Truth is, for some, social media may not affect them adversely because they use it sparingly and with only one intention – and that is to connect with meaningful people and projects.
However, social media is designed to become addictive, and many of us [including myself] have admitted to using it far too much – especially the younger generation - and something that seems common with all of us that use it to much is that it can trigger feelings of sadness, dissatisfaction, frustration, anxiety or loneliness which not only impacts on the quality of our life and relationships, it also negatively impacts our own mental well-being.
And with social media now integrating more into our lives – especially within schools - and with the current desire to release an Instagram for kids – I really do find myself having great concerns with it all.
Social media is not a fundamental technology, while it leverages some fundamental technologies, at the end of the day it's an entertainment product designed for profit. It’s a place where your attention and mind get literally mined, hooking you in with shiny treats in exchange for minutes of your attention and bites of your personal data, which can then be packaged up and sold. The more we are hooked and scrolling, the more we become addicted and the more the social media platform profits.
Founder of the Centre for Humane Technology - Tristan Harris – whom you may recognise from the Netflix documentary "The Social Dilemma" says that social media is mining for our attention and that we have now become the product. He says that social media profits off addiction, distraction, outrage, polarization, and misinformation.
I find it scary that social media companies have the power to control billions of minds every day through notifications, clickbait, misinformation to manipulative algorithms - which all have one agenda: to lead you down the rabbit hole to keep your attention.
As of the 11th of April 2022, I am 100% committed to no longer use social media for my business.
I will switch off social media as one of our marketing channels for both The OM Collective and Botanical Trader. I will keep the profile still active - but will no longer be engaging and active.
Mainstream marketers would say not engaging in social media is business suicide – however in my heart of hearts I never felt authentic or good about posting on social media from the start – especially when it came to plugging my products and services. I never really understood why someone would want to see a picture of my products and be sold to in there so called down time – a time in the day when they should be focusing on self-care, connection with others or just simply enjoying the day.
In my opinion and what I have experienced within my own journey - is that I believe social media has one agenda – to persuade, manipulate and to sell. Whether that is a consumer product, an opinion, a lifestyle, an agenda, a thought, an ideal, a trend, your data, your psyche and I would go as far as saying it sells fear, anger, and feelings of inadequacy to gain some form of control.
My businesses are in the business of self-care and my genuine desire for my businesses are to form authentic connections and create a space where people feel good, nourished and somewhat light and breezy. I have zero desire to unethically manipulate others into buying what I am selling, and to be honest I only want to sell my products and services to the people who genuinely want them and seek them out.
I have zero interest in curating a perfect feed and illusion of my product. In a world full of filters, fake news, hype, and noise – I don’t know about you, but I am personally craving real life. I am seeking truth, honesty, and flaws. Social media doesn’t sell this – and if it does it almost always has an agenda.
I want to earn the respect of my customers not demand it. I want to do some old-fashioned hard work and focus on real connection to build trust and authentic rapport. I want to make my customers feel valued without 3rd party agendas, I also want to give my customers full transparency and the freedom to choose what they feed into their minds. And at no point in my transaction with them do I want them influenced in a negative way or manipulatively sold to.
When I choose to use an external platform, I want to trust that it provides a safe space for all users, free of harassment, harm, and manipulation. I want services to be transparent about their commercial agenda and revenue streams. I will not tolerate algorithms that target users with negative content, fake news, or extreme viewpoints to boost engagement, clicks, and shares. Most importantly I will not tolerate those with power, money, influence, and big egos manipulating the more vulnerable or insecure.
The truth is, I have tried to come off social media many times – but a combination of my own FOMO coupled with the business advice from almost all leaders is that you must be on social media. So, despite my best efforts and intentions I have always found myself back in the social media jungle.
So here I am - unplugging to regain my freedom. Freedom in mind. Freedom from my own sabotaging thoughts of self-doubt. Most importantly gaining freedom and more time for selfcare and focusing on what truly matters by releasing the excess work and marketing commitments I put into curating my social media feeds.
This time, I have more than my own emotional burnout to draw on when trying to determine if social media is positive or destructive. Thanks to some courageous whistle-blowers, it has been confirmed that highly targeted algorithms and loose content regulation is causing mental harm to big sectors of the population globally. No thank you – I refuse to be part of any of that agenda.
Unlike the rich, powerful, and influential players of social media who choose fame, money and admiration over people’s wellbeing – I personally am willing to sacrifice my own financial gain in order to make a stand and boycott a corrupt industry.
Bullying, fake news, extremist viewpoints, FOMO, unrealistic filters, manipulative algorithms; this endlessly scrolling stream of fakeness and nonsense is contributing to massively increased rates of suicides, depression, anxiety, and feelings of worthlessness across the population – especially in our youth.
As a yoga and meditation teacher and the artisan of self-care products, I pour all my energy and intention into creating products that help people switch off, relax and focus on their own wellbeing and self-worth. Social media platforms have become the antithesis of this agenda, with algorithms designed to keep people scrolling and stop them from switching off, relaxing, and connecting with themselves.
If I invite my customers to meet me on social media, then I am asking them to walk through manipulative and toxic messaging – for what – just so I can sell them something.
Social media platforms are beginning to feel like places no one should be encouraged to go. Something must change. Platforms must drop greed and introduce best practice guidelines.
As the owner of a self-care company I have a responsibility to prioritise the wellbeing of my customers and I am not sitting around to wait for change – therefore it was an easy decision to boycott social media until regulations change.
Besides social media is so boring – so unoriginal – it is time we found more innovative and inspiring ways to connect with our customers. We live in a world of instant gratification where everyone seems to want everything with little effort and work.
I believe money is simply an energy exchange, and to have a positive exchange for both parties it requires not only a fair and ethical deal – it also requires that the product was made with heart, authenticity, and hard work. Bring back the days of the craftsmen. Bring back the day whereas businesses we had to earn the respect of customers over time rather than just demand it with fear and manipulation.
For now, I am craving not only the simpler world, but a world where I earn the respect from my customers. The kind of world where I generally show up and serve my customer. The world where I earn my customers. So, until social media cleans up their act you can find me curating real content that requires real work that connects real people.
I’ve spent years creating safe products and holding nurturing safe spaces for my customers. There is now undeniable evidence that we are all being put at risk when using social media. I’m not willing to expose my customers to this toxic world, so it’s time to take it out of my marketing agenda.
I promise not to be completely anti-social. I will do all I can to find new ways to connect and to build better channels of communication elsewhere. For now, I can still be found on my podcast and over at YouTube. No need to click like, subscribe or get notifications, you can just drop in on your own time and on your own agenda. I also have my weekly newsletter and am currently creating an online community and retreat for my customers.
Together let's free our minds and create more time for doing the things that truly matter. Let's find the beauty back in reality, in imperfection and in the flaws of real living.
Until we meet next - somewhere besides social media
Thanks for reading and respecting my opinion
Founder Botanical Trader + The OM Collective