This is one of the least talked-about side effects of social networks.

You thought that Time was linear, or perhaps cyclical, well think again! Ever since the smartphone era, Time has become vertical. And it changes everything.

Image: Gerd Altmann -Pixabay

The past is in the past.

The past is no longer behind us; it lies at the bottom of the infinite feed.
And we rarely dare going down that slippery slope for too long.
The feeds are noisy and colorful elevators/time machines we scroll up and down to navigate through the history. Or through the “stories”.

Live like there’s no tomorrow.

Every time we log in to a social network, we land at a rooftop party where the sky is the limit, except that; there is no sky.
There is no perspective, no horizon to look at, no space for the future.
We are doomed to be in the present moment.

Carpe Diem?

Unfortunately, it’s not about making the most of our days. Social Media platforms are designed to make us forget about time by sucking up our attention as much as they can. It would be more of a Carpe Second philosophy based on instant gratifications. One after another, and another, and another one…

A pointless pressure

Feeds are so noisy and crowded that it is difficult to relax and enjoy the moment; we are constantly encouraged to engage and react.
To unwind and reflect, not so much!
And when we decide to mingle and join the ongoing conversation, as thoughtful and essential for humanity as our contribution might be, it only adds to the pile of preexisting posts.
By design, we can not move anything forward.

The frustration of eternal hope

We keep scrolling or swapping because we’re hoping that the next “thing” will be worth it. Like gamblers giving their favorite slot machine another spin wishing it finally pays off. The problem is, we quickly lose track of what we were looking for in the first place; the combination of the constant stimulations and the self-hypnotic movements of our eyes and fingers is mesmerizing.

The most insidious side effect of this vortex is guilt. Social media users feel bad for scrolling their life away. But when they created their accounts, no one warned them about the radical change of space and time perception they would be going through. They had no clue they would become Pinocchios in Pleasure Island.

Smartphones throw us back into a regressive sensorimotor approach to life in which we live “inside” time, just like children.
It takes a lot of discipline to beat the platforms’ designs and algorithms once you’re onboard. There is no Jiminy Cricket to rescue people caught up in the endless emotional rollercoaster and constant novelty.

I suggest you reflect on how long you have had a smartphone.
5, 10, 12 years? Well, this is your age in the vertical time era. You still are a kid or a teen on that front.
It’s ok if you are not mastering the whole shebang yet.
You’re not alone; we’re all learning, adjusting, and growing together.
We’ll figure it out… somehow.