I’m sure we have all noticed the divide between what we think is right and what others think is right, how people seem to hold completely opposite views to ourselves and there is very little common ground any more. We have seen it with Brexit, Covid-19 anti-mask/vax and the US elections to name but a few. The beliefs on both sides are so strong that you have to ask yourself how has this happened.
The answer, it seems, largely lies with Social Media, it has created a distrust of Main Stream Media (MSM) and authority but, I hasten to add, it appears not intentionally. You see Social Media when it first entered our lives brought us a great way to connect with each other and stay in touch. Then the added bonus of being able to connect to our favourite celebrities and it quickly became a great tool.
However, in order to survive they had to make money and the model on how to do this was born. This model which is automated is what literally controls all your online experiences as they all intricately connect with each other ensuring you get what you like and find what you want. Simply put we are no longer a customer of social Media we are the product that it sells in order to make its money and boy does it make money. The bots automatically gather your data from you in every aspect of your online usage and they don’t sell that information as was first thought, they use that information to determine what you like and dislike what political persuasion you are, religion, hobbies, family friends etc and how that all connects together and it creates a profile that is unique to you and it knows through trial and error what works for you and what doesn’t. So how is this used and why does it matter? So, what’s its role and why is it important?
On an initial look the innocence can be seen, in order to give you advertisements that are targeted to you it uses the gathered information to target you with adverts that are likely to be of interest to you. You may like fishing so it gives you fishing equipment, nothing wrong with that that’s clever and creates a better experience to your online encounter, however these bots have a sole purpose and that purpose is to give you as many adverts as possible in order to make as much money as possible and it does this by keeping you engaged not in the adverts but in what it is that triggers you to keep looking at your screen with an occasional advert. The problem with this method of delivery is there is no morals to it, as in if your profile recognises you are interested in conspiracy theories then it will share more of that type of content with you rather than anything else so it seems that what you are looking at is far bigger than what it is and more importantly the bot doesn’t care if its accurate or true, its aim is to keep you looking at the screen so it can sell some chewing gum.
So, we have misinformation and distrust spreading on a Global scale to the point where the FBI are concerned in the USA that people will take to the streets with guns to protest Trumps loss of the election. There is no balance you only see what you believe and the other side only see what they believe so the divide gets bigger as you can’t understand why the other side would reach such ludicrous conclusions, but the truth is they don’t see what you see and you don’t see what they see and the more interest you show the more it gives you so it can have another sale. A viscous circle which needs to end. The Covid-19 deniers who think there is a global conspiracy for a reset, seems such an extreme view but if that’s all your feed on Facebook Instagram or even when you Google something it only gives you what you want instead of the balance that is required in order to make an informed decision, then it’s easy to see how conclusions are made.
So where to now, how to fix this? First we have to see there is an issue, do you find yourself endlessly starring at social media? Check out your screen times and notice how many hours you are engaged. Hours slip passed unnoticed and all the time we fall deeper into its spell as it uses our own phycology against us, notice how TV is not allowed to advertise things before certain times but social media and the internet can do what it likes. There is no regulation and the companies making all the money aren’t going to want to loose there revenue so they won’t do it without being forced to and most importantly we have to want them to, we have to want a better clearer future for the next generation so that when they look for information it gives it them on what they asked rather than what the bot thinks they will like in order to sell some jeans. Morals need to be enforced onto the internet or we will all face more and more dilemma’s in the future.
Check out ‘The Social Dilemma’ on Netflix a documentary that challenges the tech giants to look at themselves and their morals.