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A Day in the Matrix

I took a couple film analysis classes as part of my psychology minor in college. The Matrix was a favorite and while I understood the concepts, I wasn't as excited about the movie as everyone else seemed to be. However, my recent experiences with social media have given me a whole new perspective and appreciation for the story line.

Yesterday I finally created a new portal to re-enter the main social media platform, which I'll refer to as the Matrix for the rest of this post. Re-entry was unimaginably hard. Shockingly hard. In retrospect, I was completely unprepared for what was in store.

{Trigger Warning: Grief, Loss}

My first account (the one I've had for almost 15yrs) was hacked and permanently deleted with no chance for appeal. Because this account was connected to my personal phone number Spyware was installed on my phone. I was not able to create a new account with the same phone number. I had to get a new phone number in order to create a new portal back into the Matrix. The reason this matters is that without access to phone contacts, the Matrix doesn't know who your contacts are in real time. When I searched for my friends, hundreds of people with the same name would pop up. Then trying to remember all my friends' full names/usernames/married names etc was challenging. And at one point I was DENIED the opportunity to send a friend request, with the error message reading: "It looks like you don't actually know this person. Stick to friend requests of people you know." I felt light-headed and waves of nausea started rolling through my guts.

As the Matrix started to catch on to my social network, it started to suggest people from within that network for me to request. And then suddenly there was a picture of my dead Nana and I broke.

My Nana is dead and the Matrix is cold and inhumane. I cascaded into the realization that all the years of being connected to her in the virtual world were gone forever and there is no way to replace or recreate that. I can't 'friend request' her because she's dead, so I can't even have access the photos and memories of her. I already grieved her death in the real world but now I had to lose her in a whole new way. I wasn't prepared for that. This was the point I was forced to question whether it was worth it to keep going. It only took moments for that sickeningly dehumanizing experience. I thought I had already been through the worst of it, but damn.

There were people that reached out directly to corroborate my identity. Hearing from them was like receiving a lifeline when you aren't sure if you're going to make it to the surface. Those people restored my faith, so I know there is still the opportunity for authentic connection in the virtual Matrix, but I'll be much more protective of the way I show up.

I hope that I've inspired you to consider what you would lose if the portal closed suddenly for you. If you use this platform for business, is your personal portal the only admin on your business page? If so, you might want to give that some thought. Even if you aren't in business, try this thought experiment: if you had to start a new account with a new phone number, imagine how much wider your search for your friends just got if the Matrix can't narrow it down from your contacts list. If the algorithms on this new account had no access to your search history, location or likes, they wouldn't have any background information on you, imagine how different your online experience would be. I will be keeping this in mind with my new account. I also have not re-installed the portal onto my phone and I don't plan to. Now that I know that the Matrix creates a portal for spyware, I am much more concerned and protective. It was also very concerning that there was zero response from The Social Media Company, which shows me that they are not at all concerned about my sensitive information being compromised or my business pages being hijacked and potentially used for malicious intent under the guise of my reputation. If this was a genuine concern, there would be helplines and 24hr live chat features to troubleshoot these threats, but I assure you, there are not.

It may seem counterintuitive to what we've been taught about business, but I'm feeling drawn to connecting with a smaller, more intentional community. I don't want to create experiences in the virtual world, I want more human connection. I will send some sonar pulses into the digital world to reach the people I'm meant to reach, but I'm not looking to go big, I'm looking to go deep.

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