Is Social Media Huxley's Brave New World?
Name: Monica C.
Profession: Writer & Artist
Location: Los Angeles, CA
"When I'm feeling even slightly insecure, reflective or anxious, social media mirrors exactly that — my fears, tribulations and doubts are amplified in a way that stir a chaotic discomfort that can be difficult to shake off."
SMMMA: What do you feel most anxious about on Social Media?
Monica: It depends on my mindset. When I'm feeling confident of my life choices and as if things are aligned in a way that support my inner desires, social media doesn't make me feel anxious. When I'm feeling even slightly insecure, reflective or anxious, social media mirrors exactly that — my fears, tribulations and doubts are amplified in a way that stir a chaotic discomfort that can be difficult to shake off.
When I do feel overwrought with negative thoughts - what haunts me? Generally it stems from comparison — I look at people who seem to be the "better" version of me and try to rationalize in my mind why they have succeeded while I am still struggling. I justify scenarios in my mind: "Well, she doesn't work"- "He's a trust fund kid" - "They were born into it"- "She has no responsibility but to breathe". I try to make an excuse as to why they are "better" than me, instead of focusing on the cause of my own unsettling anxiety. Ultimately though, when I'm able to take a step back, I realize that the destructive thoughts simply stem from fear and are not a fair representation of my peers nor an accurate reflection of my worth.
SMMMA: What helps you stop feeling anxious?
Monica: Decoupaging, writing, painting, doing anything crafty, or spending time in nature (especially in the mountains) helps me rise above whatever I feel ready to release. The element of unknown in the forest, yet the way in which it simply all makes sense, reminds me to accept the perfection within the chaos in all aspects of my life. Nature reflects a pattern in the way things naturally flow, free of the self inflicted fears of our mind, which always tends to bring me back to the source and to my state of calm flow, naturally melting away whatever caused anxiety.
SMMMA: Anything else to add?
Monica: I think Social Media is our modern day form of Huxley's soma. In Brave New World, it is a governmentally provided drug to the people. It represents a way to escape pain, discomfort, embarrassment, sadness or anger and to enhance joy, arousal, and an overall sense of well being.
Is Social Media different? It can give you the best of highs, connecting you with friends, current events, and whatever else you care about, or it can send you down a rabbit hole of comparison and a general sense of discontentment - but who is deciding what is fed to you? There is no universal solution to the anxiety that Social Media causes, but since it's here (and doesn't seem be to going anywhere), all we can do is try to use it as a tool in understanding ourselves, decode the messages for what they really are, and maybe even enjoy being connected without letting it condition our values.
"Actual happiness always looks pretty squalid in comparison with the over-compensations for misery. And, of course, stability isn't nearly so spectacular as instability. And being contented has none of the glamour of a good fight against misfortune, none of the picturesqueness of a struggle with temptation, or a fatal overthrow by passion or doubt. Happiness is never grand."
- Mustapha Mond, Brave New World