New Horizons

When the Labour Party imploded before Christmas, a lot more people should have been surprised. I can remember the rhetoric on Social media when Corbyn was elected leader, that nobody in their right mind would ever trust him as Prime Minister. Of course, that’s no help now, in the darkest days of the Planet, and what is required is someone who can make ordinary people feel as if they truly do have a voice in the void.

If the future entailed voting on someone based solely on the strength of one video, this is pretty compelling stuff. However, as is about to become news once again, The Truth is no longer as black and white as was the case back when there were only four TV channels. Archive footage is irrelevant when placed beside memes and infobursts. Our future is ignoring the memories of old people, because they voted for Brexit.

What matters more than testimonial videos is what That Bloke on Facebook posted an hour ago. Although I may have abandoned the platform some time ago, my husband still sits and watches comedy videos and uses it for Hockey and Cycling groups. I’m fairly confident he’s not being manipulated in any way by fake news, but until he feels physically compelled to leave? Houston, we have a FUCKING HUGE PROBLEM.

That’s not the only issue: no other service is as badly regulated, is as casually used and abused, or easily accessible. Businesses demand employees use it, companies won’t promote themselves anywhere else. It plays on the most basic human need for connection, exploits it mercilessly, and then uses those connections TO SELL SHIT TO YOU. Most people don’t even care, but they won’t be the first to leave.

It is humanity’s inherent laziness that allows this platform to thrive.

I’m still using Instagram, it should be stated for the record, 100% in a promotional capacity. That’s only happening because it is free. However, there was a period before the writing career took precedence that Facebook was considered as a platform. I looked at ads. It scared the life out of me: how much money was needed, where the reach went, how the company pretty much demanded total immersion before anything became worthwhile… and I found myself, not for the first time, considering addiction.

This year is the one I’ve made a conscious decision to stop using Social media as a crutch. Online time is strictly limited on my phone. As this is the last day of the school holidays the tablet by the bed will be removed and left down here so there’s none of that either before sleep or when I wake up. The differences it’s making not only to sleep time but mental awareness is already obvious. Yes, you are addicted to Social media.

Addiction however is acceptable when everybody else is too.

None of this is relevant to anyone else, of course, because they aren’t addicted. It’s just a place to hang out with mates, or watch funny shit your cousin posted. Except there is increasing proof that repeated exposure to bad shit can alter good people. It’s how teens get radicalised, adults become utter morons and Chinese manufacturers convince you that purchasing their cheap generic knockoff is a better bet.

Once you can see through the lies, life becomes easier to rationalise, but no less painful to navigate, because unless EVERYBODY ELSE stops being dependant on the platforms, nothing changes… and eventually, unless we all regress back to a pre-electricity dependant state, someone else will come along and do the exact same thing. The only way life changes now is if EVERYTHING changes, and the chances of that right now seem incredibly slim indeed.

Other people can tell you the horror stories. I can recommend podcasts which explain how Facebook tries to be good, but at a terrible cost. There’s enough conspiracy theories out there to last a thousand lifetimes. The reality is simpler, easier to rationalise. You get one life, it remains finite and right now may not necessarily depend on how long you survive. The planet, for an increasing number of us, may burn before we do.

If that’s the case, this is the moment to stop staring at a screen for whatever reason, and to get out and do some good. Instead of filling social media with complaints and frustrations, this is when we get out there and do some good. Stop looking at other people’s lives and wishing yours was better. Make the change. There’s no statute of limitations on New Year’s Resolutions. Today is a great day to start fresh.

Any day can be the start of something better.