The Danger of Social Media

In a word: delusions

by Thomas Wictor

Sun, November 25, 2018

You’ve probably seen this by now.

"Roseanne Barr took to Twitter late Saturday night to dispel rumors she suffered a heart attack.
"'I'm fine,' Barr, 66, tweeted to her followers after concerns about her health went viral Saturday night.
"She followed that up with a tweet elaborating that she was the victim of a prank. 'I've had no medical issues," she wrote. "'I'm spending time at home with my family and relaxing.’”

Here are her tweets.

When I was on Twitter, I was asked about crazy stuff every single day. People were hysterical, and they got angry when I told them that their fears weren’t real. The Roseanne heart-attack story began with one guy. His explanation makes no sense whatsoever. It's completely incoherent.

Here’s what you need to understand:

Roseanne is a real person, and she doesn’t need this. She probably got many thousands of panicky messages. I didn’t send one, because there was no evidence that the story was true.


If something had happened, I’d find out about it soon enough.

People on social media have become warped by the need to be there first with the most, to quote Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest. After the Thousand Oaks mass shooting, parents were live-tweeting their search for their dead children. I can’t imagine doing that. People also gave interviews moments after learning that their child was dead.

A couple of years ago, I went to the supermarket and found a burning minivan in the parking lot. An old man was standing by the open driver’s door, leaning into the black smoke pouring out. I yanked him away, and then he called his wife on his cellphone. The van was surrounded by young people filming. When vehicles burn, the tires explode, so I had to tell everyone to back off. They refused.

A fire truck came, and I heard the old man say to his wife in Spanish that he’d left his pistol and ammunition in the van. So I told the fire captain. Everybody retreated just as the ammo started cooking off.

It sounded exactly like bullets ricocheting in movies. I crouched behind the wheel of a monster truck.

As I said, everyone retreated—except for the kids with cellphones. They stood there and filmed as bullets flew past their heads. Then the tires started exploding, sending chunks of rubber and hubcaps flying.

The kids remained in place.

All of life has become centered on social media. Getting clicks and likes. Getting eyeballs on your account or channel. Being part of something. It’s very unhealthy for individuals, and it makes people delusional. Social media revs people up AND blunts their sense of self-preservation. Like everything else, the failure is the human element.

I now use social media mostly for things like THIS:

Someone sent me a message that people on Twitter are acting as if I’m dead. That shows you how social media distorts you.

I’m more alive than I’ve been in years, but since I’m no longer on social media, I may as well be dead.

Think about what THAT says about users of social media.

About the author
Thomas Wictor was born in Caripito, Venezuela, and has lived in Texas, the Netherlands, Norway, Great Britain, Oregon, Japan, and California. He earned a bachelor's degree in history from Lewis and Clark College and has worked as a stevedore, library archivist, conversational English teacher, editor of the world's first online newspaper, voiceover actor, delivery driver, process server, field representative for a document-retrieval service, and music journalist.


Register with us to receive updates

Follow @quodverum