Before I get into the heart of today’s topic, I need to set it up with a little personal background. In the mid-80’s, my first post graduate job was selling computers for Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC). I worked for DEC while I was in college. I was excited to move from the warehouse to a challenging professional position. DEC was an innovative, high growth computer manufacturer changing the game. A few years later, I would leave DEC to join Ameritech, the Midwest telephone company, for an opportunity to work with new, transformative technologies like video, private data networks and the Internet. I loved (still love) working with technology and the positive impact it can have on business and our human lives.
Therefore, should be no surprise, I was personally an early tech adopter, too. Cell phone in the car. Then the handheld. The Palm Pilot. I was in line for the first iPhone (released on my b-day 😉) and the first iPad. And I was all in on social media. I was Friending, Tweeting, Foursquaring, and Linking-In all the time. I thought the possibilities for these new applications was endless. I was using them for business and personal all day, every day. I remember telling my daughters who we were just old enough to join Facebook that Twitter was where it was at. They rolled their eyes. Dad doesn’t know shit. But, only a few years later, they were tweeting their asses off. When I think back to that moment, I feel like I was a drug dealer, a pusher encouraging my kids to partake in the drug of the day. As you are no doubt aware, these apps would be followed by among others, Instagram, Snap and TikTok. But I was long gone by the time these apps emerged. Long gone meaning I had quit all social media. For me, social was, as previously alluded to, an addictive drug. All consuming. And, weirdly, it didn’t really feel that social at all. It was distracting and disconnecting. A time suck that had little return. I was disturbed (and remain disturbed) by business models that are about manipulating us into “feeding the beast” so the social media companies can sell our attention to advertisers.
Flash forward a few years, I am now fully engaged in MenLiving. As a nonprofit, we didn’t have a lot of resources so I begrudgingly assumed responsibility for our social media efforts. I fought the need to do it, but in these times, if one wants to create awareness, you must be on social media, right?? I can’t believe I just wrote that, but I convinced myself that if one man found us through these platforms it was worth the effort. Over time, my enthusiasm, never high, waned. I knew the drug was bad for me (everyone really!). I felt as though the time and effort required to do social was keeping me from connecting with men in the community and prospective partners. Over this same time, research reports continued to be released that spoke to the negative impact social media is having on all of us, but especially the young. I am starting to think this stuff should come with a warning label like cigarettes: Social Media may cause anxiety, depression, disconnection and worse.
So, I am letting go. I am out…again. And MenLiving is too…we will be significantly curtailing our presence on social media and encouraging men (everyone!) to stop scrolling and start connecting. Our official statement:
The MenLiving Social Media Statement
Social media is a powerful tool for individuals and businesses to share meaningful content and projects. At the same time, we acknowledge it is an entertainment product purposefully designed to be addictive. It is a platform that thrives off consumption, distraction, and polarization – and it is leaving profoundly damaging effects on the mental health of many users.
As a non-profit organization centered on creating spaces for healthy, intentional, connected men, we want you to stop scrolling and start connecting – virtually or in-person – in spaces that are designed for authentic conversation and we don’t feel that Instagram, Facebook and TikTok serve that mission.
From MenLiving Connect to our Discord discussion channels to our podcast and blog, to virtual and in-person meetings – we’re continually creating spaces for real connection and conversation. And we hope you’ll join us there.
From here forward, our social channels will simply be our menu board. We will post the upcoming events and activities of MenLiving, we might share some “specials” occasionally but most importantly we’ll remind you to stop scrolling and start connecting.