one minute exposure
How do you feel after scrolling your favorite social media site for a few minutes? It's an interesting exercise to pay attention to the physical and emotional feelings.
First, pay attention to how you feel before you pick up your phone to scroll. Excited? Anxious? Calm, even? Why do you think you feel that way? Are you escaping something? Looking forward to something? It's important to ask yourself these questions in order to make your time spent online worth it and meaningful.
(I'll share how I feel. The idea of sitting down with my phone to look at social media is comforting. I can lose myself in my phone for a little bit. It's not really a phrase I use, but "tucking in" comes to mind.)
Okay, so scroll for 10-15 minutes. Or even ONE minute. How do you feel after? If I had to guess, I'd say uneasy, anxious, unsatisfied. And I'd have to guess that you were scrolling for more time than you planned.
Why do we feel that way? I decided to really dissect a one minute scrolling session and see what my brain has been exposed to in that time. Here’s one minute I recorded while scrolling Reddit. This is what I actually saw:
I played the video back and recorded the first thing from each post I saw as I scrolled.
Then I created a stripped down version of the posts, capturing the themes of the content I saw. The themes weren't mostly pleasant, either. I created a system to assign meaning to color and type, to denote which topics were pleasant, neutral, or disturbing. I used a gradient. Cooler colors and lowercase type were for pleasant/happy/funny ideas, and warmer colors and uppercase type were for more disturbing headlines. The pared down video tells a different story than the format we're used to. By distilling the meaning, by removing the context of flashy imaging and UI, likes and comments, it's easier to get a sense of what our brains are experiencing.
Next, I recorded myself reading the lists, mostly because when I read them to my studio group, it was funny to hear all that randomness in rapid succession. But it also points out what nonsense we're experiencing. Imagine having a conversation like this?
What kind of feeling are we walking away with when we're constantly overloading ourselves with this subliminal messaging? What good does it do? My goal was to quantify and judge each topic in order to decide if I want to keep doing this to myself, and to ask you, the viewer, to do the same for yourself.