At Regional Men’s Health we are always promoting social wellbeing and connectedness through appropriate communication and social networks because we are all social creatures at heart. However, in some ways social media is taking over as the predominant form of social connection, especially with younger blokes. This isn’t totally a bad thing, there’s a lot to be said for being able to open a group chat with your mates and stay engaged with your friends even if your working or studying a long way from home. Social media is a form of social activity and can be very helpful, especially in maintaining friendships and as a convenient way to organize real world activities. So social media isn’t this other world as it sometimes gets characterized but can be a simple extension of already existing social groups and dynamics.
Therefore, we must be vigilant and mindful of living in the here and now and staying connected to others. This is particularly important for blokes and must be maintained through the age-old channels of community. That can be the local sporting club, either participating or watching with a friend or simply having a drink/cuppa with our neighbour and dropping in on our mates.
These are some ways to stay present in the physical world that avoid the issues that the use of social media can raise, especially if we are young. These issues unfortunately are in most cases the result of deliberate programming and design by the creators of the tech companies. That’s because Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat amongst others make their money based on advertising; it’s their goal to maximise the attention that you give to their platforms. Knowing that people are more engaged by negative emotion; things that cause us to feel outrage, anxiety, tribalism and envy are often highlighted or even manufactured to reflect the worst aspects of our nature to monopolise our attention.
It’s well-known that on social media we get shunted into our own echo chambers, socially and politically. We are also taught to value internet points that can be withheld from us, we’re shown the highlight reel of other people’s lives which we compare to our own day to day. As the saying goes “comparison is the enemy of happiness’ and young people especially are inundated with examples of lives that seem better than their own, with political information that outrages them and then the deliberate delaying of likes and positive attention on their own posts. It’s no surprise that social media can be a place where young people feel more isolated and less social.
So, what does this mean for blokes that are rightfully worried by this technology and how it affects us? Well the answer is not to abandon it, instead we must understand its limitations and its consequences while using it to its best purpose. That means instead of looking at people’s holiday pictures for hours, taking pictures of every meal or reading the latest Donald Trump controversy, use it to remember birthdays, organise a barbecue with your friends, to keep track of what music festivals are coming up and other simple activities that bring you closer to people, not feeling further away.
Jaxon and the Team
The Regional Men’s Health Initiative
delivered by Wheatbelt Men’s Health (Inc.)
PO Box 768, Northam WA 6401
Phone: 08 9690 2277