Watching the social dilemma uncovered an element of social media many people have been experiencing, but it hasn’t been talked about much. A part of that is because social media is a new phenomenon & we haven’t had chance to collect the data on it’s true effectiveness yet. The main social media culprits are facebook, snapchat, instagram and twitter, especially in the West. All of these companies have grown to be billion dollar multinational corporations with huge influence. I’ve been on twitter for six months and I can say it is a cerebral cesspool with all sorts of ideas and insults being thrown around for fun. One of the reasons why I think twitter is good however, is because of the potential for psychological use, and I think many people use it for a mental clean out without intention. On social media platforms, no matter what your personal ideology is, you will always find someone or a group of people to confirm your perceived correctness. that’s good in a way because it’s a way for lonely minds to get company, but confirmation bias will raise up quickly. You can find answers to questions you want and you see this with the useless bullshit questions people ask randomly on twitter to try and maintain a ‘fanbase’, but it helps maintain interaction. If you have anger problems it’s the perfect place to vent, and project all of your internalised insecurities and negative emotions onto any unsuspected twitter user.
I’ve heard both sides of the argument since the show was aired on Netflix. The first, obvious agreement with the premise of the programme, finding the nefarious element to social media as well as our fundamental weakness as human beings in allowing it to encroach on our lives. The opposing side, sings the praises of social media and it’s incredible impact on how we live our lives and socialise today. I can definitely see the positive in both sides and just like anything else in the world both sides are relevant. The social dilemma has ex-employees from the world’s biggest social media, explaining how the algorithms used behind Twitter, Facebook Instagram etc are designed to keep you scrolling and clicking. Attention is what they want from you so they ensure the user interface and experience keeps your eyes looking. If you spend a longer time online, you will see more advertising, and that’s how these companies make their money. It seems to be working because Facebook has around 1.8billion daily users. There’s 8 billion people on the Earth, & nearly a quarter of them use a social media platform which is designed to grab and keep your attention, so the amount of marketing and selling being done must by staggering.
This is where the other side of the conversation comes on strong and there are probably thousands of companies who have been able to reach out to thousands of people through social media offering products and providing services, which pre-social media would’ve been impossible. Connectivity between human beings through the means of technological improvement has become an important way for people to shop and experience. When I first started to use Instagram years ago, I never saw advertisements, but over time the random adverts started to appear even more and they became more tailored. It’s now reached a point where ninety per cent of what I see, are products I like so I know my information is being stored and used in a targeted manor. Some people may like this, because it cuts out the time wasted searching through products and you get a more lean browsing experience. The problem with that is you’re never going to find products you may not usually go for if you’re constantly being targeted based on your past purchases. It stifles the possibility of new purchases, new experiences and growth of individuals, but through social media purchasing. We always have the option to switch off, right?
The future of social media is grounded in the understanding that the algorithm is more powerful than we originally perceived. A deeper respect will be given to the technology as we emerge from the damage it does to the younger generations, and we’ll realise that we have to make changes. We’re not wired to constantly interact with strangers from all over the world, getting the likes, the views, the smiley faces and what’s more important, the lack of likes. We regularly hear about the most famous videos, the funny videos, the emotional stories, the super funny tweets, these showcase the side of social media when things go right, and we all gravitate towards it. Re-tweet, re-post, show our friends send it in to TV shows, in a sense we’re truly entertained or even proud of what we see, but that’s the tip of the needle because for every successful social media post there’s thousands of posts which turn to dust in the wind. When you look at it like that, for the most part, the internet is full of failure. We don’t see the dud posts, the unfunny posts, the posts that nobody cares about and I’m sure there are many more of these that there are popular ones. Creators understand that there’s a formula and try and use it with knowledge of the algorithm ensure posts get to the most people. So not only do you have the tech itself, focussed on keeping you addicted, the content creators are doing the same thing. They will try and make you feel good, or make you feel bad, and there’s no longer any space for the average.
When we first invented the wheel in 3500 bc, it revolutionised the world and especially in transportation. Business boomed, national and international trade would’ve increased and at the same time the human being changed also. The first automobile was invented in the late 1800’s and we polluted the world for over another 2000 years and at the same time evolved again. Now we have electric supercars and a Shanghai train which travels over 250mph. This is not the pinnacle of transportation technology, but we’ve come a hell of a long way since the first wheel was created and I can imagine there was a lot of negative and positive over the course of the transportation journey. Tim Berners Lee invented the world wide web in 1989. We’re thirty one years in to the most impactful invention to ever hit mankind. We won’t have a true understanding of the internet and social media until we’re a few hundred years in at least. Generations will have to be born three or four lifetimes into it for us to understand what it even is. We rarely talk about the time before the wheel was invented, and at that time, what we knew to be a human being would be significantly different to the coke guzzling, Iphone addicted human beings we have today. This is literally the genesis of technology, and some of the technology will live on, but the path we take will see real changes in how we utilise and experience the internet and social media.