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How We Build Healthier Online Communities

Photo by Tracy Le Blanc from Pexels

If, like me, you watched The Social Dilemma on Netflix and are considering moving to Keiyo and giving up all digital communication, this one’s for you.

So here’s what we know:

  1. Social media is addictive
  2. The social internet will soon be inextricably woven into the fabric of daily life
  3. It is ridiculously easy to fall into toxic rabbit holes on the internet
  4. Healthy engagement with the social internet is still possible

Let’s break it down now.

Social media is addictive

Likes, retweets, and replies trigger a response in your brain – the same response you get when you consume sugar, chocolate, get a little lovin’, or do cocaine. The levels vary but you get the picture. Facebook has hacked your brain and that is why you cannot stop scrolling. They did not really mean to get you hooked (or so they say) but they wanted your attention. Every minute you spend on a social media platform is worth real money. It is a quantifiable resource and so the number one priority for all the social media networks is figuring how to get their users to spend more time there. Some of the best minds of our generation are employed in the work of keeping you scrolling.

The social internet will soon be inextricably woven into the fabric of daily life 

When was the last time you printed a photo and hung it up on a real wall?

Ok.

When was the last time you took a nice photo of yourself and posted it on social media?

This is just one of those things we are going to accept. Like masks and gengetone.

It is ridiculously easy to fall into toxic rabbit holes on the internet

Have you ever glimpsed a corner of the internet that you never want to see again? Or opened a link and immediately blocked the person that sent it to you after? Well, more often than not, the algorithms that run the internet take note of that. And the next time you get back on, they might suggest a similar page or post to you. And if you are, say, an angry young man who thinks the world owes him something… that path may lead directly to unspeakable violence. The internet has done wonderful things but it has also given terrible movements a platform. A few curious clicks could eventually turn a loved one into a hateful and paranoid stranger.

Healthy engagement with the social internet is still possible

If all you want to do is learn new knitting patterns and follow Mamake Bobo’s life on social media, you can. There are thousands of well-administrated pages on the internet where anti-vaxxers cannot find you. You can always follow independent blogs that you love and sign up for alerts that come directly to your email. Setting healthy limits and boundaries is good too. Remember that there are people who spend billions trying to keep you on social media and so if you do spend a little or a lot more time on it than you should, it is not entirely your fault.

And lastly, you can be the example. The internet would be a much safer place if we all led with kindness and consideration. Once you understand that you know nothing about the person on the other side of the keyboard, walking away is much easier.

Joy Matiri

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