Recently, I’ve been watching Buzzfeed videos of a man (Keith Habersberger) who lets Twitter decide his life for a whole day.
Despite titling the series as “I Let Twitter Run My Day…”, Habersberger still had some measure of control: he sent out polls, asking his followers to choose between a few options. In some videos, he did some things that his followers suggested, but again this implies that he had some agency in choosing these decisions.
What would happen if you let social media control every aspect of your life?
The series interested me because I’ve always had the preconceived notion that having social media run someone’s life was the worst thing that could happen. Many individuals already feel pressured by societal cues and expectations that they have to adjust their lifestyles accordingly to fit into those ideals—appearance and behaviour amongst other things.
Knowing that I’m allowing someone else to control every facet of my life—where “no” doesn’t exist—scares me. As a young adult, I take pride in making my own decisions (even if they might not be the best ones) but to have that freedom taken away brings a lot of anxiety for me.
But the series managed to bring out some positives as well as negatives if someone on social media really did control your life.
Some of the positives…
1. You get to try something new.
How many times have you avoided doing something because you were too scared to do it? Or because you didn’t have the time or were just plain lazy?
Having someone else choose something that’s out of your comfort zone can be gratifying. You can conquer your fears. You can feel like you can accomplish anything and everything!
2. You get to go on an adventure.
Let Twitter take you to a different part of your city that you’ve never been to. Let Facebook choose the restaurant, store or movie.
Sometimes, sometimes, people on social media knows what’s good.
There might be a tiny shop nestled in the neighbourhood that you passed a million times without even realizing the treasures it holds inside. Having social media tell you to visit this shop because some users know that it’s a gem, could be a blessing.
3. You get to learn something new about yourself.
Anxiety and self-misperception are two factors that have the greatest influence on someone’s sense of identity. A lot of the fears that arise from not doing something or not saying something is because of a little voice inside your head that tells you “You’re not good enough.”
For example, someone on social media decides to change your entire wardrobe into something that you think is going to look horrible on you: it’ll make you look too fat or the colour’s not right for your skin tone. However, these thoughts might be because of your own misinterpretation about yourself and may not be true at all.
Some of the negatives…
1. Social media can be cruel and unabashedly so.
People on social media will tell it to you straight if what you’re wearing looks bad. They can be as blunt as they want because on the Internet, they’re relatively anonymous on some outlets like Instagram and Twitter: you can’t confront them face-to-face, there’s no way for you to track them down.
Image Source: Pew Research Center
2. Social media can be harmful to your health.
Let’s say you have an anxiety disorder and social media demanded that you walk into a crowded mall and hug someone on the opposite end…
Just the thought of it already has you gasping. You can’t feel your fingers. You can’t feel anything except terror. You can’t move. You can’t think.
But there is a pressure at the back of your mind. That you have to do it. ‘They’ told you to do it.
3. You have no control over anything.
It’s pretty terrifying when social media is the one who’s in charge of everything, and you are not. Social media controls every minute of your life, from the moment you wake up to the second you fall on your bed.
For example, you can’t back out of going to a party despite being exhausted, because peers on social media are pressuring you to attend it. You might have to talk to a person who you seriously dislike and pretend you like them.
In order for there to be benefits to social media, you have to be able to balance it. You have to be open to the fact that there will be constant judgements from those around you, either in-person or on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram and other social media platforms. And you also have to be open to the possibilities and potential adventures that may arise from such connections.