Athena Grayson

Life, Act Two: Anti-Social Media

Hi. I’m anti-social (Uncle social and all the cousin-socials are back there at the snack bar. Ba-dum-bump. Thank you, I’m here all week. Try the veal and tip your wait staff…)

Yes. Even those of us who seem like we’re chatterboxen at parties can be hiding a chewy, introverted center. It takes a lot of energy to maintain ready quips, witty rejoinders, and neutrally-parsed language regarding current events. When we leave the party and go home, first thing we do (after we ditch the uncomfortable shoes and loosen what’s holding all the holiday sinning in) is breathe a sigh of relief at being away from all the stimuli, and just soak up the silence.

Of course, we can leave a party. Sooner or later, even the most hospitable host will hand you your hat and show you the door. But that’s not the case for social media on the internet. The world’s largest, perpetual cocktail party (aka Twitter) never stops serving the drinks. And the block party that was Facebook is turning into the world’s largest, most ongoing pie-fight intersected with the high school class reunion that won’t ever end. And yes, that’s as maniacal as it sounds.

It’s also the function of a whole lotta physiological changes in our brains. The helpful folks at ASAPScience have made a handy little video to point out 5 ways our brains are actually being re-wired by social media:

Now if that doesn’t scare you (dammit, Facebook, you already snoop the other websites I visit, now you want to re-wire my brain, too?)–well, you’re braver than I am. But take heart. If social media can re-wire your brain, then that simply proves that your brain has the capacity to re-wire. That means, in short, that you CAN teach an old dog new tricks.

In my own “rehearsal” for Act 2, I’ve been eyeballing a few things about my own life–such as my time actually spent on social media (as opposed to how much I only think I’m spending on social media), and what actual value I’m either getting or giving while I’m there. I’ve recently worried that my capacity for learning new things has diminished as I’ve grown older–after two kids, my attention span certainly isn’t what it used to be. But if facebook¬†can re-wire my brain to seek out the stimulus-response dynamic created by nebbing into my friends’ lives, maybe Pinterest can teach me how to be a better cook, or grant me an elevated level of fashion sense via DIY projects using old t-shirts.

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