The Social Dilemma and Your Nutrition Dilemma: How to Master Both
I just watched the Netflix documentary, “The Social Dilemma.”
In many ways, it was a sobering reminder/re-enforcement of the potential pitfalls and negative consequences of social media use, especially for younger people. Make no mistake, social media exists to lure us in, track our behavior, and sell us products and services based on our search habits.
I wouldn’t say the film was earth-shattering or particularly poignant. Having sat through many food and diet documentaries and docu-series, my skepticism is on high alert from the moment I click. I’m hyper-aware of the formulaic tendencies of persuasive filmmaking.
Sad piano music? Check.
Mind-boggling and disheartening statistics? Check.
Rogue ex-industry executive whistleblowers? Check.
Really bad dramatized sketches with the dude from “Booksmart”- wasn’t expecting that (and I gotta be honest – it was cringe worthy)
“The Social Dilemma” could have been an 18-minute TED talk instead of a 90 minute documentary.
“The Social Dilemma” and “Your Nutrition Dilemma”
As mentioned before, I’m no stranger to food, and, or nutrition documentaries. Or, as I like to refer to them, “Schlockumentaries.” There are some striking similarities in the manner in which the information is presented and the ways we CONSUME both social media and food.
One trap I feel that most documentaries fall into is trying to neatly package all of society’s woes into a narrow narrative. Just as all of our world’s issues don’t fall squarely on the shoulders of social media, our health issues don’t hinge on a single entity (meat, carbs, McDonald’s). This is what’s known as the “single cause” fallacy.
If you’re going to consume social media in the same way Morgan Spurlock consumed Big Mac’s, then yes you are going to have problems in life.
As with social media, the solution isn’t so much about abstaining entirely from a single perpetrator, but rather examining the how’s and why’s of your consumption. It’s about taking a mindful, deliberate and strategic approach.
A solution to food and social media consumption should be individualized, moderated and not grounded in fear or hysteria.
Social Media And Food Consumption Strategies: The 3 “C’s”
One of the most intriguing philosophies I’ve heard on the topic of social media use is from Catherine Price of “Screenlifebalance”.
Price states that we view social media in the same way we view nutrition: As having both nourishing and empty uses. Instead of looking at use in terms of time (social media) or amount (food), look at HOW and WHY you are consuming. She recommends looking at social media in 3 ways:
Obviously #1 is likely a waste of time (I easily fall into this trap). It’s akin to the junk food we might overconsume (and/or consume in response to negative emotions). These are the newsfeeds, the “outrage porn”, the constant barrage of curated perfection – all the stuff that can make us feel anxious or insecure. It also likely falls under our radar of consciousness while we are consuming it and (again, an issue I struggle with).
In the same way that we can just gravitate to our phone when we need a distraction, dopamine hit or mood regulator we often use food in the same way. They both represent escapes from reality in some way.
Using social media for #2 and 3 can be rewarding and life-enhancing (provided we aren’t overdoing it). Using social media/sceen to connect with friends/family/colleagues can be a uniting and fulfilling experience – especially in the time of a pandemic. Using screens to write/journal, create art and other such information to change lives is some of the good that social media/screens can bring.
Much like nutrition the key here is balance. Creating an awareness of how and how much you are consuming with food and screens is CRUCIAL to your physical and emotional health.
Regardless of how you consume social media, I highly recommend taking breaks from it and connecting in the real world.
Do you feel you could be more mindful of your food and social media? Here’s a quick exercise you can try. Before consuming either food or screens ask yourself:
“Is this something that will nourish me”?
“Is there something else I can consume that will feed my body/soul in a better way”?
“What if I wait 15 minutes and occupy myself with something productive”?
Don’t get me wrong, consuming either food or social media in the form of “junk” is fine in smaller amounts. I suggest pre planning for these occasions. Know what/how much/for how long you will consume them. Detach from the emotional impact of them and be self-compassionate if you find yourself over-consuming either.
In the end, take steps to make both food and social media work for you, rather than being under IT’s control.