You Are What You Click: How Being Selective, Positive, and Creative Can Transform Your Social Media Experience
September 07, 2021
This new book shows that the answer is not swearing off technology, but learning how to use social media without letting it use you.
You Are What You Click: How Being Selective, Positive, and Creative Can Transform Your Social Media Experience by Brian Primack, Chronicle Prism
The it could have been me incidents in life are unmooring moments in which we get the faintest glimpse of death from afar, reminding us to enjoy life and maybe even encouraging us to rethink how we spend our lives. And in the face of crisis and grief, we gravitate towards the concrete facts and habitual actions that make us comfortable, which is what doctor, researcher, and author Brian A. Primack did, leading him to writing this informative and reasonably positive book about making social media a better experience and place for ourselves and others.
When a shooter attacked his local synagogue, Primack and his family were at home preparing for guests—A random stroke of luck to have not attended the service that day. When it was reported that the shooter was encouraged and supported on a social media site, Gab, to act on his anti-Semitism, Primack was urged into action to use his expertise on media and technology’s influence on health to understand and prevent the recurring story of hate breeding hate online.
It's easy to blame social media for encouraging the wrong things in people, but there's also the case for it being an accessible place for many to come together. So, the answer is not swearing off technology, but learning how to use social media without letting it use you. Primack relates consuming technology to consuming food:
Millions of years of evolution have ensured that our bodies are equipped to process out toxins, heal infections, and defend against microbes. We don't have innate filters like these for tech. Instead, our minds and bodies act like sponges, absorbing anything and everything we immerse ourselves in digitally. This is why, as our use of and reliance on technology increases, we need a set of guidelines—like the food pyramid—to help us craft a satisfying and nourishing tech diet.
You Are What You Click provides a fresh perspective and science-based reasoning on the already well-known idea that social media's effect on our mental health is, overall, not good. Primack's guide outlines three, personalizable principles to aid in improving our relationship with the digital world: "Be selective, be positive, and be creative." Primack highlights innate human weaknesses that social media and tech take advantage of, such as our tendency to compare ourselves to others, our thirst for drama, and our egocentricity. But his thorough, scientific explanations of human psychology are accessible and very helpful, applicable not just to how we interact with social media but that draw attention to how we think about ourselves and communicate with others every day. You Are What You Click is informative, interesting, and easy to follow. If we all decided to do something as simple as pausing before we post a comment to think about how it may make others feel, how much more civil our social media feeds could be! (GMC)