Whatever "social media" was intended to be, in the last few years it seems to have begun an inexorable decline into what it always had to become:
A 24/7, always-on, personalized fear machine.
All you have to do is look into the "black mirror" in your pocket, and you'll see what I mean.
How many scrolls, swipes, or taps does it take to find your first piece of bad news?
While writing this, I decided to run my own experiment.
I started by opening up a new browser (Firefox).
On the homepage, I'm greeted with Firefox's standard homepage settings: a search bar, as well as a list of articles they state are "Recommended by Pocket."
Pocket is a robot.
Here's what Pocket is recommending today:
- A disease you've never heard of that killed someone you didn't know in a part of a world you've never been to nor have plans to go (and, I kid you not, part of the headline is: "how worried should we be")
- An innocent grandmother gets scammed
- Something or other (that you probably have to register or pay for) to tell you if "your home is doomed"
- A sponsored ad to play a new game "Free!"
Sorry Pocket, but after browsing your recommended reading list for the last minute, I think I'm going to need a cold shower, not a free fake farm so I can ignore my real farm.
And if you're thinking "but Tom, that's curated based on what you read. You're the culprit!"
…I opened the browser with a cleared cache, VPN'd, not connected to Pocket.
If I had been connected (signed in and synced up), and if I were playing the game they wanted me to play (engaging with their content; clicking, sharing, liking, whatever), the fear bait would only get more personalized.
But here's the thing:
Even if the fear gets more personalized, it doesn't get any more real.
I'm not saying the crazy rare disease didn't strike; or that the grandmother is just a narrative hook to generate more interest; or that some homes may, in fact, be doomed…
These things might be factual…
…but even if they are, they have no impact in or on your life beyond what you allow.
As in, you have to CONSENT to letting this information into your head, and you have to CONSENT to letting it affect your aim, your attitude, your work, or your life.
But if you don't give consent…if you ignore, delete, simply opt out…all of it vanishes, as if it never existed in the first place.
On the side mirrors of my car there's text that reads:
"Objects in mirror are closer than they appear."
The purpose is to help you avoid a deadly accident by reminding you that what you see…isn't exactly what you're seeing…and to adjust your behavior accordingly.
I think every device with a screen that can access the internet should have its own label:
"Objects on screen are not real and are intentionally designed to spike your cortisol levels."
Don't get caught in the fear trap. It's not real.
What's real is right in front of you; your friends, family, and loved ones, the people you serve, and the meaningful work you do, day in and day out.
Now that you know this, how will you show up?
Tom "thoughts" Morkes
p.s. this was originally going to be 3 reasons you should be excited for 2020, with reason #1 being that life is a lot better than it looks online…but I realize I gotta establish some foundational things before I move forward. My interest this year is in taking an ecological approach to marketing and sales, and I'll be using this newsletter to put out new ideas to better codify my thinking. Who knows, it might turn into my next book. Your feedback, questions, and insights are appreciated!! p.p.s. Recently, several people have asked me to help them launch products / set up affiliate marketing campaigns / create and implement referral programs for their brands, etc. Straight up - I don't do project bids. I also don't do 'initial consult' calls. If you want my help, you can book an Accelerator Coaching time block or Lightning Session right here.
Started, finished, and shipped from high up in the Rockies | Writing time: 5 hrs | Soundtrack: silence