The Paradox of Self-Improvement meets the Future of Social Media

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Sep 21, 2023

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The Paradox of Self-Improvement meets the Future of Social Media

In the new book, The Art of Self Improvement, author Anna Katharina Schaffner presents a unique perspective on the concept of self-improvement. Unlike most modern self-help approaches that emphasize exertion and determination, Schaffner argues that true improvement comes from yielding, accepting, and giving up resistance. This idea resonates with the teachings of Taoism, where suppleness is celebrated as a vital quality. Lao-tzu, a prominent Taoist figure, suggests that being supple and weak while alive allows for growth and adaptability, while being hard and stiff when dead signifies stagnation and rigidity.

Viktor Frankl, a renowned psychologist and author of Man's Search for Meaning, also supports this notion of self-transcendence. Frankl believes that being human inherently points us towards something or someone beyond ourselves, whether it be a meaningful purpose to fulfill or a meaningful connection with another person. In other words, the more we let go of our preoccupation with ourselves and dedicate ourselves to external causes or the people we love, the more we actualize ourselves. For Frankl, self-actualization is only possible as a side-effect of self-transcendence.

Schaffner further suggests that we need to find meaning outside of our own psyche. This idea challenges the common notion that we are central to the unfolding of the universe. Instead, Schaffner encourages us to remember how insignificant we truly are in the grand cosmic scheme of things. Surprisingly, this realization can be liberating, as it allows us to put down the heavy burden of self-importance that many of us unknowingly carry. As Frankl beautifully summarizes, "Whatever you do in life will be insignificant, but it is essential that you do it."

Now, let's shift our focus to the future of social media. In an article titled "5年後に流行るSNSは? - テクノロジーだよ人間だよ" (What will be the popular social media platform in 5 years? - It's about technology and humanity), the author explores the evolving landscape of social media. The article argues that to become a dominant player in the world of social media, platforms must be accessible to the general public, allowing everyone to contribute and share their content.

The article also speculates on the future impact of emerging technologies like smart glasses. The author envisions a scenario where smartphones are replaced by smart glasses, significantly lowering the barrier to capturing moments through photography. As Apple's smart glasses become more prevalent, freeing us from the need to hold a smartphone to capture moments, what will come next?

One possibility highlighted in the article is the integration of immersive videos into platforms like Instagram and TikTok. Instead of consuming videos with a limited field of view asynchronously, there is a prediction that startups will emerge, focusing on synchronous (real-time) consumption of videos with a full field of view. This shift from media-centric platforms like YouTube to more social-centric platforms will allow even ordinary individuals to contribute and participate actively in the social media landscape.

Combining these two seemingly unrelated topics, we find a fascinating connection. The paradox of self-improvement suggests that true fulfillment and actualization come from letting go of our preoccupation with ourselves and dedicating ourselves to meaningful causes or connections with others. Similarly, the future of social media points towards a shift from media-centric platforms to social-centric platforms that enable active participation from all individuals. Both ideas emphasize the importance of transcending the self and finding meaning outside of our own psyche.

So, what actionable advice can we take from these insights?

  • 1. Embrace self-transcendence: Instead of solely focusing on self-improvement, dedicate yourself to causes or connections that extend beyond your own interests. By doing so, you may find a deeper sense of fulfillment and purpose.
  • 2. Seek external meaning: Look for meaning outside of your own psyche. Recognize that your role in the grand scheme of things may be insignificant, but it is still essential that you contribute and engage with the world around you.
  • 3. Embrace social-centric platforms: As social media continues to evolve, consider actively participating in platforms that prioritize social interaction and allow for contributions from all individuals. Engage with others and share your unique perspectives and experiences.

In conclusion, the paradox of self-improvement and the future of social media offer intriguing insights into the importance of transcending the self and finding meaning outside of our own psyche. By embracing self-transcendence, seeking external meaning, and actively participating in social-centric platforms, we can navigate the complexities of self-improvement and the evolving world of social media with a renewed sense of purpose and connection.

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