The Social Dilemma is loneliness vs exploitation

We watched the uber alarming Netflix documentary, the Social Dilemma last night.  It was frightening in it’s revelations, it was threatening in it’s implications, it was damning of the social media giants and it was somewhat dooming of our future as ‘being connected’.  The social side of the digital medium has been corrupted beyond redemption and is moving ever-faster in the wrong direction.  Social media is now patently NOT good for your health.

Suggestion: Get out!  GET OUT NOW!

I won’t bore you with what you either already know (because you watched the doc) or because you intuited as much just being a user.  What I will point out is that, with advancing artificial intelligence, it is going to get worse.

Even if you just READ social and corporate newsfeeds, you are being manipulated.  They already have your/their profile of you in their data files in so many ways that even the news is ‘adjusted’ for you and folks like you.  The truth has been altered to please the reader’s established biases.  In other words, not only is Trump reading what Trump wants to hear, so am I.  We are both being sorted and divided by our own news feeds.

Why did this all happen?  Is Zukerberg and his ilk evil?  I am thinking: Yes, they are. If they are not evil, then easily corrupted.  Greedy.  But Facebook didn’t start that way.  Facebook likely started from a much more benign place – a nice interpretation?: Zukerberg thought he was creating community.

Face it, healthy community in an urban environment is difficult at best (even amongst the rich who have to first buy the status symbols or meet their so-called friends at the ‘discriminating’ country club or insanely expensive restaurants) and it is almost impossible most of the time (especially amongst the poor who have children, illnesses, handicaps, poverty and low-income jobs).  It simply costs money to make and keep ‘friends’ in the city.  If it does not cost money directly, it costs money indirectly in that you are NOT earning bucks when you are out making friends.

And ‘giving’ of your time for strangers?   Volunteering?  Donating?  In these times!  Are you mad!?  Helping keep your neighbourhood healthy and safe?  Well, we pay others to do that so we can earn more or watch TV.  We are too tired from commuting, living and working to go help our neighbours.

Urban community doesn’t really exist but with few exceptions.  It seems that in England, they have called the lonely elderly an epidemic and, of course, they are referring to those who do not use social media.  Without Facebook, many of the elderly have no community whatsoever.

Fact:  Social media-based community is so much easier and, additionally, it takes a lot of the time and distance out of any community building effort.  One can keep an old friend who moved away without even having to travel or call.  A ‘like’ is supposed to suffice for a hug or touch.  It’s all kind of pathetic because the digital community is not very deep.  It is not very personal. It is not intimate or close.  It is a facsimile at best.  And it is being invaded all the time by others NOT interested in you except as a ‘digit’ or ‘subscriber’ or ‘follower’ that can add to the monetization program they have implemented legally or illegally.

“But, if FB provides even that admittedly pathetic community link, isn’t that a good thing?” 

It may have been originally but, you see, Facebook is data mining writ large.  Data mining is information.  Information can be sold.  Zukerberg wanted the money.  So, he sold out the community he helped create.  He sold you.  And he sells your friends.  Capitalism entered the picture and took control.  Zuckerberg is worth $90 Billion.

Information is also just a tool and a tool can be misused and abused.  So, there are bad actors who bought the information for nefarious purposes and then sold their ‘work’ again as dirty tricks and manipulations.  Lies and manipulations sell – they call it marketing.  Selling you shoes you do not need is not as profitable as selling you lies about politics or even vaccinations and conspiracy theories.  Bad guys can be creative, too.  Some of them brought you Trump.  Others brought you Q-Anon.  Marketers are still important even in the digital age and they know that lies travel six times faster than truths (the effect of sensationalism, outrage, strong feelings).

So, what is the answer?  Simple.  Get out.  Get out now.  But, here’s the weird part: people won’t.  They will stay.  They will not quit. They can’t leave.  They are now ‘hooked’ because they needed and wanted a semblance of community and before social media there was a huge and growing social gap of loneliness.  But now the user has ‘friends’.  They get ‘likes’.  They get two and three word confirmations of their existence.  And that  is what suffices for community nowadays. 

Zuckerberg monatized loneliness.

 

 

 

14 thoughts on “The Social Dilemma is loneliness vs exploitation

  1. No place to go! The isolation of individuals is the human condition. This isolation is intensified by a shaming and blaming culture of finding fault to explain its discontents. ‘’Who will join my tribe?” ‘’If you join our tribe…hive thinking will show you your purpose.‘’ Ayn Rand promise to show the virtue of selfishness. Others offer Utopias with varied creeds purporting to offer a path to perfectIon. However glorious these utopias seem ultimately they lead only to the grave. No future in vain faint glory.

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  2. I’d say a huge factor in the political balkanization of democratic societies is….the internet.
    Every, looney, left or right wing paranoid conspiracy is floated for everyone to see with not one iota of it based in reality.
    THEN you add in the data mining artificial intelligence software which will only become smarter, and more insidious …
    I’d say the uber rich billionaires in charge of Google, Facebook, whatever are going to get hit with some sort of major backlash in the near future when people finally realize how intrusive they are in our pathetic lives.
    I joined Facebook when it first started up and after a few months I realized….. I really dont care where someone else went for dinner or if someone’s kid baked their first batch of cookies…..
    Time ……wasting ……..Drivel.

    And now I find the annoying Google Advertising AI “search feature” even more time wasting.
    I looked for a certain item over a week or so on the internet…..found what I wanted ( a stand alone mailbox) …. and purchased it….from an online supplier
    Now?
    I’m inundated with ads for stand alone mailboxes!
    The friken AI doesnt realize I have already purchased it ONLINE.
    Someone might want to program into AI that most humans only require ONE friken mailbox!
    Same goes with large tv’s, shoes, etc.
    So if I look for something now, I expect that Google will bombard me with endless ads for items I have already purchased.
    Annoying as hell.
    I was thinking of trying to find unusual items for Google to send me ads for .
    Pink frogs, pigs with wings, bikinis for Hippos, that sort of thing.
    But Google WILL find these items and then tell you there are 14 million of them and it only took it 0.0000001 nano seconds……..for them to find all 14 million…..
    Have fun looking at 14 million options.

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    • I never joined FB. But I tried Linked In for a bit. Both of them struck me as insidious and evil. I stopped playing in Linked In very soon thereafter. But, of course, everything is Googleable now. Only a Luddite would not Google. And I like You Tube for the lessons they have on obscure topics. They have their hooks in me, too.
      And, if it was just ads being sent, I wouldn’t begrudge them that. But it is MORE than ads – it is altered truths, it is alternative facts, it is THEIR bias and their manipulations that are now being planted in my failing grey matter. Stay away and be ignorant. Jump in and be manipulated. It’s getting harder to even think……

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      • Yeah, I have absolutely HAD it with new passwords for new sites.

        My god, between logging into my computer, online banking, BC Hydro, Telus bills, Netfix, Amazon Prime, work access, Air Canada, on and on and on.
        And when I worked at a large company they were constantly requiring NEW passwords…..
        My god.
        I had a gas station attendant badger me the other day to apply for ‘their” credit card ,” No thanks I have enough plastic in my wallet and passwords in my head…..”
        “But it will save you 7 cents a liter………”

        And they will have your name, address, etc to hound you to the gates of Hell with endless, unwanted ….advertising……

        Even If they invent a biometric passport ( eye scan, finger print, blood) someone , somewhere will either hack IT or hack the body part required to access your money……. no thanks.

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  3. There are several transcendental truths including that humans will experience suffering. Much of this suffering comes from wanting things that will not be or wanting what others possess.

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  4. I found FB useful to find out whether my father’s seaside town had burnt down in the summer bushfires. Through an acquaintance of a FB friend. Comms were down in that area and people were trapped. I suppose I didn’t really need to know. I could have just waited several days. Apart from that, I’ve largely abandoned FB. It makes me anxious every time I visit and the content is banal. I’ve returned to the old-fashioned way of making contact.

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    • True enough.
      I get birthday updates from facebook and thats all.
      I have relatives send me facebook messages and i have to text them back that I dont use it ( or remember my decade old password….or care to renew it)

      You also get the added bonus of possibly dealing with US Customs when travelling to the US demanding people give their facebook password so they can dig into your personal comments, photos etc……… along with the password to your cell phone etc.

      “Go for it fellas! Maybe you can crack my password because I sure cant’ be bothered…”
      🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Ya that doc was thought provoking even scary. Judy and I discussed it and I had to say I think there is a possibility of a civil war in the US before they said it. The human condition has changed over time due to the demands of our societies: keep up with the Jones, better schools, better neighourhoods, better everything material. This has forced us to have two working adults with or without children basically destroying the family unit of ages ago. At the same time leaving our parents to fend for themselves (lonely seniors). Unfortunately I do not have the answers or even an answer, a very complicated world today. I do chose to stay and try to do my bit for our less fortunate via my (our) Rotary Club, drive my neighbour to his doctor appointments. I am not looking for accolades just doing what I can.

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  6. I haven’t seen the documentary, but I’ll put it on top of my list. It’s indeed a strange and scary world, but it’s like David said…get OUT NOW!! But I admit it’s easier said than done. I use FB, LinkedIn and Instagram, but only for those things I like and I try NOT to follow all the superficial things. But I definitely have learned a lot from Youtube . On the other hand, I have started to collect old books on woodworking, just to get back to the basics

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    • I am not so sure that NOT being on FB/Inst/LI means quite as much as first assumed. It is likely Google and the search engine providing the bulk of the data. The bastards want to know what your interests are and nothing tells them that as clearly as your searches. Still, I am NOT on FB. Or Twitter/Inst/LI (anymore) and so I am buffered a bit. But I am a busy searcher and so I likely have a thick file somewhere in the cloud. I do not really care what they know about me so much as the fact that they ‘alter’ the information I get to ‘suit me’ and their advertisers. That is dissembling writ large….very close to lying.

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      • All this razzmatazz about loss of personal privacy though mass media intrusions is futile. Cameras are ubiquitous and the facial recognition data banks grow by the second. ‘’1984’’ and “Big Brother is watching you” is part of the currency of a dystopian society. I have zero interest in the prurient disgorgement of gossip that so many seem to want. We hear from groups that they want their views to be respected…code for ‘society must act in ways that the discontented endorse.’ Mass media intrusions are the least of our problems when faced by groups that would roll back advancements in personal freedoms. A sidebar to this is that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand is currently up for re-election and one of the burning questions she was recently asked was, “Have you smoked marijuana?” Issues that currently seem to be settled in Canada for others are an ongoing source of rage.

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  7. I have used DuckDuckGo for awhile and it seems to avoid that idiotic bombardment with ads for items which you have previously searched and purchased or decided not to purchase, or whatever.

    I eschew all “social media”, but had to get on FB some years ago since, at our off grid location, the parents used FB messenger to coordinate driving kids to school every morning. So, I signed up, albeit reluctantly, with a fake name. I don’t use real name or any identifying features where at all avoidable. If setting up an email account requires my birthday, I make one up.

    Ideally, I should have no internet presence. I don’t want my name or photo out there. I made my employer take my name and credentials off the corporate website. I don’t want a search engine to find me.

    I went on LinkedIn for awhile. Bit of a joke. I was getting “endorsements” from people I did not even know and the ones from people I knew were for attributes they were in no position to assess. It seems that being “linked” to people on LI is like accumulating “friends” on FB. The more the better for some strange reason. I kept getting pestered to “add a photo” and admonished that I was just “7 connections away from accelerating my career on LinkedIn”. I wonder. Had I bothered to acquire those extra connections, would I now be rich?

    I recently had to duke it out with the outfit that holds some RRSP money for me. Done business with them for years. Now they want copies of my ID! They say it’s the law, Fintrac and all that bs, because maybe I am financing terrorism or some such. What crap. I told them to come and pry my ID from my cold dead hands. They were unable to cite the legislation that compels me to hand over my ID to anyone who asks so that all their employees can have it and circulate it. And don’t even get me started about such government busybodying as Fintrac. Very subversive and inimical to our wellbeing. Not about money laundering or terrorism at all. Yet we Canadians tolerate that crap imposed by our worthless politicians. I have not voted in years, but I’ll vote for any who will stand up for what remaining vestiges of freedom we might have. I know. Not gonna’ happen.

    I post here as “anonymous”, even though there others do the same, including one who thinks very differently from moi and who wants me to put my personal information online. It’s that kind of thing that reinforces me in the view that maintaining privacy is paramount.

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