The internet is a strange place.
Instagram tells me that I might be interested in following your cousin. Facebook thinks your colleagues are my friends. And Twitter shows me snippets of conversations you’re having with strangers I’ve never met.
Why is this happening? How did we get to a place where conversations are public, relationships are measured in avatars, and connections mean nothing at all?
Welcome to stalker culture, where algorithms show you photos of your co-worker’s girlfriend or encourage you to connect with your neighbor’s inlaws.
Or maybe that’s just me.
I’ve come to understand that mobile device and internet usage mirrors Chernobyl — once exposed, you’re altered. The only way to fix your brain chemistry and get back to the real world is to ban the devices and minimize contact with the social web.
But I’m writing a book, and half of what constitutes “writing a book” in 2019 is marketing. So, here’s what I’m doing to participate a little less in stalker culture and make my exposure to my phone and social media a little less toxic.
Use the browser instead of apps.
I don’t have any social apps on my phone, right now. If I want to use Instagram, which has a horrible browser experience, I download the app for a moment and then delete it when I’m done.
Block, block, block.
It’s tough to beat the algorithm, but maybe we can collectively influence its thinking by blocking inappropriate friend requests and muting content recommendations. If your mom comes up in my feed, I’m now blocking your mom. To be honest, I don’t think she’ll notice.
Take it less seriously.
Just because LinkedIn or Facebook thinks I know someone doesn’t mean I know someone. These commands are suggestions, not requirements. And I don’t think anybody gives a shit if I mute them — or block their kids — because I don’t want to see private, intimate conversations.
Be true to your values.
People confuse politeness for connection. For me, I’m done with manners. The moment I feel uncomfortable, the relationship is over without explanation or apology. I’ve been on the other side of that equation, too. Being dropped is hard; however, it’s the kindest thing you can do to someone who has no place in your life.
Let’s end stalker culture.
Stalker culture exists because we let it happen to our society. Maybe it’s too late to turn back time, but we can make an effort to modify our behaviors and avoid undesirable exposure to the toxic elements of the social web.
But please stay tuned — and click on all the links and sign up for the newsletter — for my upcoming book, okay?