I’m inviting you to go on a pheasant hunting experience, one to purge an invasive species from your world.
Our minds, for all of their wondrous intricacies, are really just electrical computers running if/then statements. Social comparison is how we navigate the world. It’s hardwired into our mental laptops. We use it all the time to navigate the chaos.
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We hate being in awkward situations. We hate feeling out of place and unworthy.
When you go to a wedding, for instance, you use this exact piece of software. You open up the containing folder in your head, rummaging through it for anything wedding related. You scrounge through weddings you’ve been to before this one, and weddings on television. Ones you’ve heard about, or been part of, or seen online.
You pull from all that data to help you decide how to dress, what to wear, how to behave.
It’s what keeps you from dancing topless in Crocs on the buffet table despite what the tequila tells you.
It’s a healthy tactic, and it’s the same comparison matrix that keeps us from being bitten by snakes. Without it, every time you saw a snake it would be new. Let’s play with the cute little rope animal with the tail that goes clickety-clack! We’d be giant babies.
But there’s a huge distinction between intelligently digging up past experiences that can help us, and woefully kicking our horse into gear to chase after the idyllic-but-carefully-curated experiences of literally THE ENTIRE WORLD.
I’m talking about social media, and you’re probably not going to want to hear what I say.
It’s screwing with your data. You left the henhouse open and now you’re going to have to get your gun out. This will sound like hyperbole, but you should ditch everybody.
If you’re not in an industry that demands it, I’d recommend deleting it all together. If you that’s too heavy of an ask (I can’t do it either, so you’re in good company), might I suggest an output only strategy going forward? And if you can’t do that, you can, at the very least, try being more intentional with what you do pay attention to.
I recently went on a purge of my own profile, and it wasn’t just a hunt; it was execution day. I started with the people who only had silhouettes for profile photos. Then I ditched the people with made up names. Then the folks with joint accounts. Sorry, Dougandjill Smith.
I hovered over names and clicked See Friendship. I opened up Messenger to see if we’d ever interacted. I was savage about it, wading through my list with a scythe. Welcome to my Abaddon. The bloodthirst felt good.
It didn’t stop there either. If you made the first cut thanks to our familiarity but weren’t contributing positively to the digital landscape where I’d been forced to build my house, I simply hid you. I was a monster about it.
Because voyeuring in on a thousand strangers isn’t healthy in any capacity.
We don’t need more connections; we need closer ones. Just because you traded Facebooks with the guy you met when your plane was delayed and you talked for an hour about how you both liked the Cubs. Yeah, you’re not required to watch that guy’s kids grow up. You don’t have to see his vacations. You don’t have to listen to his depressed lamentations about his mother’s cancer just because you sat next to one other for an extra sixty minutes on a tarmac.
We live in a reality of our own making, and how we frame it is almost 100% the result of how we’ve processed our input, which is 100% dependent on what that input was to begin with, which is 100% within our control.
Make it a game. Compete with friends to see who can bring in the most pelts, and make sure to check these 9mm handguns online, they’ll definitely be part of my collection this year. Hell, stuff your favorites. But happy hunting! Please do so guilt free. It’s for the good of the ecosystem and come on, don’t forget to take your waterfowl hunting backpack with all your hunting essentials!