Dr. Nicholas Kardaras
The best way to immunize oneself (or one’s child) from the viral toxic effects of social media have to do with focusing less on the toxin (social media) and more on strengthening one’s psychological immune system. So while it’s always a good idea to both limit and delay a person’s use of social media, it’s critically important to become a modern day Philosopher-Warrior in order to develop the grit and resilience of a Spartan and the critical thinking, curiosity and intellect of an ancient philosopher by adhering to the following tips:
- BUILD GRIT AND RESILIENCE. According to psychologist Angela Duckworth (the author of “Grit”), we develop grit by leaning in to experiences, and thus allowing ourselves to make mistakes that we can learn from — and we NEVER quit. Reading serves as a necessary antidote to the shallow world of mindless Tweets and superficial Instagram posts.
- FIND A PURPOSE THAT RESONATES FOR YOU. As mythologist Joseph Campbell said, “Find your bliss.” With purpose comes passion and a clarity of one’s identity and place in the world — and thus we become less likely to be sucked into influencer nonsense.
- MAINTAIN A PHYSICAL PRACTICE. Healthy body, healthy mind. Whether you develop a daily walking routine, start practicing yoga or are training for a decathlon, keep yourself moving — it’s the best anti-depressant as exercise raises endorphin levels, creates a healthy sense of accomplishment, and helps the mind stay sharp—thus immunizing it from toxic social media. Physical activities such as bike-riding (AND MARTIAL ARTS) can form the strongest defense against Digital Social Contagion.
- READ CLASSICAL PHILOSOPHY. From Plato, Socrates, the Stoics and Marcus Aurelius. Ancient wisdom has a time-tested transcendent quality that elevates a person—and doesn’t debase and weaken the reader like superficial tweets or posts aimed at our baser instincts. The ancients also teach us how to cultivate the sanity-sustaining skill of critical thinking.
- HELP OTHERS. The modern digital world is built to create egocentric narcissism as algorithms curate a me-centric digital world. Break that pattern by focusing on helping others — by volunteering, mentoring or simply being kind to a neighbor. Manifesting the value of altruism is the antidote to the shallow values of prioritizing followers or generating views or likes.
- BE CREATIVE. BE BORED. Find opportunities to channel your creative self — by writing, painting, drawing—whatever it may be. Creativity is the antidote to the conforming group-think of social media. And when not creating, give yourself permission to be bored and to daydream. After all, boredom is the handmaiden of creativity. When we’re perpetually information over-loaded, there is no space for creative thought or for the mind to roam and wander and be curious—all critical ingredients in feeling self-actualized and not media-dependent.