high ambitions that separate – rather than unify – social systems and stir conflicts within systems.

In other words, every time consumers ‘interact’, even ‘artificially’ on social media, they receive a ‘dopamine injection’ that increases over time so that they are kept following and stay dependent. In such a way, vulnerability is exploited in human psychology. We have reached a point where all these forms of social media are dismantling global societies and their traditions, rituals, meanings, purpose, sense, cooperation, and the ‘true level of belonging’.  

 

And what are the shocking results?

  • Decision-making power is being reduced, increasing the rate of employee absenteeism;

  • Lack of decision-making latitude and recognition increases the risk of cardiovascular disease;

  • Low workplace support increases the rate of absenteeism;

  • Abusive supervision is associated with an increase in absenteeism;

  • High presence of interpersonal conflict within a work team is associated with a reduction in performance;

  • Management-subordinate relationships the most commonly reported cause of stress.

 

As leaders of the 21st century, we need to question the narratives of short-term maximisation when it comes to leadership ignoring the fact that growth, craving for more and higher and further, does not helps us to comprehend what today’s priorities really are and how we can solve issues. In other words, we need to generate global awareness. Because if we keep feeding these social media beats – it will ultimately destroy us. But if we all push back on social media, resist the allure, we have a chance to get back to where we were in the first place: ethical, humble, fair and integral leaders. We have come to a point in time where people need to break away hard, severing all ties, from most social media. There is no other way because the short-term dopamine strategy based on ‘fake feedback’ won’t work on the long run: it continues to destroy who we are and how we should enjoy interacting naturally.

Instead we must cultivate leadership and culture based on trust, respect, originality, truth and good: this is the major 21st century leadership and culture mission. We are wallowing in a truly bad state of affairs, because our reliance on social media is eroding the core foundation of human ethics: people’s behaviour, attitude, aptitude, manners, rituals, nature, presence, expression and speech between each other.

So how shall we tackle this monstrous global mission? By feeling, safe, secure, serene, calm and at ease, practicing ‘stillness’ several times a day, and embedding this practice into organisations and social systems like families, schools, and work and social environments.

India is one of the forerunners of ‘stillness’, standardising mediation and yoga as compulsory at every school. This means 444 million children, 28,1 % of India’s entire population, meditate and practice yoga twice a day. What do you think this does for India’s next generation? Immense good. What would the outcome be of the same if were applied into organisations? How much would psychosocial sick leave decrease? How many fewer sick and leave days would employees take? How much would insurance costs decrease per employee each year?

Practicing ‘stillness’ is a choice we cannot afford to ignore, not if we wish to be more resistant, but also more human, and to feel more natural and human again.

 

 
Edvinas Grisinas