Obsessive-Compulsive Media Usage

The cucumber is bitter? Throw it out.

There are brambles in the path? Then go around them.

That’s all you need to know. Nothing more.

Marcus Aurelius

Have you ever fancied someone and then gone right off them once you got to know them? Of course you have.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating.

In my quest for a life of meaning, I’ve found time and time again that what you expect something to be like is utterly irrelevant. So is whatever society tells you the thing is meant to be like. Only one thing matters: what the thing actually shows itself to be like.

For example, many people see themselves as performing some kind of important civic duty by slavishly consuming “the news” every day. They think it makes them “informed” and “clued-up.” Now, it’s not for me to say whether they’re right or wrong. But I would ask them this: “Does this habit improve or destroy your quality of life?”

Similarly, many people claim to hate Facebook or Twitter, or at least to see through them, but continue to compulsively use these services. They say they want to “stay in touch with people” and “keep up-to-date.” Again, fine. But I’ll ask them again: “Does this habit improve or destroy your quality of life?”

Forget about what you expect them to be like, or what society says they’re meant to be like. Pay attention to what they show themselves to be, and then act accordingly.

If the news brings you down, then take a fucking break from it. Go for a walk. Read a book. Do all the things you claim not to have the time for. After a week, ask yourself if your experience of life has become better or worse.

If your social media usage is bringing you down, uninstall the apps. If you actually care about keeping in touch with people, call them. They’ll be happier to hear from you than to see some shitty photo of you pretending how great your life is.

The news, and the social media platforms, are not evil in and of themselves. What is evil is slavish addictions that lessen your quality of life whilst keeping you in denial of what’s going on. Just because these things exist, and just because the general population are becoming unblinking slaves to them, there is no cosmic law that says you have to join them.

If being a passive pawn in the media game isn’t bringing you the life you thought it would, re-assess. Live your life on your own terms.

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