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Whatever the benefits of social media, they aren’t worth the costs. After watching The Social Dilemma, an estimated 100 million people worldwide are now aware of how social media harms us, and a powerful movement for change is growing.

#MySocialTruth offers a platform for young people like you to bring your voice to this movement. Share your experience, and help reimagine the future.

I thought it would be fun to download Tik Tok and it ruined my life
I was in a pro-anorexia group when I was in 7th grade
Deleting the app was the best thing I ever did for myself
I didn’t realize what Instagram was doing to me
I don’t use Snapchat anymore and I’m less anxious
When is the appropriate age to give your daughter instagram? When you’re ok with her having anxiety and questioning her worth.
I almost felt like a lost cause because I’m older, and social media has done its damage on my life.
Social media destroyed me in so many ways
I deleted TikTok and my sleep schedule is back to normal
Social media has ruined my self confidence
I only post the very best pictures because I think I have to get hundreds of likes
It's Like A Prison. Please Help!
See hundreds more

Real stories from real teens

Stories like these will help change the system.

Thanks to Collin Kartchner for these stories and his important work.

Overwhelmed? Anxious? Can’t Focus?

We’re collecting stories to push for change. Have social media’s harmful effects impacted your life? Have you left social media? We want to hear from you.

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Facing food instability and homelessness, there were seemingly “small” images, videos, and advertisements in social media that I would see that would remind me over and over that I was different.

Juliana, 20, Tallahassee,United States
Juliana, 20, Tallahassee,United States
December 10, 2020
I’ve learned in my experiences of social media platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat that the way in which we define certain words matter. When I say that we “define words”, I don’t mean defining words by researching the Oxford definition. I mean that we, as a society, collectively agree to certain societal norms and standards that are directly reflected in our social media feeds. These definitions seep into our understanding of ourselves and our understanding of what society expects from us. As an example, when I was in high school, I had a sense of being different from others because I was forced to grow up fast. Facing food instability and homelessness, there were seemingly “small” images, videos, and advertisements in social media that I would see that would remind me over and over that I was different. I would see people going to proms, football games, and parties, while I was working late hours to support myself financially. I would see these images repeatedly to the point that I began to mentally differentiate myself from others based on their social media presence, rather than who they were as people. Rather than speaking with my peers about who they are and where they came from, I closed myself off from the conversation, assuming I knew them because everyone tells the truth on social media, right? The presence of social media while I was in high school very much heightened my sense of being an “outcast”. I truly believe that if these platforms were written with humanity in mind, social media could have been a beautiful place for me to get the social support that I needed. I needed to be reminded that I was loved, looked out for, and seen, rather than different, invisible, and alone. Now that I am out of high school, I do set clear boundaries with social media because I know how it impacts me. I delete the apps during the holidays, because it provides a false sense of everyone living out of a Christmas movie. I use the screen time feature that Apple provides and limit myself. Now that I set clear boundaries with my relationship with social media, I can define what a “home” means. I can define what my sense of “normalcy” is. Removing myself from the societal expectations and standards that social media suffocates me with allows for me to see the world for what it is: a beautiful place filled with people who have their own experiences that I can learn from, rather than a place where everyone is “living their best life” without struggle. Normalize adversity and authenticity in social media, rather than forcing us to pretend that our struggles do not exist. Thank you for listening.

Seeing a notification from him made my heart drop, since it was usually something terrifying, but I could never turn away.

Sophia, 15, Basking Ridge,USA
Sophia, 15, Basking Ridge,USA
December 10, 2020
When I was in 7th grade, someone who I thought was my best friend was emotionally abusive for over a year on Snapchat. He sent me videos of him self harming, would tell me he would commit suicide then not respond for hours to scare me, make me spend hours and hours of my energy to talk him off the ledge, and make me feel like I was never good enough to save him. Seeing a notification from him made my heart drop, since it was usually something terrifying, but I could never turn away. If I left him on open or on delivered, I was scared he would die. If I didn't spend all of my energy on typing pages and pages of chats trying to help him, I was scared he would die. The whole time I thought I was just being a good friend. This unmonitored exchange of Snapchats completely traumatized me and robbed me of my innocence, happiness, and trust in future friends. Since he lived far away, I thought Snapchat was the only way I could possibly keep this emotionally draining friendship, and since I was on Snapchat 24/7, I could never get away from him. I ended up ending our friendship because he threatened to kill my friend and her entire family lol, but I was left emotionally scarred, and this single friendship over Snapchat caused me myself to fall down a rabbit hole of depression, anxiety, OCD, suicidal ideation, and self harm. While the real person to blame was the friend, Snapchat's addictive layout and system of highs and lows set the emotional harm over the edge.

I'm tired of feeling like I'm dumb, not pretty enough, not rich enough, not popular enough, not everything enough

Lily, 20, Los Angeles,US
Lily, 20, Los Angeles,US
December 7, 2020
As someone who was in the 8th grade when Instagram first came out I remember it an innocent hub of photos, but it wasn't too far down the like that likes and followers were a big factor to your profile. I remember being in 8th grade and making excuses to my parents why I should make a Instagram, meanwhile I did have a facebook, my first experience with that being one for a school project. My parents at the time were not aware of Instagram and what it was about, I wish they didn't let me make an account but I was granted permission so I had two. fairly innocent, I would post random photos. fast forward high school and in and out of high school I am disabling my social media and getting back on it, constantly. I thought that me getting a flip phone would decrease my social media use but it didn't, I would use my brothers iPad. I see how people have all different perspectives of social media. but at the end of the day its a fake profile. I had to disable my social media this month after debating for a few months. I already knew when I had a social media account how different it feels when I don't have one, but I know the best thing to do is to not have one. I find myself educating myself more on what's going on all around. The thing is, that I've noticed among my generation is that social media is playing a huge part in allowing people to just follow the herd, and even though the people posting may feel like they are "woke" or "fighting the system" they are not open minded to understanding that there are people who may have a different opinion about things and that is okay, as humans we are all allowed to have different perspectives and understandings on certain issues, but when it comes to that Instagram story, if you were to post the slightest thing different from what everyone else posts, you get totally bashed for it. Social media is creating a generation of people who may think they are on the frontlines but in fact, sitting in the back not actually putting there posts to action. It is all about action. Social media is shaping the minds of our growing generation when we should be the ones to shape it ourselves. I am scared and I'm concerned about the depression, narcissistic, one sided perspectives our generation will start to have. I done think people understand that there is a world outside of there cell phone and there close circles. There is a whole world out there, what are we doing staring at a screen comparing ourselves to fakeness. I'm tired of feeling like I'm dumb, not pretty enough, not rich enough, not popular enough, not everything enough- that is all the illusion of social media. Ever since being off social media this time around I have taken the full detox, no tik tok, snapchat , Instagram face book, none of it. I am learning so many things about myself, what it means to be 20 and how these years are crucial to my growth as a human being on this earth. I think in the future there's going to be two types of people, those that 100% embrace all the factors of technology and those who may question it and those who choose to stick to reality, which means that we endure less dopamine to the brain than those who accept all the crazy wonders of technology. I have decided to use my brain, my skills, my personality and all things that make me in the real word. If I truly cared to talk to someone, or if someone truly cared to talk to me, we could just give each other a phone call or send a dang letter! It's not that hard, I hope more people my age grow to realize this. I am tired of having narcissistic friends that only care about taking selfies and getting likes.

The cake recipes sandwiched in between crash diets and messages to love yourself were disorienting.

Clare, 17, Dayton,United States
Clare, 17, Dayton,United States
December 7, 2020
When I was younger, in middle school, I made a conscious effort not to be on social media because I knew the effects it could have. Eventually though, I started to feel left behind, not only by my friends who were online, but I kept being told I needed to be on it if I wanted to get published as an author in the future. As I got older I realized this was no longer an individual choice I was allowed to make. It was how the world worked, and I would have to conform in order to get my work to a larger audience. The final straw was realizing I was already stuck in scrolling cycles, if it wasn't on social media yet it was on a news app or Buzzfeed, whatever I could find. when I finally caved I experienced the negative aspects first-hand. The cake recipes sandwiched in between crash diets and messages to love yourself were disorienting. Every time I saw a message that made me feel good I was two swipes away from one that wouldn't. I especially started to become invested in activism and politics, but social media adds a new layer of pressure. You must always be aware of the tragedies going on in the world and if you don't repost them then you clearly don't care. You can never be 'woke' enough, you're always saying something wrong, and you see the backlash from it, even from friends. I've noticed people are a lot more radical online, several of my friends have posted "If you support (insert political candidate) I will not associate with you." It's disappointing to see them not only make rash assumptions about other's beliefs in that way but to be openly propagating it. How can they ensure their assumptions are founded in reality if they aren't associating with these people? My friends don't mean this I'm sure, but that is the precise problem with the polarizing effects of social media. It would be best for me to remove social media altogether, but as I mentioned, it's necessary for networking, so I must learn to use social media more healthily. I only use Instagram and YouTube as opposed to other apps, which helps. I've written a research argumentative paper on the role of social media in polarization and radicalization, and am looking forward to working with the company LOG OFF in the future. In the paper, I argued for a governmental committee on the advancement of technology and the revision of Section 230, which is largely responsible for the way social media works today. There are, of course, fixes we can all make around screen time and who we follow, but young people will continue to get trapped in this hole we have to dig ourselves out of unless the laws start to change. The algorithms must change, otherwise, the problems we face now will only incur for the next generation.

I had a totally different persona on FB.

Gayathiri, 24, Kandy,Sri Lanka
Gayathiri, 24, Kandy,Sri Lanka
December 2, 2020
I don't even know where to begin. I created a facebook account when I was 19. I had a bad breakup and I was looking for ways to distract myself and facebook gave me the best platform to do that. I was in facebook all day along and eventually I facebook started determining my self worth. If someone comments on my post or messages me it will make me feel good. If my posts didn't get enough likes I would feel down. I started to get into fights with people over comments - the typical comment wars. I had a totally different persona on FB. It looked like I am an unapproachable rude person even though I am a humble person in real life. My fb contacts from university started perceiving me as my FB persona. It affected my self esteem a great deal. I felt awkward and shy to start a conversation with a new person. Where ever I went in campus I started to worry and wonder, who knows me and what they thought about me. I deleted my facebook account in last June and I feel really better. My self esteem has improved a great deal and I am really content, without knowing who got into relationship with whom and not getting into comment wars. People are taking social media way too serious. Yet again, when you enter into it, you get lost into a different kind of world that sucks you into it.

I remember one night specifically that was probably when I was at my peak of using that app when I just caught myself using it for a couple of hours without stopping...

siri, 13, Cary,United States
siri, 13, Cary,United States
December 2, 2020
I downloaded TikTok for a short period of time out of peer pressure because all my friends had it and I wanted to see what it was like. I became addicted to it after a while and I remember just using it all day every day as much as I could. I remember one night specifically that was probably when I was at my peak of using that app when I just caught myself using it for a couple of hours without stopping, I just had this feeling of fear come over me as I realized that I was addicted to the app and without thinking about it I just deleted the app from my phone before I could second guess myself. I never got the app again nor did I get any other social media and I'm so so grateful for that decision. All of my other friends have Instagram and Tiktok and Snapchat and all of the other apps and I can really see how it affects them and how much they use it, I try to get them to use it less but it's hard and I really do think change needs to happen within the companies themselves in order to get this to stop.

...we specifically learned different ways to keep users “hooked” to products and platforms by means of psychology.

Alexandria, 23, Deltona,United States
Alexandria, 23, Deltona,United States
December 2, 2020
I’m getting my Master’s Degree in Mass Communications and Social Media (yes, social media), and will be graduating in December. I’ve absolutely loved the program thus far, and have learned more about the communications field and social media than I ever could have imagined. There have been many moments during the past year where I’ve felt so excited and hopeful about the field and the opportunities it brings. There have also been moments where I’ve felt uncertain about the field, even considering my own personal journey and realizations with social media. Beyond the intended benefits of connection and accessibility, I was seeing a toxicity from social media in my own life and the lives of the people around me. I began to fight this ethical battle in my head around the idea of someday contributing to the growth of toxicity in the field, or even just having to submerge myself in it for an income. In my Emerging Technologies class, we specifically learned different ways to keep users “hooked” to products and platforms by means of psychology. It was interesting from a creative and technical lens, but incredibly terrifying from the view of the consumer. I was suddenly realizing all of the methods and techniques that I was falling prey to, in a negative way. Later that semester, my professor assigned a reflection paper, and one of the questions was “are you excited about the emergence of technology and social media?”. To put simply, I wrote, “no, I’m not. In fact, I’m terrified. I see the benefits of connection and accessibility from both mediums, but I cannot ignore the impending negative impacts. When will it stop feeding us tailored information? When will it stop using our data for monetization? When will it stop affecting our mental health? I don’t know that it ever will”. I was expecting to get points taken off for my rant, but instead was met with an overwhelmingly agreeable response. I wasn’t the only one feeling this way about social media. I wasn’t the only one considering deleting every single app off my phone despite paying thousands of dollars for a master’s degree in the field. I wasn’t the only one seeing the problems that needed fixing in the industry. But that didn’t make me feel any better. There wasn’t some weight that lifted off my shoulders in learning I wasn’t alone. If anything, it added more pounds onto whatever weight I was carrying in the first place. Then I watched The Social Dilemma on Netflix. I obviously wasn’t met with any ease or calmness regarding my concerns with social media. However, seeing the former CEOs and Presidents of various social media platforms explaining their own frustrations with some of the systems they even helped to create gave me some much needed perspective. We are allowed, in fact encouraged, to be critical of the things we’re involved in or passionate about. Tristan Harris didn’t quit the field knowing what he knows; instead he remains in the field with hopes of fixing it. Fixing it starts with our own habits, and how we choose to be affected by the industry as consumers and contributors. Let’s limit our screen time. Let’s turn off our phones at night. Let’s turn off notifications for “who posted” or “who liked” and everything else that doesn’t matter. Let’s be intentional in our interactions beyond the phone screen. Let’s work to stop rewarding companies who use us as products with our time. Let’s acknowledge that we do not have to “cancel” social media to make it less toxic; instead we can work to make strides to steer the industry towards the way of positive growth for everyone. As I approach my (virtual) graduation and continue applying for jobs, I am keeping my ethics and desire to change this fragile and increasingly toxic industry at the forefront. While I see the obvious benefits of my industry and the many opportunities it provides for accessibility, growth, and connectivity, I also see the benefits of change and renovation as it pertains to ethics, health, and safety.

I have disabled my account for months on end and feel GREAT and productive and free without the app. However, as soon as I get it back I fall back into my old ways.

Ana, 20, Elizabethtown,United States
Ana, 20, Elizabethtown,United States
December 2, 2020
My experience on social media has always been very love hate. I have a very hard time getting off Instagram when I need work to be done. I cannot help but waste hours on the explore page and watching people's stories. In an effort to stop my time wastage on the app, I have used time limits and unfollowed almost 200 of the 400 people I follow. Still, I find it very hard to get off. On top of that, the app definitely shows a false sense of reality. I feel bad after being on the app, as if I am missing out on something important and that people look better than me. With the being said, I am still a very happy person and thankfully this does not affect me deeply, but I think that's the case because I limit myself so much. I have disabled my account for months on end and feel GREAT and productive and free without the app. However, as soon as I get it back I fall back into my old ways. I would get it back with the excuse that I need it to stay up-to-date on school events. With COVID there is not much going on and I graduate in a semester. So I disabled my account for good. I won't get rid of it in case I need it for school but I wish I was able to just let it go altogether. I started Instagram when I was 16 so not that young, but I still have a hard time letting it go. I barely post but use it for the explore page and looking up people. I always and still to this day feel that without an Instagram account you are seen as weird or introverted. I feel that if I do not have an Instagram I am the odd one out. I wish I never made one in the first place, I have never gotten any direct benefits from the app. It just clutters my brain and causes negative affects. I also have the pressure of having to keep up with DMs from friends. I do not want to have to constantly check and respond to their images and videos they share. I don't like the expectation of having to like someone's post or view their story. I literally do not care about 95% of the people I follow nor do I see them with or without COVID, but I still "have" to follow them. I am so excited to actually let it go and connect with my family and real friends more. I am so happy for this movement and hope that many people realize that Instagram isn't that important and is actually a waste of time.

Sometimes I feel like I can't tell the difference between the image and my life...

Heather, 17, Montréal,Canada
Heather, 17, Montréal,Canada
December 2, 2020
Last night, I compared myself to different models and couples on Instagram. Then I went to look for the meaning or definition in psychology on why I need to compare myself to others? And I felt sadness, my self-esteem was at its lowest, these images are ideological, the things that are no longer fashionable, the problems of buttons, and indirectly I feel influenced by all that. And that influences my conversations with my friends. By talking about it with my close friends, I decided to uninstall my account. I decided to just uninstall without disconnecting my account to start. To keep consistency. Sometimes I feel like I can't tell the difference between the image and my life, and I remembered a comment from my big sister who told me that she had a clothing style influenced by networks. While my best friend was talking to me, I noticed that she adopted the same style that we find in some videos we see on Tik-Tok, it is so above us, we have very little latitude I find that a lot of young people post quotes about the right way of life. And that is completely wrong, that is not at all our reality. Many famous people publish quotes and young people take examples on it, it is serious.

I realized I was becoming more hateful and less open minded.

Madison, 23, Louisville,United States
Madison, 23, Louisville,United States
December 2, 2020
I deleted my favorite app TikTok last month. I spent hours upon hours everyday on the app. As a young Democrat, I only saw liberal messages and content creators on my FYP. I stopped seeing a conservation. Instead, it was an echo chamber of the same ideas. You stop viewing the other side with humanity if you never see or hear from them. I realized I was becoming more hateful and less open minded. After watching the Social Dilemma, I realized why. The algorithm only showed me content it thought I would like, ie liberal content. A light bulb flicked on in my head, and I immediately deleted all of my social media. I haven’t looked back, and I don’t miss it nearly as much as I thought I would.

What I've noticed is that TikTok has become a life-consuming obsession among young kids. Kids that aren't even in their teenage years yet, are glued to their phone screens 24/7.

Denise, 21, Weston,United States
Denise, 21, Weston,United States
December 2, 2020
I'm a child caretaker currently working for a family in Connecticut. Generally I work with younger kids, but recently I joined a family with teenagers. I won't describe any further details for the sake of their privacy. What I've noticed is that TikTok has become a life-consuming obsession among young kids. Kids that aren't even in their teenage years yet, are glued to their phone screens 24/7. Some kids have admitted that they are addicted, they spend 14+ hours on social media in a day. Yet, when asked what's interesting about TikTok, they struggle to formulate an answer. It's impossible to have even a 5min conversation with them without them losing their focus and continuing their endless scroll. How does this impact their attention span? How does it impact their ability to have human conversations? I don't think we can even comprehend the full extent of damage that is being inflicted on their minds by allowing them to be so consumed by these online realms. Another growing concern is how fake news is impacting the younger generations. These stories are being forced on them through social media, misguiding their entire perception of the world they live in. All young children are naive by nature and will believe nearly anything they're exposed to without the consideration of getting a better idea of the bigger picture at hand. I think it's amazing how readily available such a broad scope of information has become through these online portals, but it's important that the information we receive is received with intentionality. We're all forcedly exposed to a one-sided perception of national and global activity due to targeted news and ads. We're robbed of the chance to know the TRUE FACTS of both sides of an argument, because we are limited to what the online portals think we should know instead of what we actually should know. I'm terribly afraid of how this addiction to technology and social media is impacting the younger generations. Not just today, but when these kids have grown to become the leaders of the world. I think that anyone with access to the internet and any social media channels should be well educated about what happens to the data that is taken from our interactions with the web. Why are the Big Tech companies so reluctant to share with us exactly what they use our data for? And more importantly, what data are they actually scraping from our interactions with their sites? If these companies are going to monopolize industries the way they have, and gain such value, we need to be much more aware of how we are really contributing to their scale and value. And why exactly their overtaking of these industries are causing a drastic increase in inequality.

I realize I now have this unproductive habit of mindlessly scrolling through these pretty pictures, which is something I never used to do.

Abrielle, 25, Winter Park,United States
Abrielle, 25, Winter Park,United States
December 2, 2020
I started my social media experience back in middle school (2008-2009) on MySpace, spending my free time checking on friends, doing bulletin board surveys, and learning to code in HTML to customize my page. After MySpace, I moved to Facebook in high school (2009-2013), I got sucked in more to what people thought of me, what I was being tagged in, liking pages, getting likes on my photos... I was sick of it, so I deactivated my profile when I graduated. I joined Instagram in the summer of 2013. At first, it was similar to Snapchat and Facebook; I used it to communicate with friends and see what they were up to. Then I started following cool travel pages, celebrities, movements, news sites... and I find myself with a feed of pretty pictures from people I don’t even know. I realize I now have this unproductive habit of mindlessly scrolling through these pretty pictures, which is something I never used to do. I’ve thought about deleting my Instagram, but I instead want to re-evaluate my use of it. I’ve turned off all notifications and I’ve begun a huge unfollowing spree for those accounts of people and groups I don’t know. I find it useless to be spending time staring at photos of beautiful places when I could instead be earning money to get myself there. I find it useless to be staring at beautiful women who I know are fake or portraying themselves in the best light they can find, looking at myself as inferior when I know the great shape I am in. Come to find out (big surprise), likes or comments on a photo do not affect my real life, and spending time focusing on them is a waste. I’ve put my phone in grayscale mode so that it’s not as pretty to look at, and I’m finding that I get sucked into those scrolling traps less. If I were to identify a specific problem, it’s the culture of influencers we’ve built and given our attention to. Travel influencers, fitness influencers, food influencers... pages to follow, scroll through, and mindlessly get lost in while letting all of our other responsibilities fall to the side. We find ourselves without enough time in the day, but never complain about the loads of meaningless funny videos we spend an hour watching and sharing (taking other people’s time from them). I want to unfollow all influencers. I only want to see my friends and people I know on my timeline, and then I want to make the conscious decision to check on them when I want to — NOT get trapped into scrolling through all of them. I would rather participate in a social media service without “Pages to Follow” like Facebook and without Influencers like Instagram. Mindless phone scrolling is the dumbest pastime that does absolutely nothing besides make us yearn for things we aren’t or don’t have. When I’m with my significant other, I don’t feel the need to touch my phone ALL day. It just proves it’s a habit based in boredom that breeds lower productivity. I hate it. I feel much better and more in control with my phone in grayscale mode and by following less accounts I don’t know. I have implemented time restraints of 30 minutes per day for my Instagram. I am inclined to reduce that to 15 minutes. I want to use the platforms to connect with my friends and that’s all. Share photos with my friends, not care about likes, and that’s ALL. All I want is an environment that facilitates that.

I didn't sign up for it, and yet here I am 12-ish years later trying to undo things that are inevitably fundamental to who I am.

Annika, 20, Pasig City,Philippines
Annika, 20, Pasig City,Philippines
December 2, 2020
I literally grew up with social media. Some of my earliest vivid memories are trying to figure out how I could get make a Multiply account despite being way underage. I spent many pre-teen summers playing pet society and farmville, or on youtube watching random videos. As the internet developed, so did I. I never really realized how detrimental it was to me or my mental health. Looking back, it was probably because my generation's parents were learning how to use technology at the same time. At that point, no one really understood how much it could actually do. Every kid was on social media then because it wasn't a huge deal, it was just like getting a new toy. While I do love that I grew up on social media so I get to look back at so many wonderful memories, that also means that I watched firsthand as it grew to be such a vile place. What used to be wholesome photos, statuses, and games became a cause for outrageous fighting between creators, and divisive moral, political, and religious rhetoric. I became more conscious of my social media use as I entered college, but it never really bothered me until I started looking at my screen time. Even now during the pandemic, I'd feel so ashamed about how much time I'd be on my devices if you combined my laptop, ipad and, phone. The social dilemma and discovering CHT's work, made me feel seen but also incredibly frustrated. I felt trapped because social media was hardwired into my brain as it developed when I was a kid. I didn't sign up for it, and yet here I am 12-ish years later trying to undo things that are inevitably fundamental to who I am. I started with little things like deleting some apps on my phone and ipad, as well as turning off notifications and trying to follow downtime more responsibly. The pandemic has made it really difficult to become responsible social media user, especially as a college senior with tons of extracurriculars. How can you lessen screen time when your entire window to the world is through your screen? Despite all that, I'm pretty hopeful that I'll eventually be able to have ownership of my social media use. Until then, the discomfort of not having notifications or youtube recommendations will have to do.

...way too often I find the unconscious part of my brain instinctively clicking on snapchat and just wasting away time.

Nathan, 20, Troy,
Nathan, 20, Troy,
December 2, 2020
When I think of social media, the first thing that comes to my head is how it lowers the quality of my in-person interactions with friends and family. Countless times this has happened where me and my friends go out to eat which requires carving out time from our busy routines to see each other. However, when we are actually standing in front of each other physically, no one is actually mentally there in the moment trying to enjoy the rare face to face encounter with the people we love. Instead, we're mentally consumed by something that could literally be done at any other time of the day -- scrolling through snapchat or Instagram stories. This doesn't make sense -- we made the plans to hang out and enjoy each other's company, so why are we using social media? Clearly, social media is designed in a way to make us crave it, need it, and unconsciously turn to it in moments where it wouldn't make sense to do so. Granted, this is something that I struggle with as well, which is extremely troubling since I think about this problem a lot -- imagine the people who are manipulated by this but don't notice the problem. Yet, way too often I find the unconscious part of my brain instinctively clicking on snapchat and just wasting away time. Our technology and social media can NOT be designed to manipulate and warp our unconscious behavior and decisions. This is seen first and foremost when even intentions to be present and enjoy the in person company of one another are defeated by the addictiveness of these platforms. I've found that only solution is to make it impossible for oneself to check social media -- shutting off phone, leaving phone at home, etc. Instead, the platforms should be designed with the intent of enriching our in-person lives, not warping our subconscious to crave acceptance and likes on the virtual platforms. At the very least, I think there should be a feature that detects how long you've been on the app, and forcing you to get off the app after an extended period of time. Personally, I have a snapchat addiction, and even though I feel unproductive and left out scrolling through snapchat stories and seeing what other people are doing (which I subconsciously look at when I have downtime). Yet, I can't just delete the app as a whole, since I communicate with my friends on the app, which I actually gain a lot of value from. I think there should be an option to opt out of the snapchat stories page, since that is not my intention to use that feature on the app. Yet, for me it has grasped the unconscious part of my brain and I find myself wasting time there. This deeply saddens me to be the generation this platform is tested on. While social media fuels our egos with likes and superficial attention, people are miserable standing in front of one another. I often times wonder what it would've been like to live 10 years ago. I wonder if I would be able to deepen my bonds with my friends and family, the people I love most, which is ultimately what really matters to in life -- not likes on social media. Through my experience, It's upsetting to feel the negative effects of social media. It's flat out immoral to create a product that warps our subconscious minds, which directly affects the connections we make with people in real life.

My anxiety is spiking when I sit there and wait on people to like my stuff.

Lea, 21, Los Angeles,
Lea, 21, Los Angeles,
December 2, 2020
So I have two experiences to share that both occured on instagram. I follow a lot of feminist and activist accounts. While I just wanted to support marginalised communities I have been vilified in the comments because people misunderstood me. One time I was accused of being homophobic even though I wanted to do the opposite with my comment and uplift the lgbtq+-community. I don't like being vilified for something I never said but I also know that sometimes it isn't worth it to fight with strangers about your moral opinions. The second experience I want to share is that because of post anxiety I can't post something on there except stories. I get so invested in how many likes I get that I just stopped posting except instagram stories. My anxiety is spiking when I sit there and wait on people to like my stuff. I've also come to an agreement with myself that I don't want to lie about my personal life so I'll never post anything personal because I don't wanna seem egocentric. I just made it my goal to uplift marginalised communities and voices. That's how I made peace with the craziness of social media.

After using it for 2 months I started feeling mentally disturbed as I felt self doubt, jealousy and anxious looking at various post of my friends on insta

Yash, 21, Nashik,India
Yash, 21, Nashik,India
December 2, 2020
It was 2018 when I was in my first year of under graduation and I signed up on instagram...... After using it for 2 months I started feeling mentally disturbed as I felt self doubt, jealousy and anxious looking at various post of my friends on insta.....i used to compare myself to others for looks and followers and began hating myself.... I cried too sometimes about it.... So I started to unfollow people whose post induced negative feelings in my heart and also muted off the notifications of instagram ..... This Went for like 2 years and it was very hard for me to resist to not open the app....I even tried to disable my account but couldn't resist the urge to recover my account.... I asked myself why was I using insta.... It was taking toll on me as I felt like I m in prison so I deleted my insta account after lot of thought and hesitation ..... After deletion of my insta account , I felt so happy and started loving myself without comparing myself to others.... I started taking care of myself and my heart felt so free..... I stared focussing on my hobbies and work instead of worrying about my number of followers and feeling jealous about number of likes and comments on other ppl posts ........ This has been one of the best decisions of my life ..... Take care

My focus has drastically dropped using these technologies. I couldn't even focus on a thing for more than 5 mins.

Harsha, 19, Guntur,India
Harsha, 19, Guntur,India
December 2, 2020
Soo social media started to me when I was young only around 14 years I have had my Facebook first then but later on it didn't really affect me that much cause I didn't used to care about it that much but later on days passed by now I'm 19 years old and in this 2020 year I felt that I was in addiction with my smartphone I was using my phone around more or less 5 hours a single day and 8+ hrs in some days that has been a wake-up call for me so from then I tried multiple things to quit social media and smartphone use tried removing apps but eventually I started finding other ways to use my phone again and again at this point now I am addicted to Instagram I was using it for 2+hrs in a single day for mostly messaging and memes and mindless scrolling..... Later I realized that I am also addicted to YouTube. I was watching mindless videos every day.. (My focus has drastically dropped using these technologies. I couldn't even focus on a thing for more than 5 mins & My relationships also not so good using this tech) Then I tried using a not soo smartphone recently only and very basic phone which can be used for calls, messaging, WhatsApp. only and the best thing is the battery in that phone only lasts around 1.5 hours only so I know the things that I want to focus on. (Tried Siempo launcher it's the best one.) then after a week of changing my smartphone to a basic android phone now my screentime is less than 2 hours. I don't have any regrets about changing my smartphone to an old basic android phone. The problem is with the apps and till date now I feel like checking my Instagram around 10 mins a day but didn't felt the urge that i used to and siempo doesn't let me use more than 5 mins... My small advice to people is that just try to live in this moment.. Our parents don't have this technology but they are happy and they have better relations than ours. (Instagram is not worth the time that you spent on it.) Thank you Centre for humantech for giving a wakeup call to me and the people in this movement. Special thanks to (Team Siempo.)

My morning time ritual became an afternoon ritual to a night ritual, to an all day ritual where I would habitually check my phone every hour, eagerly waiting for the next notification to come in.

Sam, 18, New York City,
Sam, 18, New York City,
December 2, 2020
Social media had always been in the background for me. Something to check to in-between classes, whenever I was bored, and before I went to sleep. Then, quarantine hit, and I graduated from high school. Quarantine meant being bored 24/7 which meant my social media usage went up, up, up. And upon graduating high school, I started becoming aware that I had to start upping my game to get experiences on my resume, and in order to get experiences on my resume, I had to go out and find them. So I joined a bunch of Facebook groups, discord servers, slack channels, and subreddits. What resulted was a ritual which occurred several times a day where I would first check my iCloud email, then my gmails, then linkedin, then reddit, then Facebook, then discord, then Slack, and then, of course Instagram. Over the course of quarantine I became addicted to my phone and checking every single notification that came through, because you never knew what kind of opportunities I could miss out on if I missed a single notification. My morning time ritual became an afternoon ritual to a night ritual, to an all day ritual where I would habitually check my phone every hour, eagerly waiting for the next notification to come in. I’m currently trying to curb my usage, but I’ll be honest, it’s hard. Especially because the truth is you can’t find good opportunities without the resources online. But I’m trying. It’s going to take a long long journey for me to stop feeling phantom notifications and constantly refreshing my feed...

There were many times I fell into that common spiral of comparing my life to that of the glitz and glamour I saw on-screen.

Chanel, 25, Santa Barbara,USA
Chanel, 25, Santa Barbara,USA
December 2, 2020
Social media... Where to start? There were many times I fell into that common spiral of comparing my life to that of the glitz and glamour I saw on-screen. I've lost a cousin to suicide who I would've never guessed had depression because of what he posted. I've also had to endure the harmful effects of cyberbullying, the constant validation-seeking and "needing-to-prove" mentality, and so on. While both experiences affected me greatly, they opened up my eyes to the bigger picture: What we see on the Internet is not always what's happening in reality; It's just a fraction. In order for my experiences on social media to feel more fulfilling and positive, I started working towards using it less. Eventually, I found myself only keeping up with those I maintained connections with. I deleted my Facebook account in 2018 and always went back to Twitter but finally deleted it this year after seeing a bunch of political debate that often looked like unhealthy arguments. Something that I also do often and consciously so is de-cluttering my Instagram feed every once in awhile. That meant following accounts that were good for my mental health, and unfollowing a number of other accounts. Over time, social media become more of a fun and creative outlet. It's been a more authentic, intimate experience. Having a healthier relationship with social media makes life easy, relieves social pressure, and also allows me to genuinely connect with those I care about and care about me. These days, mental health issues are on the rise and social media usage is making it hard to live life. Some platforms are so addictive that it's hard to maintain self-awareness and have control. I think it's important it is to separate digital worlds from the life that's unfolding right in front of us. True human connection is what the world needs now more than ever. I hope that the industry can becomes healthier for society's sake, and that people don't have to experience the harmful effects before they take it upon themselves to change their habits.

It made me feel overstimulated, like I had wasted hours of my time for nothing...

Dalton, 24, Manchester,United Kingdom
Dalton, 24, Manchester,United Kingdom
December 2, 2020
Since I was born in the late 90s, like many others we had a time in our childhood where there wasn't any phones or social media. With that said, I was a teenager when iphones came out and I observed social media and the act of being online grow and grow. I realized early on that I didn't feel good when I used social media, I must've been around 17 (2013). I deleted all my social media. It made me feel overstimulated, like i had wasted hours of my time for nothing, and when i rejected social media (but kept facebook) I got criticism from my friends and family. At that point I saw how much social media was manipulating even the opinions of people around me. I really felt like this addiction to social media, which was so casually and socially accepted, was growing so much that there has to be a breaking point! And I'm so happy people are waking up and seeing how much it's hurting ourselves and the people we love and care about. I believe in the next 10 years things will look VERY different and it will be more humane!!!!! <3

There used to be such freedom in the way that we behaved as kids, and now people were obsessing over likes and hearts and everything.

Amanda, 19, Sydney,Australia
Amanda, 19, Sydney,Australia
December 2, 2020
I got on social media around high school, and I saw people become more distant because of it. There used to be such freedom in the way that we behaved as kids, and now people were obsessing over likes and hearts and everything. For me using social media like Facebook made me feel terrible and self-conscious, and I'd compare myself constantly to the lives of friends. Asking myself, why isn't my life as cool as theirs? Why are they so much more popular than me? It was really bad for my mental health. Along with that I used Instagram and Twitter, and over time my attention span got completely decimated - I was so used to short posts I'd look at for 2-3 seconds, that I couldn't even focus on anything for a long period of time anymore. Twitter was good at first but around 2016 onwards it just became a cesspool of hate, criticism, and negativity. I couldn't believe it when I saw people wishing death upon others even when the topic was like, video games or something. There was a time I went on holiday with a friend from primary school, we were basically best friends. She didn't get off her phone the whole time! It was like the relationship had been replaced by a digital device, and I notice it with even couples who are dating who literally don't even look at each other, they look at their phones. The one thing that really sickens me is I have always been a creative person, obsessed with music and drawing and writing. I went from reading 30 books a day as a kid to not being able to read the first few paragraphs. My brain felt like it'd been hijacked. I've deactivated my insta, facebook and twitter and I still use reddit and youtube - I got rid of the recommendations though. Ever since 2012 I felt like the world was going insane and I couldn't figure out why. People seemed more stressed, more anxious, self-conscious. Things felt like they were going bad all at once, and the 24/7 cycle makes the world's problems seem right outside our bedroom door. I used to love OG facebook and youtube. They were so cool. But lately I've been wondering about the price we had to pay.

I began to be aware that I was believing things that... didn't exist.

Jasper, 24, Cape Town,South Africa
Jasper, 24, Cape Town,South Africa
December 2, 2020
Both Facebook and Reddit were the worst. Facebook was an endless scrolling distraction, removing me from myself, making me watch more and more far right content, and distracting me from my friends, family and work. I despised it, and decided that I should try to live without it - but I still had Reddit. Reddit was okay? Surely? It was a way to get the newest information about the world? So was Youtube? They were just videos. How wrong I was. Firstly; Reddit became a balm for my social anxieties, and paradoxically, also a stimulant of them. There you can frolic and get drunk on the syrup of humour, new information and the illusion of debate and community. Meanwhile you get slowly sucked in, spending more and more time on it. I began to be aware that I was believing things that...didn't exist. Or they did exist, it just felt more and more like a cult, a group of anger and not support. I found that strain of outrage and anger in all my communities - I tried to take a break, but would be dragged willingly to gorge on the dopamine rush, the faerie food of reddit. Youtube is the same; I began to watch more right things - "the intellectual dark web" slowly stepping onto more and more anger and outrage and "common sense." I tried just "unliking" all the video I saw. That did not work. Then I began using blocking apps to stop recommendations, and only show subscriptions, and limit my time on Youtube. Facebook, Youtube and Reddit all led to a warped image of who I was, of what I was worth. Youtube and reddit fed into each other and led to an echo chamber, which led to a depression. After that I tried everything to stop myself being on any social media - I feel a lot happier.

The day I graduated from college, I uploaded an Instagram post sharing the news with my network, only to realize a few hours later that I was checking how many like I got.

Bautista, 24, Buenos Aires,Argentina
Bautista, 24, Buenos Aires,Argentina
December 2, 2020
After several months of feeling uneasy with social media, I reached my turning point 3 years ago and never ever looked back. The day I graduated from college, I uploaded an Instagram post sharing the news with my network, only to realize a few hours later that I was checking how many like I got. At that moment, I said to myself "How is it possible that after 4 years of hard work and studying, I'm paying more attention to the count of likes instead of being innerly satisfied with the goal accomplished and the closure of an important stage in life?". After that, I stopped using all my social media accounts (Instagram, Facebook and Linkedin) and continued to see more and more downsides of the apps I used, specially in those around me. Once you quit, you really see how addicted people have become to their phones and social accounts. It's as if a cloud had been lifted from my sight. My attention came back to focus and I could reconnect with the real world, real interactions and real bonding with people. All in all, if social media doesn't make your daily life happier, what's the point in having them at all?

Instagram was making me hate myself and made me want to be someone I wasn't.

Jay, 21, Garfield,United States
Jay, 21, Garfield,United States
December 2, 2020
I used to be on Instagram a lot, but at the age of about 15 or 16, I realized what it was doing to me. I realized it was making me feel bad about myself and having major fomo. It made kinda depressed so I decided to take the first step and not cave into the network effect where I feel like I have to have it to stay connected with people. I found that if people are meaningful enough they would connect with me in whichever way is comfortable. Instagram was making me hate myself and made me want to be someone I wasn't. I'm glad I realized its impact on me at an early age and stay away from social media for months. I did go back eventually, but this time I stopped posting because I didn't want to make others feel bad. Then just recently after social dilemma, I decided to unfollow everyone who wasn't close to me and now my feed mainly composes of funny videos which is why I mainly use it. When looking at social media from the outside in, you can see the deliberate steps that companies have taken to ensure you stay on their platform and pay attention to it. I truly believe that social media is not good for society, at least the way it is currently being represented. I think after social dilemma, the next documentary should be about dating apps, because they are pretty great at making some people feel really bad about themselves and making others feel great. Also the way they are marketed, it almost makes you feel like that is the only way to actually meet someone. Linked in also makes you feel bad about your career but I still use it just for the profile for recruiters. Wish that didn't feel like the only way either.

I got addicted, always checking my phone, obsessed with keeping my streaks, worrying that someone needed my attention 24/7.

Dasani, 16, Phoenix,United States
Dasani, 16, Phoenix,United States
December 2, 2020
There's been real tension in my household lately, and social media has been my sort of coping mechanism. When I felt alone and hopeless, I could just scroll through instagram and not feel like crying anymore. I've never been allowed to go out much, so when I felt disconnected with my friends, I just spread my face across snapchat so I could talk to new people. I got addicted, always checking my phone, obsessed with keeping my streaks, worrying that someone needed my attention 24/7. I thought that was great to be needed, interested in, and meeting interesting people, until some of those people started asking things of me that I'm not comfortable with. Disconnected once again, I deleted snap and went back to my default scroll. Then I watched the social dilemma and really got to see that I wasn't the only one having these types of problems. I started to limit my screen time, schedule my days according to online school, pick up other hobbies I haven't done in a while like drawing, being part of the church choir, ect. I still don't have the best social life, but at least I'm spending my time alone productively.

I saw myself declining into a black hole of frustration and loneliness because of all the Instagram stories and posts.

Hannah, 18, Kemaman,Malaysia
Hannah, 18, Kemaman,Malaysia
December 2, 2020
It was in the earliest stage of lockdown in my country, it was the month of April. I wasn’t living in the best moment of my life. I had my final exams results and I wasn’t eligible to get a scholarship. It was very frustrating to me because it’s my dream to study overseas and that was the only way without emptying my parents’ bank accounts. What happened later when I was scrolling my Instagram, there were hundreds of posts from my friends about them getting all A’s in the exam, celebrating with friends and family, received new things and I realized I was very jealous and felt really really lonely and kinda depressing with my achievements. “Why am i so stupid?” I asked myself. It’s been days and I saw myself declining into a black hole of frustration and loneliness because of all the Instagram stories and posts. Then, I listened to a podcast and that person recommended to their listeners to watch a new documentary on Netflix. The Social Dilemma. After I watched the documentary, I quickly knew that Instagram was very toxic to me at that moment. That’s why I took a break from social media, mainly twitter and Instagram. It’s like a situation where I need to disconnect to connect with myself.....again. I was so lost with the jealousy I felt and how it made me hate myself so bad. I disconnected from my social media accounts for a month and spent more time with myself, family and my close friends through messaging. Fast-forward a month, I decided that I’ll put myself back into the world where it’s just one tap away to connect with others and I did make some changes. I turned off my notifications for everything except my messages. Well I am proud to say that my life does improving A LOT after the break. I rarely use my phone now. Some days, my phone can get up to 3 days without charging because that’s how rarely i use my phone now. Social media is not everything. We must learn when to get some rest from it. We should also learn to stop sharing everything on social media, we don’t know what people will do with these information we choose to share. It’s better to share it with our inner circle and maybe share some of our general events that happens in our lives.

Nearly half of my day goes just into doom scrolling Twitter, Reddit and YouTube.

Jagadesh Ram, 22, Chennai,India
Jagadesh Ram, 22, Chennai,India
December 2, 2020
Nearly half of my day goes just into doom scrolling twitter, reddit and youtube. these are the three apps which am using currently since when i heard about the Cambridge analytica, the next hour after watching Chris wylie video on guardian youtube channel, i immediately deactivated my facebook account and started using Instagram and got way addicted than i was with facebook. This went on for a while and started seeing ads that crawled with me all along with the internet. one day me and friends were talking about buying a product which will be useful for us in the winter season and suddenly, the same exact product from the exact company which we were discussing about earlier popped up on my youtube ads. this was way weird and i started noticing every single detail of this ads creeping with me since am a front end developer and i know how ad sense works. but this was way weird since we were just talking about it and i have never searched on the internet for it. After few hours the same ads pops in my Instagram feed and i was like "what the f*** is happening". after a while my friend who was with me at that time faced the same thing in his Instagram feed. Right now everyone who was connected with same wifi in that room admitted that they were also seeing the same ad within hours after the i experienced it. So, i was convinced that there is a shared data log not just within facebook and Instagram, it was with different companies like youtube and instagram. soon after that i started deleted my instagram and found signal app much more convincing for my privacy issues. and till now i happily using signal as primary driver for communication. But this void was quickly filled with twitter and reddit. both never really were as intrusive as the facebook or instagram but now my addiction for social media is getting way more out of my control. When i came to know about the social dilemma movie, i knew hands down that this is going to make some tides in the tech community. the day after it came out on Netflix i watched it right away in the middle of my office hours as it was more important to me to cure this addiction i feel towards using social media. Now i feel way more stronger and brave to speak out something that i felt all these years. Thanks to tristan harris for noticing this evil trend and calling out everyone.

I have good friends here, who are Bengali, and who are least bothered by my identity and consider me their friend, but in Facebook it's a different reality.

Anjana, 23, Midnapore,India
Anjana, 23, Midnapore,India
December 2, 2020
Hi, I am Anjana, 23, currently pursuing my masters' in physics. I belong to a community called 'santal', ( often referred to as Schedule Tribe or ST catagory) who speak 'santhali'. Although I was born and brought up here, among the Bangalees, who speak Bengali. I also speak Bengali. 1. Recently, my dad joined a WhatsApp group, where someone shared a post, with a photo of someone saying, ' all the santhals should be thrown out of the state, because they don't belong here'. Now, 'Santhal' or sometimes called, 'Adivasi', are considered to be indigenous people of India. Although, there is some conflict regarding this and some believe we don't own any land here and therefore, it is not a place for us to stay. Also students belonging to ST catagory are given reservation in pursuing their higher education, for being economically backward mostly, in any institutions across India. So when I saw the post, I felt disturbed. I have good friends here , who are Bengali, and who are least bothered by my identity and consider me their friend but in Facebook it's a different reality. And I am not even on Facebook, yet these hate messages can reach me and altering me view as how I am perceived by people around me. I have noticed, I am growing self conscious while talking to anybody , trying to figure out whether person I am talking to, hates me or not? Or, how he sees me? As just another human being or someone from the ' different ' community? As we are offered some relaxation, some say we are not worthy of what we achieve, as it is given to us and that generates hate among them. And these kind of posts online are fanning the flames. I am worried if I go out tomorrow who knows, what kind of backlash I have to face! I want to be alive and live a good life but seeing such things puts a doubt. I have deleted it from my dad's phone but the damage has already been done. This person could have reported this post instead what he did is sharing it with another 10 people and helped spreading it more. How do we stop that? 2. I got my first smart phone in my first year of college and by the end of graduation I was already struggling with my you tube addiction. It cost me my health, both mental and physical and also affected my studies. My grades started falling, I was in a rut, sleeping 10- 12 hours a day and always felt so tired. I was constantly on my phone, checking out new videos and scrolling. It changed my eating habits, I started skipping meals and sometimes dinners. Even when I ate I ended up throwing every now and then. I was ill often and decided to stay with my family and get tratment. It took me a while to recover and pinpoint the reason which was causing all of these. In expense of missing out on opportunities to apply for the universities that I wanted so badly to be a part of as I missed the entrance exams due to my sickness. 3. Also, I see how it's affecting my friends in college. During breaks, everyone is glued to their screens and it's difficult to have a conversation with them, in real space and time. Except for, what memes are going viral, or some stupid roast video. Sometimes, I have to pretend that I like them and laugh along , which is exhausting. Last year, after my graduation I took a break of almost 6 months from all the social media platforms , asked my friends to call me or drop me a message in the inbox, if needed and the results has been profound. I started reading more books, started new creative projects , learning guitar and also paint down all the ideas that I had been sleeping on only to watch some stupid videos on YouTube. It's been 2 years now I have left Facebook and use YouTube a lot less. I would have left WhatsApp if it weren't for the online classes. Right now it feels like those 6 months were the most ' alive ' and ' present' time that I have had. I was afraid that i might miss out something but after been through this ' retreat ' several times, it doesn't bother me much. And my friends also do this. We just have to message each other in advance that we need to get off the grid for sometime and will be unavailable, and it is okay with them.

Now I have some friends who are always there for me and who know the real me and not the one who is virtually present only in their mobile phones.

Abhijeet, 21, North Solapur,India
Abhijeet, 21, North Solapur,India
December 2, 2020
Let me clear this first of all that I was not addicted to any of these social media platforms. I am an undergrad. I started using Facebook since 7th standard, it was my friend who introduced me to Facebook. Initially there was only Facebook, smartphones were not there in the markets, there was scarcity of internet data. So my browsing was limited to Facebook only, it was the starting phase of Facebook and I was so desperate to go online, see what others are doing and the special feature of Facebook Chatting online. This single feature attracted me to Facebook a lot. Me and my friends used to spend a lot of hours in the cyber cafe just scrolling down the feed of my account and chatting with known and unknown friends. Whatsapp entered in the markets. This app changed all things for me, it made communication so easy and fast like never before. Sequentially all the social media accounts started to hit the markets. After wasting a lot of time on these platforms I realised that I am loosing some precious time of my life and helping earn money to some technocrats who build platforms like these. Then I quit facebook on 15 June 2017. Immediately after quitting facebook, it was something unusual for me, But after some time I got used to it. Now its been 3.5 yrs and I don't think I'll be ever activate my Facebook account. Now as whatsapp is there for some official purposes as well, till now I was unable to get rid of it. but as I have finished my college I uninstalled whatsapp. and now I am not active on any social media. Impact of Quitting Social Media accounts:- Aaaahh after social media my life become so easy to live. I started reading books, I could concentrate on my studies much better, I am loving trees and some pet animals. I spend like days with some of my close friends...... sitting in cafe.... getting to know each other in this real world. Now I have some friends who are always there for me and who know the real me and not the one who is virtually present only in their mobile phones. I am knowing myself much better, working on my strengths and weaknesses, I am building myself and creating my own future. At the same time now I am more sensitive towards environmental problems, societal issues etc. Actually I was active only on Facebook, Whatsapp, Youtube and Telegram. After knowing what happens behind the screen of my mobile (like the algorithms and all) I am more aware of my actions on internet, and I don't think that I'll be active again on these platforms except for official use. Guys just give yourself one chance to live without social media for some months.... you will realise the things which I have realised so far. Life is much more than this virtual reality.

...I still struggle with the endless scroll of the Instagram explore page. Feeling lonely over quarantine has made me more vulnerable.

Maddie, 17, Yakima,United States
Maddie, 17, Yakima,United States
December 2, 2020
I joined social media since I was eleven. Mostly Instagram, a little Snapchat and Tumblr too. Luckily I stayed away from Musically and TikTok. I identified with the fandoms I found, since I felt alienated at school and wanted to belong somewhere. Things spiralled out of my control fast, although I didn't realize it was because of the social media until later. I was exposed to a lot of inappropriate content. I became addicted to self harm- it took years to get over. When I went to high school, I knew no one, felt helpless, and constantly seeing other kids' social lives made it feel unbearable. I'm nearly eighteen now, and only in the past year or so have I started to cut ties with it all. I stopped participating in fandoms a long ago, but I still struggle with the endless scroll of the Instagram explore page. Feeling lonely over quarantine has made me more vulnerable. Now, I only use Instagram to share my artwork with family and friends. I feel like I understand technology better, and have regained some control. I want to work in interface design when I'm older, to help move things in a more humane direction. I'm doing my best to educate myself and people around me... it's hard, though, to see the detrimental effects of the internet on people I love. I know so many kids addicted to YouTube. I've watched my dad's addiction to Huffington Post and YouTube grow over the last four years. It's exhausting to talk to him because he's always outraged about something. My mom watches too much Netflix and she's gaining weight. I can tell they feel guilty about it, but I can't get them to change, or realize willpower isn't enough. It's tough...

My peers began shifting from jovial university freshman to bitter introverts.

Triston, 24, Grass Valley,United States
Triston, 24, Grass Valley,United States
December 2, 2020
There was a time in 2017 when I began to notice the effects of social media algorithms on my community. I had just set off for University in Montreal, Canada as a psychology student. I was excited to make new friends and engage with communities away from where my hometown in Northern California. But unfortunately it was during this time that I feel the power of the algorithms started to take off and have a palpable effect on the people around me. My peers began shifting from jovial university freshman to bitter introverts. The common tropes fuelling the simmering resentments among my friend groups ranged from the common and occasionally entertaining rants by young women about how they "hated men" to more shocking and confusing ideas such as "killing the bourgeoisie." Statements such as the latter were more common than I was comfortable with and I continually found myself blown away these ideas could be casually raised while hanging out at bars on Friday nights. People I had known for years becoming bitter enemies over politics was an all too common occurrence. But for me the most painful part of this sudden onset of social media tribalism was the subtle ever-present underlying sense of being policed by the people around you, sometimes the people closest to you. The feeling that I had to be "clean" and free from the blemishes of political or social nuance. Blending in with the binary "rights" and "wrongs" of ideology. I should mention that generally I'm a very agreeable and politically correct person. However, as my community became more hostile I became more and more convinced that I had extreme positions that should not be spoken. Soon after feeling the weight of all of this I began to investigate my own Facebook and Instagram feeds and got a sense of the source of the issue. 2018 was the year that I could not shut up about algorithms, as I was genuinely afraid of what was happening. I learned what I could primarily through the writings and lectures of Jaron Lanier, as he is the only figure I found who I felt treated the problem with the appropriate degree of seriousness. Our society cannot bare the weight of continued polarization. I was so delighted with the release of the Social Dilemma. With the film as our foundation I feel we have the tools to genuinely address this issue.

I felt so insecure about myself. My abilities, my looks, my roots, my potential. This because I was comparing my life with people around me and people I saw on social media.

Nathan, 21, Midlaren,Netherlands
Nathan, 21, Midlaren,Netherlands
December 2, 2020
I felt so insecure about myself. My abilities, my looks, my roots, my potential. This because I was comparing my life with people around me and people I saw on social media. I never realized being different is my key to joy and happiness. I still struggle with social media because I think I can't miss out. It has been integrated in my being because I've been using it since I was a teenager. I'm sort of afraid that I'll miss important updates about people and the world when I would delete it. It feels like I'm not strong enough to make this decision. I often doubt about it and this doubt is eating away my believes of having a great willpower. I used to be on Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter but I got rid of that attraction. Now I only feel being stuck with Instagram especially. And YouTube sometimes as well.

...it isn’t the people that I fear but the application itself that makes me do things I’m consciously unaware of.

Mira, 21, Seremban,Malaysia
Mira, 21, Seremban,Malaysia
December 2, 2020
3 weeks before watch the Netflix film, I had deleted my Instagram account because Something just hit me and I’ve been quite unhappy for a real long time the more I spend my time on the app. After watching the movie, I have gotten a clear picture of what’s actually going on and I felt rather relieved and paranoid at the same time. I used to be very careful on what I share on my social media accounts but now I’m not so sure anymore because it isn’t the people that I fear but the application itself that makes me do things I’m consciously unaware of. I have reduced my usage of Twitter and Snapchat. Most of my friends think I’m just being paranoid or plain stupid but I know my priorities now. I have learned how to manage my time and I feel free. I’m not obliged to post anything or have the need to even share a picture of what I ate. I don’t care what people do with their lives because in the end of the day I have to take care of my mental health and stability. I wouldn’t say I have completely deleted my social media accounts, but I have learned to use them wisely as a tool instead. And I have to thank the film for this.

#MySocialTruth is a story bank collecting young people’s experiences of harm on social media and visions for a radically reimagined 21st century digital infrastructure. Stories explore how it feels to be on social media, how it feels to be off of social media, and how we might reimagine social media to awaken authentic human connection. Learn more about the movement for humane technology at humanetech.com.

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