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.