My iPhone shows me how much time I spend on each app every week. My top app is Clock, which I use for cooking and brewing coffee. In second place is Instagram, averaging roughly 10 hours a week, followed by YouTube and Discord. Facebook, at just 24 minutes, barely made the list. This feature, presumably designed to curb social media app usage, allows setting time limits for each app but not minimum usage goals. Oddly, I feel guilty about not spending more time on social media; thus, the latter would be more useful for me. I’m too concerned with what I want to say, and not enough with what my friends are thinking and feeling—bordering on narcissism.
What I find useful about social media is its ability to show how people react to current events, which, in many ways, is more important than the events themselves. The phrase “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” resonates because the object of fear has no inherent significance unless we fear it. Just because events receive widespread media coverage doesn’t mean they are inherently important, but the reactions to them can become significant. Therefore, I use social media as an entry point into current events; I first observe people’s reactions and then look up the actual events.
Social media is also beneficial for breaking out of my personal bubbles, whether they are political, racial, cultural, gender-based, or related to age, especially as I work remotely. Travel allows you to break physical bubbles but not cognitive ones. Living in New York City and using social media helps me achieve both without traveling.
Meeting people in person is necessary to understand the full picture, as a social media persona conceals as much about a person as it reveals. This is also true for real-life personas. Moreover, each person brings out different aspects of yourself. It’s like how different brewing methods extract diverse flavors from the same coffee beans.
Perhaps the iPhone’s screen time feature could be used to ensure enough diversity in how you “brew” your friendships.
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