Is Social Media more damaging than Porn? – Let kids be kids

Is Social Media more damaging than Porn? – Let kids be kids

In this next post on the topic of social media and it’s effects on society I want to focus on the use of social media by those under the age of 18.

My reasoning for this series of posts is because I do believe that with regards to children, social media can be as least as damaging if not more damaging than porn.  From my perspective it sets unrealistic expectations on life,  and leaves people craving an online fix or approval above actual human interaction.

In a way I was quite fortunate in that social media didn’t become a part of my life until I was 20 years old. So preteen/teenage peer pressure for me was a small group of friends asking you to drink a beer, or a crush looking to meet up for a romantic encounter, and usually this pressure could only be conveyed face to face, or over a 1 to 1 text message.

However these days, a lot of kids are feeling the burden of being a social media star.  They are “friends” with their whole school, and suffer with constant anxiety as they think of ways to get their next set of “Likes” or “Retweets”.  Without this constant validation they do not feel like a valued and worthy part of the collective, especially when it has never been easier to statistically analyze your popularity within your peer group.  “Sure Kathy from Science class may have got 162 likes on a picture of her cat”, but what kids (and even adults) don’t see is that Kathy is at home eating cat food for dinner, because her family are in crisis.  All we care about at that moment in time is the number of likes she got that day, and how much more popular she is than us.

Even worse than becoming click-bait monkeys looking for likes and retweets, is the collective and invasive peer pressure children with access to social media accounts have to suffer. Before the advent of social media, if a group of friends invited you to the park, you could decline and walk away. But these days you cannot walk away, the constant buzzing of your phone reminding you that they are either talking about you, or insulting you for rejecting their request.  Once you’re safely home from rejecting their request they can still get to you through technology even if you’re locked safely away in your room.

Because so many children have easy and free access to social media and pornography, and because group peer pressure is 24/7, it is becoming increasingly hard for children and young adults to separate what serves them as a normal functioning member of society and what is self-loathing group think approval. This is why I believe we are seeing such a sharp rise in children falling victim to revenge porn.  Never has access to pornography been so easy and never has group peer pressure been so prevalent and intense. If everyone else is claiming they are sexting each other, and everyone else is telling you that’s what they are doing, and you are getting pressured via messages on your phone to do it while sat at the dinner table with your family, when you’re alone in your bedroom, and when you’re walking home from school.  Well eventually it’ll become the expected norm to send a school mate an explicit photo of yourself, without considering the long-term impact or consequences.

This is why I think we need to seriously consider restricting some of the features and applications available to those under 18, or at the very least start engaging them on the differences between real life and the pressure filled online world of sudo friendships.  We need to let them learn how to build meaningful friendships where you actually care about the person behind the avatar and how they are feeling on a daily basis. Let them learn that it is more important to have 1 or 2 close friends who will look after your cat when you’re sick, as opposed to only having “friends” who will like pictures of your cat, but cannot be found when called upon for help. Let them learn that what they see online is only what people have allowed them to see, which is usually only the best bits of ones existance. Let them understand suffering, humility and sorrow, and how to handle their negative emotions without hiding behind the quick fix of a few likes from a motivational quote they retweeted.

Just let them be kids!


Is Social Media more damaging than Porn? – An observation

Is Social Media more damaging than Porn? – An observation

Social media is a wonderful invention, it allows us to keep up to date with family and friends from around the world, giving us the opportunity to instantly share a photo or thought with our nearest and dearest instead of waiting months/years for a face to face opportunity to engage them.

It’s opened us up to more information then we could ever imagine, be it awareness of a social event happening in a neighbouring town, finding a local group who partake in a hobby of yours, or keeping up to date with decisions being made by a local government agency.  Social media has become a one stop shop for information.

However scratch a way at the surface and I believe that social media may be causing a number of problems within our society.  As a collective we don’t think twice about starting a witch hunt against somebody who offers a differing view on a sensitive subject.  As individuals, we drive speeding metal killing machines while our eyes our glued to our Facebook feeds, for fear of missing out on the opportunity to like a friends baby photo. Amongst friends and followers we feel a responsibility to identify another photo opportunity or “check in” to show just how awesome our life is.

All of these issues are stripping away at our empathetic sides, mentally weakening ourselves, and turning us into click bait machines looking for a reason for somebody to “like” or “retweet” us, even if at the expense of another person. So over the next week or two i’m going to dive deeper into these areas, where I think social media is doing us more harm than good, and offer my thoughts on what we can do to identify and overcome these issues.

The Burden of Inaction – Summary

The Burden of Inaction – Summary

To summarise my thoughts on overcoming the burden of inaction, from my recent set of articles listed below:

The Burden of Inaction – An Observation

The Burden of Inaction – A negative example

The Burden of Inaction – A positive example

1.Take action

Find 2 or 3 of the easiest tasks you know you should be completing on a regular basis and make them your first priorities. No matter how simple, be it washing the dishes, making your bed or eating a piece of fruit.  Find those easy, reoccurring tasks and start smashing them.

2. Write it down

Stop trying to remember everything you need to do, write it down on a piece of paper or put it in your phone. Not only do you free yourself up to think and do other things, you also avoid the risk of forgetting something important, or chastising yourself as you remember to do something to late in the day, or after the event needed to occur.

3. Rinse and repeat

Like any good shampoo / habit, the way to improve is to keep doing it.  You may forget on day 2 to complete your easy quick win tasks, or may forget to add something to your list on your phone.

But after a while you’ll start developing a habit which not only makes you more productive, but also lightens the load we all place on minds every day.


The Burden of Inaction – A positive example

The Burden of Inaction – A positive example

A great example of what I mean when I write about the Burden of Inaction is from a day this week where I was working from home, and not due to start work until 8:30 am.  I got up 20 minutes earlier than I would have had I been travelling to the office, and managed to tick last nights dishes, a load of laundry, and emptying the kitchen bin from my to do list before 7:30am. This enabled me to crack on with my working day earlier than planned and with a caffeine free buzz of hitting the ground running, knowing that no matter how my work day started I had already ticked three things off my to do list.

I’ve found for an early bird such as myself, ticking one or two items no matter how small off of my to do list nice and early has a snowball affect.

For example, I frequently cycle to work, but went through a stage where I couldn’t be bothered, of course not completing this task resulted in some internal disappointment.  However I eventually got back on track once my mornings this task became the 3rd or 4th item on my to do list instead of my first.  By the time I had to decide whether to cycle to work, or take the lazy option and drive, I had already listened to a podcast, made breakfast and washed the dishes, so I was already warmed up to the idea of smashing through the next item on my to do list.

This snowball affect doesn’t just stop with the individual either, because those I share a home with are also positively affected.   Eventually somebody would have to wash those dishes or put the laundry in the washer.  So not only am I helping lighten a burden from inaction on their side, but I am also opening up free quality time to spend with them after work, as we’re not spending that time doing chores.

The Burden of Inaction – A negative example

The Burden of Inaction – A negative example

In my previous post I spoke about my observations regarding the Burden of Inaction. So now I would like to try and walk you through the actual issue as I observe it, by diving into the mindset of a person struggling through inaction.

It’s a beautiful Saturday morning (or at least it’s not raining for a change). You start the day with the brightest of intentions, you wake up and say today I’m going to:

  • Go to the gym
  • Hoover the living room
  • Put a load of laundry on
  • Go to the supermarket and buy groceries
  • Call the optician I was meant to visit 2 months ago
  • Mow the lawn
  • Finally Put that games console I never use, on eBay
  • Read the next chapter of my book

You don’t write any of this down, but you’re sure you’ll remember…

At 9am a family member calls and asks if you can help them move some boxes around. This only delays you by an hour or two, so you get home and you remember you need go to the gym, do laundry, buy food, and sell that N64 before it turns to dust.  But the less significant things on the list start to slip away.

As you start looking at the time you wonder if you can be really bothered to go to the gym, it’s almost lunch time, it’ll probably be busy by now and you having nothing in the cupboards. “I can always go tomorrow” is what you tell yourself. So off to the supermarket you go.

Now if you have a strong character your shopping trip will go accordingly to plan, but if you’re already under the strain from days/weeks/months of inaction, then that shopping trip can descend into a sugar filled nightmare.

Either way you make it home, no doubt annoyed that everyone else does their shopping at exactly the same time as you, forcing you to spend longer than anticipated at the supermarket. Blissfully ignorant of the fact that you could do your shopping at 7am or 10pm if you really wanted.

You make it home, but it’s now nearly 2pm, and you’ve barely had chance to sit down, so you tell yourself you deserve a little rest.

You manage to create a new to do list in your head, and a few of the items above actually make it on to there, but because the list isn’t written down, you spend the rest of your day flip-flopping between trying to remember that thing you were meant to do today, and completing some tasks while trying desperately not to forget what still needs to be done.

At the end of the day you head off to bed, feeling heavily burdened by a to-do list that never seems to disappear, and as you roll over to sleep you spot that book on the importance of family you promised yourself you were going to read the next chapter of.  Before then realizing it was Aunt Maureen’s birthday today and calling/visiting her didn’t even make it onto your mental to do list.

What follows is a night of terrible sleep, as you keep waking up reminding yourself you must call Aunt Maureen, but refusing to either take action on all these tasks that are swirling around your head nor actually writing any of them down, if only to free your mind from the burden of functioning like one of the simplest apps you can find on that phone you’re always glued too!

The Burden of Inaction – An Observation

The Burden of Inaction – An Observation

A problem I see in a lot of people these days is the stress they put upon themselves by carrying a mental to do list in the heads all day.

While it may be obvious to a lot of people, that keeping only a mental to do list is problematic. As it is very easy to forget what was on the list as the day unfolds, and other priorities pop-up, changing your thought path multiple times throughout the day.  What I actually want to write about is the burden of not ticking things off your to do list as opposed to how you maintain that list, which we’ll pick up in a future post.

Over the years, I have noticed in others as well as myself, that starting the day slowly with a long to do list is a quick way to develop a short temper, a muddled mind and a more introverted nature, especially if this becomes a daily routine.

We all know we should be ticking off the things on our to do lists, but a lot of the time we’d much rather spend another 20 minutes in bed, perhaps enjoying a nice long shower before a delicious cooked breakfast, or in today’s society aimlessly scroll through social media… But by doing so we reduce the time we have available to complete our tasks, and as such we start to get weighed down by the burden of them, worrying if we’re going to be able to complete all of them, and chastising ourselves for not taking action.  This is even more prevalent if the list is only in our heads, as we have to keep it in our forethought’s, or risk forgetting what is on it.

Now I understand if you’re a night owl the prospect of starting the day with a bang is going to be pretty daunting.  However the principles I will talk about in this and future posts can still be applied to your situation. However you will need a bit more trial and error as you find your most productive part of your day.  You may find after lunch is when you starting burning through your priorities, or perhaps the hours just before you go to bed are when you start clearing decks.  And so instead of starting the day strongly to build up your energy and rid yourself of this burden, you would actually be starting the day from a residual high you got from your efforts of yesterday.

Family VS Funds – My Story

Family VS Funds – My Story

As I mentioned in my blog post “Family VS Funds – An Observation”.  I currently work in the IT business. Specifically working with people to transform data into information.

Previously I worked in a client facing role which saw me and my colleagues travelling the length and breadth of the UK, with the occasional jaunt to Europe and the Americas. The work for which, we were fairly remunerated.

However after moving house, our head office was a good 40 minute drive each way, and most of our clients were a 1-2 hour journey away.

After a year of living out of my suitcase 5 days a week, including times where I would get home after 7pm, and be back out on the road before 6am. I decided despite working with some of the best and smartest people/co-workers/friends I could imagine, the lifestyle just wasn’t for me!

I decided to shift gears, and found a similar role, working for a company in the same town as my residence, a family run company where all of my “clients” would be internal/co-workers with the only travel being the very rare site visit to another of facilities.

Whilst my salary did not increase/decrease by more than 2% in an industry where 6-8% pay increases are not uncommon, I went from a situation where I was working and commuting on average 11-12 hours a day on a 40 hour working week, to working and commuting on average 9-10 hours a day on a 36.5 hour week.  Including 50 minutes of exercise, as I was now able to ride my bicycle to work.

I also benefited from an early finish on a Friday which meant I was able to beat my other half home from work by a couple of hours, do a lot of our weekend chores before they arrived home, and also increase my personal research and development time, giving us more of our free time as a couple back. As opposed to my previous routine which could see me fall through the front door at 7pm, having a quick drink and dinner, before hitting the hay and counting down the minutes until that dreaded Monday morning.

The change of jobs hasn’t been all roses of course, as the career progression isn’t as unlimited in my new role meaning my projected future earnings have taken a big hit, and I have lost touch with some of the newer technologies my former co-workers are playing with. But at the end of the day I believe those of us who haven’t found that fabled job they love, should take actions to ensure that our jobs are part of our lives but not our entire lives!

No one dies wishing they had spent more time in a suit in an open plan office, looking at a computer screen, and less time with their loved ones…