Full text of entrepreneur Poppy Jamie’s talk: Addicted To Likes at TEDxHollywood conference.
Listen to the MP3 Audio here:
Poppy Jamie – Founder of ‘Happy Not Perfect’
Who has checked their Facebook today? Yeah, good number.
I have checked my Facebook, I’ve checked my Instagram, my Twitter, sent a few vines, and I’ve updated my Snapchat 14 times. And this is what I uploaded. No, definitely didn’t upload that; no no no no no, this is what I uploaded.
Yes, after I had filtered, cropped, and edited it, and then thought for an hour about my caption, hashtag blessed.
Yes, I am a self-confessed social media junkie. This thing, the extension of my arm, I can’t get away from. My social life beats on here 24/7, and my work is totally dependent on it.
But it was only after I bumped into a lamppost for the sixth time, after I was walking and texting, did I really begin to consider how extreme my and my generations tech-obsession has become.
I’m pretty sure if I do get married, Siri will be doing the speech at my wedding.
Technology has completely altered the nature, quality, and quantity of our social interactions. Never before in the history of mankind have we been this exposed to so much personal information about our friends, family, acquaintances, and even strangers.
Our digital identity is arguably more important than our physical one, because that’s what we’re being judged on first. Who’s online stored someone before meeting them, trying desperately hard not to like that Instagram photo from three years back. They want to include these things; they’ve begun to matter more than ever.
Put it this way: it was only when I changed my profile picture to a more photoshopped version of myself, did my Tinder account become a lot more active.
So the social media wave has submerged 2 billion people globally; it’s opened up communication channels, Age of Discovery, Education. On average a person has five social media accounts, and they roughly spend an hour and 14 minutes browsing these networks every single day.
A RISE IN MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS
And in 2014 as study found that American college students were on these things for about nine hours a day. It’s a lot. So along with this huge growth in tech, we’ve also seen another acceleration: a rise in mental health problems.
The most socially connected generation: ‘Millennials’ according to the American Psychological Association are said to be the most stressed-out generation.
Newark Magazine stated that anxiety in young people was at an 80-year high. The front of The Times newspaper in the UK a few weeks back stated: teenagers were in a depression epidemic. The Independent said: ‘teenage depression has risen 70 percent in the past 25 years. Eating disorders have increased, have doubled even in the past 7 years.
And it doesn’t just stop at young people. Over 14 million adults in the U.S. are said to be struggling from anxiety and stress disorders.
Well, that’s all plugged in the entire time so overwhelmed by emails, texts, WhatsApp, Tumblers and Pinterest, many of us haven’t taken a second to consider what our new tech habits… the impacts our new tech habits are having on our mental well-being and overall health.
When studies start associating time spent on social media sites with depression, it can’t help but get you thinking.
After social media started connecting the world, and we all began shrinking our highly complex lives into a series of 140 characters, filtered snaps, and started running our own personal accounts like advertising agencies, marketing fabulous lives, many of us forgot to read the attached handbook that said: beware this might put your life and here’s how to deal with it.
ADDICTED TO EXTERNAL VALIDATION
Oh no no we all jumped on the oversharing train obliviously, not really knowing where it was going to lead us to. And many of us have been left more insecure than ever, addicted to external validation, and suffering from acute emotion overload.
Unplug then; that’s what we need to do; we just need to unplug. That’s the answer.
But what if you can’t unplug? What about if your work requires you to be plugged in? What about if sometimes you enjoy being plugged in?
The question we need to explore is: how do we make our plugged-in lives better, less toxic, more healthy?
So I was about 14 when social media became a thing. So I clearly remember what life was like before in order to compare, and it has definitely made me more insecure.
For years, my daily routine used to go as so. Before I had even turned on the lights, I would reach my phone and start scrolling, watching, commenting and of course liking… like, like, like, like, like, like… Again then I would finish.
What psychologically had I just done there, I had gone through about 300 people, validated, celebrated, liked, their wonderfully filtered life and then returned to my unfiltered reality, not taking a second to double tap or validate myself. It shouldn’t be called Instagram, it should be called Comparegram.
All I was doing was absorbing information about everybody else’s life but my own. Social media makes us believe life is up here the entire time, but in reality life goes up and down; some of us are in high, some of us are in lows. And that’s that; no one posts, well very few people post, hardest day, thought was my boyfriend, got a spot on my forehead of my life.
No, no, we totally embellish, inflate and make our lives look wonderful. So it’s unsurprising many of us feel like we need to do better, be better, look better, just to keep up with the illusion of everyone else’s life around us.
Our increasing warped reality means our expectations for life just keep going up here, and the pressure we put on ourselves just so we’re not left behind is almost suffocating. Social media has the ability to magnify human emotions and then slap you with them on a daily basis.
Before you could kind of — you wouldn’t quite know what was going on and you know it was great, but now FOMO has been created and intensified. You know you go online and you have a little cheeky browse and then suddenly bang, you see all your friends at a party and you’re not invited to it, and you’re like oh my God, they’re clearly having the best night of their life, and I’m not there; this is a disaster.
I mean look I wish I could not be sucked in, but you just ah… I can’t help myself. Before I know it, I’m on my friends’ sisters, mothers, brothers, dogs owners profile, wondering why my life isn’t fun is as fun as theirs.
All human beings need to feel supported, we need to feel loved to function at our best. And for the like culture is a bit dangerous because it plays into these human desires, but then slightly stings you with them at the same time.
I’m sure some of you can relate to that moment when you’ve uploaded a post and you’re waiting for the ticker to go up. You’re like oh like my photograph, and there’s no likes coming, and you’re like come on just like that photograph.
I mean I’ve gotten to the extent of calling up friends to ask them to like a post. I mean could you get any more lame, and by the way I will be posting about this talk afterwards and I expect you all to like; no joke…
without realizing it, we’ve entered into this vicious cycle of like, or validating others and craving their validation so badly.
WHY HAVE WE BECOME SO ADDICTED? All likes are like a drop. There’s science behind it: when you get a like, this sparks a dopamine release, a positive endorphin release in your brain. So when you upload a post, it’s exciting you don’t know how much interaction you’re going to get.
But if you don’t get as much as you want, you feel that you’ve almost lost, you feel inadequate; you feel deflated. It doesn’t matter who you are; these little double taps have become an addictive currency, from the most liked people on Instagram making careers out of it to innocent newbies like my mum who is a confessed tapir of social media, she finally paid.
During my last visit home she had set up hospice profile to connect with old friends, and she uploaded a picture of our dog called Wally for anyone who’s interested, and she was thrilled to tell me that she had got a personal best of 3 likes. And I just looked at her, oh God, it’s only downhill from here. The Insta-monster has captured…
So look, technology is not slowing down; we are only getting more connected. So to prevent us from suffering further FOMO, further insecurities, and further addiction, we need to quickly establish a new relationship with our digital identity.
It is unrealistic to say everybody just unplug, we are way too far in. What we need to focus on is changing our mindset, creating a more loving relationship with these things, and hopefully by talking about these things, we can prevent social media new breeze from falling down the old negative potholes.
So in the handbook I wish I was given before jumping online, it would have said: one, prepare to be connected to the world. It is an amazing thing if used wisely.
Two, everyone looks prettier, happier, and skinnier; don’t believe it.
Three, use it to be inspired and connected rather than to validate your life choices.
Four, people share what they want you to believe; pinch of salt needed.
Five, upload carefully. That photo of you half naked after 8 tequilas might be less funny when applying for a job noted.
Six, be kind to people online. Every glossy account hides a sensitive soul, struggling with their own battles.
Seven, avoid scrolling feeds, if you’re feeling a bit low; instead focus on what you have over what you don’t.
Eight, nurture yourself before others; take time to care for you, whether this just be taking some deep breaths in the morning.
Nine, choose love over likes. Love is doing more for friends than just double tapping photos, and love for yourself is liking your own life before needing others.
Ten, live life for experiences, not for the gram. The best things in life are real and come without a filter.
Admittedly, this is easier to write them to implement, I’m still a work in progress, but a happy one nonetheless.
So the next time you feel yourself waiting for the ticket to go up, or the next time you’re experiencing FOMO, or the next time you spend an hour thinking about your caption, use that moment to consider what would your hand [make]. Take the power back.