The most pro-social social media use is to not use it. But as always, there's 'bad' in the 'good' and 'good' in the 'bad.'
There wouldn't be a day without a night, hot without cold and so on.
I've barely used Facebook. I've never had a Twitter (or whatever it's called these days) account. I'm way too old for Snapchat. And I've stayed the hell away from TikTok. Instagram is terrible for my mental health, and my grand plan is to delete my account by the end of this year.
The one social media that I use (and abuse) is YouTube.
I can thank YT for learning how to best fold fitted sheets, how to cook the yummy delicious broccoli/tofu asian stir fry that's now become a staple in our home. I've learned things about gardening and how to change the butane gas canister that our stove runs on.
I regularly do core and HIIT workouts via YouTube. And I've found an amazing live streamed weekly meditation. I've enjoyed many nice DJ sets via YT, and laughed at old clips from MTV's Beavis and Butthead, and some Swedish 1980's TV.
Giant chunks of my precious time have been hijacked by YT. I've tumbled down countless rabbit holes; winding tunnels of trivia, often related to semi-obscure indie bands I used to like in the nineties. If you're old enough to remember indie before it was called indie.
And those fucking psychic algorithms know me better than I know myself, they keep my eyeballs there, by presenting me with one irresistible clip after another. Pavement playing at Glastonbury in 1998! A rare interview with the badass singer of Daisy Chainsaw. A brief history of shoegaze. Whatever happened to Mazzy Star. Or Mikki and Emma from Lush.
YouTube doesn't trigger me in the way that instagram does. It doesn't make me feel like a loser, or at least not in the sense of 'everyone's having so much fun and I'm not invited.' It doesn't make me feel that everyone's so doing so much better. It doesn't creep down into my brainstem and trigger the caveman status-seeking me.
But it still makes me feel like a loser. Because of my lack of self-control and will power. But honestly, none of us stand a chance!
It's most definitely a time thief, and a concentration destroyer like all other (anti) social media.
I absolutely need to further limit my time spent there. I also hate that also YouTube turned to the short video format that made TikTok a giant cash cow. Fortunately, it's possible to disable those.
There's one YT channel thought, that I've been following for a few years now, with incredibly pro-social content.
Soft White Underbelly is a channel by photographer Mark Laita. He started interviewing people on Skid Row, a rough neighborhood in downtown Los Angeles, a sort of open air drugmarket/tent city, filled with tragedy, violence, prostitution and gangs. It's a place where the US opioid epidemic plays out in the open.
After watching a handful of videos it becomes clear that trauma and/or mental illness is at the core of EVERY single homeless drug addict you might have stumbled upon. The immensity of the trauma on display is absolutely devastating! Here we clearly see the evidence of karma (in the sense of cause and effect) and original sin (as in intergenerational trauma).
We can see what racism, sexism and capitalism do the people.
Some of these 'broken' people are amazing storytellers. For many of them, drugs probably saved their lives.
It's evidence of what happens when you try to run from pain instead of facing it.
And it echoes the yogic truth that craving is at the root of our suffering.
Of course, it serves up loads of cautionary tales about where addiction can take you. And the social media apps are designed to be just as addictive as opiates.
These days Mark has widened his scope and is now interviewing all kinds of people. It's a really beautiful and worthy project.
But now I'm going to install Freedom. Because I do need to spend less time online in general.