It is becoming increasingly difficult to resist the urge to check my social platforms all throughout the day — every damn day.
I’ve recently decided to take a step back from using it as much, but I still use it frequently. It can serve as a trigger for my anxiety, and I’m now taking my mental health more seriously than ever. I’ve even debated deleting my accounts altogether, but as a world-traveler and aspiring writer and photographer, it may not be the best decision to quit cold turkey.
There is power in social media. It is evident, measurable, and can be used to great advantages. However, we all know the darkest parts of humanity can rear at any time through your news feed. Every day there are new cases of bullying, misinformation, belittlement, and downright bullshit.
I, like so many others, am trying to find a healthy balance as a social media consumer. In doing so, I have given thought to the seven deadly sins and the part they play in the wicked world wide web.
How often do you find yourself scrolling aimlessly — pausing for a laugh here, a little double tap there — and then you realize you’ve been lost in this timeless space bubble for over an hour. It just doesn’t end. It’s like feasting at Thanksgiving; there is always more, and you have a hard time judging when you’ve actually had enough.
This is all fine and dandy until you think about the minutes that turn to hours, and how many hours in a week you spend trolling the Internet. Let’s be honest, people are dedicating more time to thinking of captions for mediocre photos than they will spend picking a name for their child. Kidding. Or am I?
Let’s break this down a bit further. According to SocialMediaToday, the average person will spend 116 minutes on social media daily. Users spend on the following amounts of time on each platform:
This means you could spend 5+ years of your lifetime on social media (if you live to be an ol’ grump). Holy mother of all good things. Raise your hand if think you’ll be proud of yourself when you’re on your deathbed saying, “I am so happy I spent all that time watching videos of cats and arguing over who won the election than planting flowers, watching my kids play ball, or traveling the world”. Anyone?
The leading social media platforms of the world were founded in one of the leading capitalist countries in the world, so it should come as no surprise that you can purchase everything short of a spaceship engine from your favorite social platform.
Not only can you see and yearn for every Tom, Dick, and Harry’s new car, phone, and camera, you can buy all of these things with the tap of a finger with PayPal or your favorite credit card. Want a new outfit? Look at the right-hand side of Facebook on your desktop — or just wait to scroll over an ad from one of your favorite brands. Looking for good deals on anything and everything? Search for sponsored YouTube or Instagram influencers and use their codes to get an X% discount!
This is the new way of life. Even when we are blessed beyond measure and living easier lives than have ever been lived before, we still find an infinite amount of people with things we want more than our own.
Speaking of wanting things more than you want your own, can we talk about the soft (and occasionally hard) porn that is every social platform? Y’all, I get it. So you went to the beach? You were in a bikini. Duh. Running got you sweating like a dog? Take your shirt off and run in a sports bra. It’s normal and natural and no one has the right to sexualize that. However, if you want to show off your “hard work in the gym” or sessy boobies that are glistening from sweat in the summer sun, you need to understand that people are going to look, and not often out of respect for your hard work. It’s human nature.
Lady babes, I get it. It’s your body and you work damn hard for it. Kudos. You do what you want with it, but try to keep this in mind: It’s not just your crush looking at those photos or the girl you have some inexplicable virtual rivalry with. Nope. It’s also your friend’s dad, your dad’s friends, your old (or current) teacher, your married boss, your youth pastor, and countless strangers you will never meet who save your photos to their phones and computers (aka spank banks).
You can say that’s not your problem. I mean, they should be honest and decent people, right? It’s not your fault if someone’s spouse is lusting after you, right? However, if you dangle candy in front of a baby, it will reach for it. If you hand a needle to a junkie, do you expect them to turn away with ease?
At the end of the day, humans are fancy animals, and there is a certain level of understanding and respect that you should have not only for yourself, but for people that deal with sex addictions day in and day out — not to mention their loved ones at home.
For the record, this issue affects all genders and sexualities.
If ever there was a time for your fellow man to wave his shiny new toys in front of your face, it is now. You don’t just have to look across the street at your neighbor’s new Jeep, you now have to see photos of it on Instagram, a video of him driving away in it on Facebook, and listen to him sing obnoxiously with various animal facial filters on Snapchat in his new ride. Meanwhile, you’re driving your sister’s hand-me-down purple Dodge Neon that should be getting 24 miles to the gallon but is choking out 17 on the highway and making some God forsaken noise that resembles your grandfather’s smoker’s cough every time you take off at a stoplight.
Maybe the constant stream of new cars on your feed isn’t what’s bothering you most. Perhaps it’s the 40 pounds of fat your buddy from high school lost that you seem to have found? Or maybe it’s the raise your cousin got at work, the extra degree your classmates obtained, or the sexpot brunette that your best friend just proposed to (and oh my Lordt, she even has a brain!).
There will always be something that others have that we find ourselves coveting. It’s up to us take a break from the highlight reels to remind ourselves of the beauty in our own lives.
Despite the fact that it is now common practice for people to be active on social media while they’re at the gym or out for a jog, it is mostly used when in a sedentary position. It is very difficult to fully experience any physical activity whilst glued to your smartphone. Sure, it’s possible, but how effective will your half-assed effort really be? I mean, it’s kind of silly to sit on a leg press machine while creeping on your ex’s profile. You won’t be fully locked in, pulling yourself down tight to the seat, or contracting your core to lift an appropriate amount of weight. You will just be flailing your legs up and down like the ass hat you are.
Plus, if you’re spending an abundance of time on social, odds are you’re avoiding working on your spiritual life. It is becoming increasingly easy to float through days without giving much critical thought to anything of substance, especially your whole self. If you’re incessantly checking in on the lives of others, how often are you truly reflecting on your own? It’s amazing what going on a walk without technology, going for a drive without listening to the radio, or hitting up a yoga class can do for you mentally.
Get off your phone, get out of the house, smell a freaking flower and pick up a weight. Do whatever you have to do to avoid sitting and scrolling through everyone else’s lives while they live their own. Living vicariously isn’t living.
If there is anything the far lefts and rights can understand or agree upon, it’s the fiery anger that has spread through their chests over something they read in the socialsphere — the most obvious of which is politics. I don’t necessarily know whether this is the worst time the human race has ever experienced, but I do know that all of the evil in the world is being exposed at a much faster rate than we can comprehend or keep up with. Trying to stay updated with accurate information about anything is like trying to drink from a firehose.
To top off the crazy that is the Internet (and trolls lurking within it), we now have the ability to react to situations we know little to nothing about. The situations themselves are not only infuriating, but the bullshit comments people type up in response to something within seconds of it being published can make your head spin.
We give ourselves no time to adequately respond to things that piss us off online, and we pay the price for it. Whether it’s the shame game our parents will play, the new level of awkward we will feel at family reunions, or the degradation of relationships with our friends and community members, our online outbursts will come back to bite us in the bums — and there will be no one to blame but ourselves.
Pride, also known as vanity, has been called “the sin from which all others arise”. It is the excessive belief in one’s own ability and virtues.
The newest wave of self-helpers, YouTube hustlers, and Insta-famous social influencers have raised the socially acceptable bar of vanity so high, Jack couldn’t reach it from the top of the beanstalk. There is a fine line between self-love and self-obsession; I’m not sure how many people can actually see it. I won’t even get into the completely skewed visions of self-actualization.
I was raised to take pride in myself, and that pride led to confidence which has literally led me around the world. However, for every pat I got on the back I received, I was fed a spoonful of humility. My parents used to tease that they had to keep me at Earth level, and they will never know how grateful I am for that. That doesn’t mean I don’t have my prideful moments — I probably have too many — but life has a funny way of humbling you every step of the way.
Yes, you should take pride in yourself, but recognize that none of us get anywhere without help. Whether you believe it’s the work of God, the universe, the inexplicable/undiscovered power of science, your parents, grandparents, friends, teachers, or mentors, no one rises alone. Always give credit where credit is due, and show humility before humility shows you.
So, the question is this: How do we counteract the seven deadly sins of social media?
We abstain from glutinous scrolling. If you find yourself spending 2+ hours a day on social media for personal entertainment, perhaps you should limit yourself. There are great apps like Moment or BreakFree that aim to help you break your smartphone addiction and create a more balanced lifestyle.
We practice liberality against greed. Give more than you receive. Donate to that nonprofit that always sends you updates and requests or toss a few bucks in a worthy Go Fund Me account.
We resist lust with respect — for ourselves and others. If you can’t look at someone’s profile without sexualizing them or fantasizing about someone outside of your relationship, unfollow them. Practice self-control. If that means deleting your accounts because you can’t do as such, it’s probably for the best.
We show kindness to those we envy. When you feel envious of your peers, show them support instead of ignoring them or exploiting their flaws. Tearing someone down won’t lift you up, and building others up won’t make you weak.
We use diligence to fight sloth. The easiest thing we can do is log on and consume endless (and essentially useless) information for hours on end. We don’t have to put forth any effort past the scroll of a thumb to find entertainment. It is up to us as individuals to demand more from ourselves and then put it into practice.
We practice patience when we feel angry. When we willingly enter spaces that we know will anger us, we must find the self-control necessary to either walk away or come up with a valid argument to be heard — not written off. The only way to see change is to be the change.
We embrace humility over pride. Anyone can boast about their accomplishments, but not everyone will own their mistakes or shortcomings.
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Kalu Ndukwe Kalu
The things you do for yourself are gone when you are gone, but the things you do for others remain as your legacy.