Social Media is Violating My Time

Don’t be fooled — it’s violating yours too!

The Dash Represents Your Life

There’s a scene in the TV series “The Middle” where Mike Heck gives a bumbling speech at his brother’s wedding and closes with the following:

“We’re all gonna die. And we’re all gonna have a gravestone with a dash on it, 1942–2016,1963–2038, and that dash represents your life.
And the thing I know for sure is cause of these four people right here, my family, is that dash will have meant something.”

Now this scene is actually referencing a poem call “The Dash” written by Linda Ellis highlighting just how fleeting our lives are. The entirety of our lives, all our toils, sorrows, joys, successes and failures are represented by a simple, single dash on our tombstone.

It’s a beautiful reminder of just how precious and valuable our time on earth is.

Now, there’s clip on youtube of comedian Ari Shaffir from his first special “Passive Aggressive” titled “People You Don’t Want To Talk To.” As the title suggests, the clip is of him discussing the akward scenario of getting stuck in a conversation with someone you don’t want to be talking to.

(Warning: Explicit Content)

“Hey is that your time? I’m gonna rape it now!”

Just like Linda Ellis highlights the precious value of our time which is a dash in history, so does Ari highlight how much we as humans value our time. He describes how someone can come up to you and essentially say to you:

“Hey is that your time? I’m gonna rape it now!”

No doubt it’s a vulgar depiction of what it can feel like when people waste our precious and valuable time, but as with all good comedy, it’s funny because it’s true.

We’ve all been at a party, or social event, or at work or just walking down the street, or gone to that movie that we’ve felt has robbed us of our valuable and precious time on earth. Our invaluable time has been intruded upon and violated.

We don’t accept it from other human beings, I mean we may be polite about it, but we certainly aren’t happy about it.

But why, oh why do we accept it from tech companies? Why do we accept tech companies effectively say “Hey you want to use my product? Great, I’m going to violate your time now!”

It’s not like we are required to follow etiquette when using social media apps. No one follows any rules of politeness ON social media, why is it so difficult to be impolite TO social media?

I don’t know how many times I have set my phone down and felt disgusted with myself, or ashamed, or anxiety ridden after wasting countless hours scrolling through endless drivel on {fill in the blank} social media app.

Photo by Hennie Stander on Unsplash

In Karl Marx’s seminal work “Das Kapital” (the book being an excoriation of capitalism), he employs the following metaphor to describe capitalism, stating:

“Capital is dead labour, which, vampire-like, lives only by sucking living labour, and lives the more, the more labour it sucks.”

We can say much the same thing of social media which is sucking away our time. In the surveillance capitalist age we now find ourselves, led by the likes of Google, Facebook, & Co., why do we accept the very lifeblood of our existence — our time — being sucked away from us? These tech companies have become leeches and vampires.

Now to be fair — it isn’t all our fault. After all these social media companies have hired psychologists and behaviorists to develop products that optimize engagement by extorting psychological weaknesses of our brains. I discuss this issue more thoroughly in another blog post here.

At the end of the day we still are responsible for our actions. But we can’t be held responsible for something we are not aware of — so the key is to first put the effort into recognizing what is happening. Only with awareness can we begin to address issues such as the unethical design practices of tech companies.

Yet still, I fall into the trap of becoming absorbed in social media. Sometimes I wonder if we (the human race) have degenerated into a homogeneous group of masochists that kind of enjoy our time being violated over and over again.

It’s in these moments that I am hit with a wave of despair and I wonder if we’re going to survive this new attention economy form of socially destructive capitalism.

In the words of Ari Shaffir:

“I’m done letting people{technology} I hate, choose how I live my life.”

When I think of what social media has become and that it’s sole purpose is to maximize violating our time, I can’t help but to think of Nirvana’s infamous anti-rape song “Rape Me” a song about surviving the worst of humanity.

Violate my time google, facebook, twitter, instagram, {fill in the blank}, etc.— I know I’ll survive because I’m a survivor.

Human Being, b. circa 1990 ~ planet Terra, Via Lactea Galaxia