selfless in the Age of Social Media

selfless in the Age of Social Media August 16, 2019 · 9 min. readThis article may contain affiliate links.

Do you ever feel lonely? Or worthless? Or like you're not good enough?

There's a chance you're not alone.

More and more people feel this way each year, yet our network of people is becoming ever larger. We have a plethora of ways to share our opinions and thoughts, but it seems the more we share, the hollower we become. It's as if the more we put out there, the less we have to ourselves.

I know I struggle with this a lot too. I feel the endless social media race is one that I can never win. I need to post on all the social media networks, I need to comment, respond, interact, create, share, tweet, like and post every hour of every day. It's exhausting, and for what? For a few more comments, a few more followers and a few more dopamine hits that keep me coming back for more.

But what if I disconnected from all of that? Would I still be who I am? Would I be less… or might I be more?

This week the Regina International Film Festival and Awards screened selfless, a documentary about social media and the emotional, psychological and physical toll it leaves on us. I grew up when social media was just blossoming. It was a Wild West time of unsupported texting between different providers and terrible ringtones. People my age can remember the "struggles" of having to push the same button on their phone multiple times just to get a single letter.

But that also means I'm old enough to know I have a social media problem, and I am mature enough to know when to turn it off and walk away. I know from experience that very little will change if I stopped using social media. There is so much noise online that if one trumpet stops playing, very few people will notice the difference.

But the younger generation, those who were born in the digital era, they don't know the difference between offline and online. They don't the difference between doctored images and reality. To them, the real world is the same as the digital world. This intermingling of fact and fiction, of truth and lies, causes many of today's youth to be lonelier, more anxious, more depressed and more unsatisfied with their own lives.

selfless poster Raise the bar with selfless

selfless digs deep into this phenomena, exploring both those who live with and without the Internet. The film asks: "If a girl lived in the forest with no mirrors, magazines or social media - what would beautiful look like to her and how would she see herself?"

selfless starts off with the Warburton family in Devon, England. Their "wifi box" only seems to work half the time – and that is when their daughter Kuki isn't turning it off. Kuki can feel the signals from the Internet router, and it makes her feel "not right". Many people around the world can feel them too, and yet, there is very little regulation about them bombarding us every single day. Over-exposure to wifi can lead to anxiety, paranoia, hallucinations and migraines. Thankfully, turning off the wifi immediately makes Kuki feel better, and she's at her best when she's nowhere near it at all.

And so Kuki, her brother Izzi, and the rest of the Warburtons, live a happy life, one without the Internet, without social media and without the noise that the world makes everyday. They live for each other, for their family, their friends, and for their own lives.

Off the grid with the Warburtons

Half a world way, selfless then peers into the classrooms of the United States and Canada – some of the most Internet-accessible countries in the world – and into the minds of students that are suffering at the hands of social media. Dr. Dave Currie, one of the many doctors and professionals interviewed in the film, says that since the dawn of time, teenagers are self-absorbed and narcissistic. Teenagers want admiration and confirmation that they are "good enough", and in today's era that means getting the attention of strangers online. If a selfie you took doesn't get enough likes or attention, are you still good enough? Or can you be better? Dr. Currie calls this pursuit of self-gratification, "The Cult of Me".

Many associate this kind of narcissism and self-doubt with young women, but young men struggle with it just as much. Suddenly even the jocks in school are no longer the biggest, fastest, strongest, and most sought after alpha males. At one time the cool kids were the coolest people around, but now they are competing in a race they can never win – and this can devastate the development of their self-confidence. From the age of thirteen they are competing on a global stage, one that has no trouble telling them they're nowhere good enough.

Bud sadly, this addiction to social media is happening much earlier than teenagers. While teens might be the ones who are portrayed to be on their phones, toddlers and children use them too. While they don't have the cognitive abilities to understand internet peer-pressure, the devices themselves still impact them. Many devices emit "blue light", which causes eyestrain, migraines and insomnia, and children don't know to step away from the devices and give themselves a break. Our eyes have adapted to filter out and stop normal UV light, but blue light shoots right into the back of our cornea causing "macular degeneration", or irreversible vision loss. In many ways, the children of today are test subjects to the world's largest technological experiment.

selfless is not an anti-technology film

To discuss such a broad spectrum of people and age groups, selfless explores the lives of today's youth – from children who start their own recycling business, to teens who are fighting for their life against cancer. Their lives, their struggles, and their triumphs all reflect who they are, not their online following, and this is what makes them beautiful.

Kim Laureen

selfless was produced by Kim Laureen and Megan Nicole. It has been screened around the world before coming to Regina. Downton Abby Business District says, "During the entire film you could of heard a pin drop in the theatre. The impact was simply moving and tremendous." HBO Documentaries' Greg Rhem continued the praise: "May selfless continue this discovery of inspirational and non self-absorbed youth like Kuki, Kiera, Ryan, Josh and Patricia."

selfless credits

The film screened at the Cineplex Cinemas Normanview at on August 15th as part of the 2019 Regina International Film Festival and Awards. There are many more screenings of other films throughout the week, with tickets ranging from a $20-day pass, to a $100 all-access pass. Tickets and more information can be found on http://riffa.ca/

What are your thoughts on social media and technology? Should we limit our time to it? Let me know in the comments below.

And, a big thank-you to Megan Nicole for inviting me to the screening and for telling me all about the film!

Don't forget to pin it!

selfless in the Age of Social Media selfless in the Age of Social Media

And, as always, a big thank you to my sweetheart Jessica Nuttall for proof reading a countless number of my articles. I couldn't do any of this without you. I love you.

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