In our second official Call To Inaction – our term for a concerted, repeating avoidance of a product, service, or activity – we are addressing a realm that will require much attention in the coming month’s posts: the Internet. In 2016, hardly any of us actually stop and take time out of our day to “log onto the internet;” we are all, already, constantly connected to it: updated minute by minute with notifications, ready to receive or retrieve information at a moments notice, and essentially maintaining a continuous presence online which was begun many years ago, with the creation of our various pages, profiles, and online accounts. And this is all happening right inside our pockets, on our phones. Which, come to think of it, are actually more than likely in our hands than our pockets right now..
By investing our identities, our emotions, our time, and our attention so intensely and so continuously in our social media realities, we sacrifice constructing equivalent such investments in the real world. This is not to say that the person with the most personalized, up-to-date Facebook profile has the least defined, least personalized real life identity, in some 1-to-1 inverse correlation of energy or competence; but that the principle of “serving two masters” applies: you can only do one at a time.
Social media is now almost exclusively and most effectively used by advertisers. How can we illustrate this to you? Think of everyone you follow or engage with over social media sites like Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, etc… Barring a small circle of actual IRL friends or family, they will all be people who have some product or service to offer or endorse. Even if you don’t follow them specifically, their sponsored posts will eventually be forced into your feed. As celebrities, musicians, artists, comedians, writers, rappers; every personality online exists for the purpose of engaging with, attracting, or maintaining their customer base. Even common braggarts and show-offs, or even the friend of a friend posting wedding, baby, or party pictures make this list – each of these people are invested in selling an image of themselves that affords them a certain status or perceived lifestyle. This makes social media very advantageous for such producers, whose efforts or products are eagerly shared across thousands of pages and profiles by us, the consumers, who freely give exposure to those who expose themselves (or more likely, those who expose others).
Our eye for catching obvious (or not-so-obvious) ads has become much more finely tuned in recent years, with the rise of so-called native advertising or sponsored content. This evolution of advertising shows us how relentless and therefore inventive the ad industry is, and must be, in order to continue moving units in an ever-shifting social and thereby commercial landscape.
Clearly, advertisers are dealing with the same instability and irrationality of our modern systems we do, and suffering the same alienation and desperation that we experience individually. This is why we have seen advertising becoming more and more shocking and egregious over the decades, in content and form; because not only do they exist in the same jaded society which demands more and more stimulus as we do, but they must also keep up with the ever-diminishing and shifting attentions and interests of younger generations.
That’s why we need a break from it all. Even if just for one day.
The second Unist Call To Inaction is to blackout all social media activity on Saturdays. We want to seriously impact the traffic otherwise allotted to social media sites, apps, and channels for one day a week, in a way which reflects the direction we intend to take society: towards meaningful, small group communities that interact in shared space-time, face to face, without technology dependent conversations and activities.
Real Social Saturdays, Social Media Free Sabbath, IRL Saturdays, Blackout Sabbath, whatever you want to call this simple, virtual abstinence, every Saturday, all day, we want you to join us.
This is not intended to be some hokey, cheesy, hippie, “return to nature because the iPhones are givin’ me sperm cancer” type of guilt-field-trip. And this is not meant to be a return to the “good ole days,” or any step backwards in any way. This is an acknowledgement that technology must be utilized appropriately by humans in order to maintain a balance, between what seems to be important, and what really is important. Lack of moderation has been the downfall of many a man, and many a culture. Let us seize the reigns before the same could be said of us.
Or is it already too late?
Let us know your experience (preferably the day after!) and tell us how you’re coping with this self-imposed restriction. We anticipate that, especially for some of us writing this, it will be much harder than we presume.
But there is strength in numbers. And together, we hope to identify that strength, and perhaps even send a message – to Facebook, to Twitter, to our elites, and to the world – that large scale, global solidarity can be achieved: in small, exemplary ways such as this, and in even greater ways still to come.