Is Social Media Really A Rut?

Is Social Media Really A Rut?

by Cuthbert Chong

Winning speech for BVTMC Chapter Meeting on Monday, 16 Sep 2019

Competent Communicator Manual, P9 Persuade with Power


“Cuthbert. Cuthbert!” My mum was calling out at me, although we were just sitting across each other at the dinner table. “Did you hear what I was saying?”


“Um… no, sorry, what was it again?”


“Sigh, so obsessed with your phone. What are you even looking at?”… I shook my head. I didn’t know. I really didn’t know. Come to think of it I’m not even sure what was so interesting on my phone.


In another event, my friend, Daryl, and I walked into this cozy cafe. The aroma of roasted coffee beans permeated our nostrils; soft jazz piano played in our ears; the wooden flooring offered a warm, welcoming ambience. After settling down, a waitress came to take our orders. At which point, Daryl asked, “What’s your WiFi password?” Kindly, the waitress smiled, as she gestured to a canvas handwritten calligraphy sign hanging on the wall.


It said. “No WiFi, it’s the 90’s here, we talk to each other”



Fellow toastmasters and evaluator…..SSSSS… Let me ask you, What is the first thing you do after your morning routine? What is the last thing you do before you sleep?


Smartphones and social media has penetrated our lives thoroughly these days. Our friends aand family sometimes have their face buried so deeply in that gorilla glass, that we’re better off talking to Google. A study from Harvard University states that the average adult spends up to 4 hours a day using their devices. It follows us from our first waking hour in the morning, to our work, our holidays, and for some of us, even to your toilets.


Humans are social creatures. Yet what social media today contains is a feed of highlight reels of the best of the best of people’s lives, leaving us comparing and feeling inadequate, sometimes of people we barely know. The constant checking and double checking of our phones triggered by a dopamine driven response saying “Hey, maybe we missed something!”. This phenomenon even has a name now, called FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out.


However, is social media really the culprit to anxiety and our FOMO? What is it that makes social media soooo addictive? Let’s take a trip back to ancient times.


Since long ago, the one thing that separated mankind from other animals, is the ability to share stories. Our ancestors spent countless hours every night huddled around bonfires, sharing stories of  how they survived the claws of the savannah’s most ferocious lion; stories of how sickness wiped out an entire neighboring tribe; stories of how the spirits and goddesses blessed their people with bountiful harvest.


We humans have the ability to listen to other’s speak, and visualize in our mind’s eye exactly what others see, imagine, or even believe. Stories are what unite people from unknown backgrounds and territories, create cultures and allow us to visualize futures. Even today, stories play a crucial role in shaping ourselves and our lives. And what is social media, but an infinite stream of stories from everyone around us?


Well the way I see it, the problem isn’t exactly with the existence of social media. Instead, it’s about how frequently we use it, and what media we choose to consume.


And since, smartphones and social media aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, why not, to let it be up to us to decide, what we consume, and what we throw out, with these 3 steps.

  1. Recognize – First identify what comes in your feed. What you enjoy, what you don’t. What aligns with your goals, your objectives, and what is a waste of time and tasteless entertainment.
  2. Unfollow – Once you’ve identified what works for you and what you could have less of in your life, unfollow or mute the feeds or people that don’t contribute to your being. Some whom you call “friends” could be so addicted to social media that they’re playing the 1 up game with everyone who posts their vacation photos. If they don’t make you a better person, unfollow.
  3. Time Management – Lastly, set aside a time for your social media, for example, I find that not checking my social media in the morning will let me focus better for most of the day until I end work, only then do I spend some time checking on what happened for the day. What about Fear of Missing Out? If it was urgent? They’d have called me.


Recognize, Unfollow, Time management. R.U.T. RUT. I hope that with this, we can learn to cherish the people around us and once again learn to live in the moment, and not be stuck in the social media rut.


Thank you.



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