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There's a lot that can be said about modern society — and much of it is great. We are, in general, a more open-minded society than we were 50 years ago. Our grocery stores are better and carry better varieties of food than they used to. And, booze can be ordered online and delivered to your door.
All these things are great. However, there is something that's not so great. Mental illness rates are going through the roof, and it's clear that we're getting increasingly agitated towards one another. People have never been more isolated than they are today. If we don't change course, we will end up breaking as a society.
Of course, there's a pretty easy solution to all this — at least in my opinion. We need to consider turning tech off for the sake of sanity, and yes, that includes TVs, social media, and computer use, too.
Studies show that people who have more screen time are more likely to experience mental illness. This doesn't surprise me in the least bit. Here's why...
We are dealing with news overload.
Did you know that people now absorb more information in a single day than we used to in years? It's true. This is especially true when it comes to news, and it's affecting us more than you'd think.
Our news industry makes money from sensational stories — and sadly, that typically means newscasters will zero in on violent crimes, riots, and other upsetting news.
Statistically, we live in one of the lowest-crime eras in human history. However, we also are the most paranoid that we've ever been. The reason why? We're bombarded with news stories that tell us that everyone's out to get us, despite the fact that this has never been further from the truth.
All the paranoia can and does affect us. We now lock our doors. We're scared of letting our kids out to play, despite us being raised that way. We are now more afraid than ever, and more suspicious than ever.
With news overload comes higher exposure to propaganda. Propaganda is making us more aggressive and brainwashed. The Brainwashing of My Father was a movie that addressed this heavily, and it's a phenomenon happening throughout the country.
If we were to just shut news outlets off more often, we'd end up being a lot more mellow, a lot happier, and a lot more trusting of our fellow man.
The internet is an echo chamber.
Does it feel like the internet exacerbates everything, and makes everyone prone to extremism? Well, that's because it does. Due to the way social media is built, it really is a "like attracts like" world on the internet. The problem with this is that it builds an echo chamber that tends to reward more extreme views over time.
Echo chambers make it very hard to cope with differing opinions, and tend to cause people to lose their sense of normalcy. When you have no baseline for what a "normal" or "typical" opinion is, you tend to go off the deep end.
What would help us relearn manners, learn how to see differences as a non-issue, and just help our society unite more would be to unplug the net, talk to neighbors, and live life the way that we used to. No echo chamber means you're more likely to see other viewpoints and recognize when your opinions may be extreme — or downright wrong.
It's not surprising that a lot of propaganda and falsehoods get spread via the net, either. Much like the constant news streams we get, echo chambers tend to warp our view of real life, often due to propaganda set out by groups that may not have our best interests in mind. So, there's that issue, too.
Social media is making us into narcissistic, anxiety-ridden, depressed messes.
People are starting to realize that social media is the ultimate game of "keeping up with the Joneses," and that's not a good thing. Study after study shows that heavy use of social media increases narcissism, depression, and shallow priorities.
Social media has this magical way of fooling people into thinking their lives suck. This happens because people tend to forget that people only show the best parts of their lives via social media — and end up comparing their real lives to other people's "editor cuts."
To make matters worse, social media has a way of making us feel alone. It doesn't connect people, because people aren't really interacting with one another in the same way they would in face-to-face chats. Psychologists have noted that people who grew up with social media are now more anxious when it comes to direct interactions than their predecessors.
When you no longer have the courage or social skills to talk to people directly, you end up with a shitty social life. These are just facts. And, when you add the naturally self-centered "interaction" social media offers, you end up feeling very, very alone.
More emphasis than ever before is being placed on looks, and psychologists have noted that this narcissistic, looks-ism behavior's also affecting the dating scene pretty heavily too.
The end result? A lot of unhappy narcissists who can't maintain healthy relationships, constantly require attention, and feel depressed because they're eating "ego kibble" rather than creating substantial ties.
I'm not saying to fully give up the net, but maybe it's time to unplug more often.
We are so wound up in technology, it's sickening. We no longer see people as people, and now trust our computers more than we do our neighbors. It didn't used to be this way — and if you ask me, we were a lot healthier back then, too.
I'm not asking that we all walk away from social media and the net forever. I am asking, though, that we use technology wisely, rather than let our use of technology destroy our sanity.
Do yourself a favor, and stop browsing the net every day. Go out for a walk, join an art class, stop hitting Instagram. There's a whole world out there that you could enjoy, and it's got better benefits than any clickbait you'd find on the net.