Why Young People Are Ditching Social Media For Good

The featured image is a work by the incredibly talented Steve Cutts.

Kids growing up in 2017’s digital dystopia are sold one of the biggest lies ever told. That social media is an innocuous online tool to “connect” with friends.

In reality social media has destroyed meaningful connection and replaced it with artificial online packs of “like-minded individuals” who all hold the same beliefs and subscribe to the same dogmas. This meticulously designed,  hyper-addictive technology’s only mantra is to keep the audience hooked for as many hours of the day as possible, monetize their attention by collecting data and sell it to advertisers.

Facebook says it has an eye-popping 2 billion users. It is staggering to see how globally, so much of our lives have migrated to platforms controlled and designed by a few Silicon Valley engineers. The exciting explosion of smartphone technology has overshadowed the questions as to whether tech companies should have such an invasive, intimate role in our lives. Leader in tech design ethics Tristan Harris explains why we should be concerned about tech changing our behaviour:

“Companies say, we’re just getting better at giving people what they want. But the average person checks their phone 150 times a day. Is each one a conscious choice? No. Companies are getting better at getting people to make the choices they want them to make.”

Young people are particularly vulnerable. Being introduced at such a young age to this addictive, disconnected lifestyle has created drug like dependencies among teens and desensitized many to sex and violence as they are daily exposed to porn and brutality online. This constant stimulation and competition for our attention also leaves many miserable, anxious and eventually feeling they have lost valuable time and years to aimlessly scrolling through newsfeeds and trying to convince others that they live a perfect life.

Is there hope?

Yet this business model of enslaving us to our phones is unsustainable. History shows that when advertisers and attention grabbers go too far, the people fight back. No more so than in 1860’s Paris when an aspiring young artist named Jules Chéret discovered the “billboard” as a technological innovation in commercial advertising. By creating seven foot tall, brightly coloured posters displaying eye-catching imagery such as half dressed women Chéret quickly became widely famous as a pioneer in art and commerce and others quicky began imitating his work.

Eventually though it became all too much. The constant attention grabbing of commercial advertising stripped Paris of it’s architectural beauty and engendered a social revolt. Parisians declared war on “the ugly poster” and began lobbying the City government to limit where advertisements could be placed, ban billboards from train tracks and heavily tax them in other public spaces.

The government took aggressive action and today many of the advertisement restrictions are still in place which is why Paris remains in many parts a beautiful city, unperturbed by the constant assault of advertising.

Will a similar revolt occur today in relation to social media? It’s difficult to say, we have become so individualized, I sometimes question whether young people still have the drive to organize and mobilize on mass or whether our conception of protest amounts to signing an online petition and joining a protest Facebook page.

But I do have hope. The first sparks of rebellion are already beginning to fly. Figures released in October show that 57% of schoolchildren in the UK would not mind if social media never existed and an even larger, 71% say they have taken “digital detoxes” to escape its constant stimulation, distraction and pressures.

The BBC also reported that pupils in Kent have  set up a three-day “phone-fast”. With sixth former Isobel Webster, describing:

“There’s a feeling that you have to go on Instagram, or whatever [site], to see what everyone’s doing – sometimes everyone’s talking about something and you feel like you have to look at it too”.

One Year 10 pupil, Pandora Mann, 14, said she was a bit annoyed at the phone-fast initially, but soon realised “we don’t enjoy our phones as much as we think we do”.

“In terms of the way we view ourselves and our lives negatively,” she explained, “I think people put what they see as their best image forward – it’s not always the real image.”

Isobel said that the ban stopped her from sitting in her room scrolling through social media and encouraged her to spend her work breaks chatting to friends.

She said it reminded her “what it was like before” – when as a Year 7 (aged 12) she would spend more time socialising in person.

Kids today are showing that they are not just the most tech savvy among us they’re also the most tech sensitive. Counterculture movements are cropping up and tapping into the undercurrent of anger and disillusionment experienced by many.

Folk Rebellion is one interesting example. A movement dedicated to reconnecting people with reality, creating a more balanced relationship with tech and ‘living in the present with actual things.’ Young people are gravitating to these movements as they begin to rediscover the pleasures of physical books, reconnect with the physical world and relearn what it means to live a fulfilling life.

The resistance is rising.








23 thoughts on “Why Young People Are Ditching Social Media For Good

  1. Most people don’t even realize how addicted they are to social media. It’s used as a medium to attempt to connect with other people but I believe social media is affecting people to the point where they lose, or even don’t develop much needed social skills. I have spoke to people in my age group and they are so surprised at how they feel when they “unplug” and take the time to read a book.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Cant believe how often we check our phones.. I know I have the best and most relaxing time when I’m on vacation and know I don’t have to be reached. The phone is in the safety deposit box and my head is so much more in the moment. I do have to admit social media has helped me a lot as an expat to have more and better contact with people back home. I love that part. But I can see the over usage is an issue. The real world is pretty nice as well people. Take a look outside the window. Or even better, take a walk. Without your phone. Don’t take any pics – I dare you 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. We cannot merely blame something outside us. If we feel like checking social media all the time or get addicted to phones, just like colas and fast food we need to look within and control our own addiction through conscious choices. Yes, corporation have always wanted to sell and advertise their goods to us and social media is the latest way…. but is it not true that most people only care about how they look to others and how popular they are just because they want to be celebrities like the mass media idols they have only encouraged. How many people actually choose to read or view only useful or positive information or to make only meaningful and deep connections that expand their consciousness? Why are most people only excited about celebrities and negative information instead of enjoying peace, love and kindness from an inner level?

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Nice article, and I hope you’re right, that things are beginning to change for the better.

    Don’t agree though that young people are ‘tech-savvy’, it’s their ignorance of such that leads them to be so easily manipulated by Silicon Valley.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Very good analysis, Mr. Boyle. I love this article at all. But,
    I have A solution.
    How to protect students from ditching?
    That’s >> : “Let them take A home schooling.”
    Because He is special. School environment/ any others environment are not suitable with them. But,
    Families are.
    Keep Your children at home for home schooling. But,
    “Introduce them, that : They are An individual creatures. And Also, : A social creatures.”
    How to tell them?
    A comic/ or short Stories book. Those would be good on them. For sure.
    Why I’m sure?
    I was.
    Hhh.. Good luck for You all, My friends, new parents, and May the goodness be with You, always, Mr. Boyle 🙂
    See ya! – Mimicocoo, A Crtvsn author.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great post! Two comments:
    1.on checking phone 150 times a day. I agree that this looks like a dependency but also it reflects our obsession with checking mail, shopppng and news. We also read differently- lots of short articles instead of books- so blogs and life journals often checked by phone too.
    2. On friends and likes online. Yep, it has very little to do with real friends. But this can be addictive because online you can create your image much easier than in real life and also get boost for your self esteem by getting likes. This is critical for teens. I wonder if working on self esteem earlier in childhood would help?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. As a college teacher (soon to be retired) on the other side of the Pond, I am daily distressed at how the educational establishment continues to force-feed young people on technology “that they’ll need to participate in the future”. No holding the line of independent thought here–just all-out surrender to “trending” and the “profile” If we MUST grow more high-tech because resistance is futile, then how can technology be called progress? Is not progress for a being endowed with free will an adjustment of circumstances that allows a broader scope to freedom? The gadgetry cannot serve US if our humanity is increasingly defined in terms that accommodate IT.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Very thoughtful and interesting. I have a more wait and see attitude to all this. I think the first systems are going to make the big mistakes. And then a new wave will beat them down and produce something better.

    There are signs of this happening already. Here is an example of a reasonable twitter alternative that federates the servers to people instead of corporations: https://joinmastodon.org/ Will there be a facebook alternate that gets traction? Possibly. Is there value in this happening? I think there may be and that it can be of great value to a healthy society, but we are far from that at present.


  9. This is great. I encourage my students to take a break from social media when they have an important test coming up, so they can think more clearly and focus more. The few that have tried to do so, felt it made a difference for them.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Social Media harkens back to the old adage opinions are like …..everyone has one. I ditched this approach in late 2011 I realized then that although I feel people have the right to opinions they don’t have the right to be listened too. I got tired of politics, family TMI that I was gleefully ignorant of prior to social media. In truth I learned a lot of stuff about friends I was happily ignorant of and prefer to keep that way. I listen to my girlfriend rant of friends posts. Anger steaming from her over some distant cousins politics. Truth is I liked many a cousin and uncles and aunts prior to social media. Now occasionally when I come into contact with family and friends I make a trip to the porch or stop by the kitchen for a sandwich if the hint isn’t picked up on i pleasantly head to my vehicle and make some excuse for a fast exit. The discussion turns on the next family event to what’s up with John vice politics etc. Its not I don’t have political opinions it’s that premise of my 12 step knowledge I got control over one person, me. Most people don’t give a flying rats patooty what you think. Most comments a legend in your own mind thoughts. Simply put kids most people think of you not much differently then old farts like me, in your case your young and inexperienced in mine I’ve lost my faculties. Your just not nearly as smart as you think you are. I was once your age and thought just like you. I’m smarter then my parents. As we get near 30 we realize we’re not that smart that our parents aren’t stupid their experienced. It’s like magic they become smart. Social media is the lazy mans way of attending debating societies monthly socials of the 1970’s in your underwear in the basement


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