Last night I watched The Social Dilemma on Netflix. Today, I’m exiting Instagram, the only social media app I use.
When I was in high school we had to read George Orwell’s book “1984.” If you haven’t read it, well, your loss. It’s about the state controlling your mind. Pretty far out stuff in the 1970s when I read it.
Today, something far more frightening is happening. A handful of computer programmers are controlling what information we’re being exposed to on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and other social media apps. Well, actually, they don’t control much of it anymore because the artificial intelligence they created in the form of algorithms has control of the wheel. That AI is taking note of your every click or tap in that app…every single one. And it’s feeding you information to influence what you click on next…what you buy, what you see, what you read.
So what, you say? Well, these social media platforms are widely considered the number one source of fake news. The person looking at the video or article has no way of knowing it’s fake news. ‘Cause, hey, if it’s on the internet, it’s true, right? (If you believe that, you can probably stop reading now).
64% of the people who joined extremist groups on Facebook did so because the algorithms (AI) steered them there.
Children who have been cyberbullied are 3x more likely to contemplate suicide compared to their peers.
One in four children surveyed have had online sexual encounters with adults via social media.
The level of social media use on a given day is linked to a significant correlated increase in memory failure the next day.
One month away from Facebook leads to a significant improvement in emotional well-being. In an experimental study of over 1,600 American adults (who normally used Facebook for up to an hour each day), deactivating Facebook accounts led to a significant increase in emotional well-being (including a reduction in loneliness and an increase in happiness), as well as a significant reduction in political polarization.
If you decide you’d like to make some changes in your own social media use, there is great stuff on the social dilemma website, but also here is a straightforward list of suggestions about how to take control: https://www.humanetech.com/take-control
We each have to do what feels right to us, and my view of social media — or even using Google to search for data — has been forever changed. Today, I’m grateful that I happen to own a website where there is no advertising (other than maybe a WordPress banner) and no content that I didn’t create myself. So I can come here and be in control, rather than being controlled.
And if you think you aren’t being controlled while you travel on the internet….well, good luck to you, my friend.
The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable.
James A. Garfield
None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.Johann Wolfgang von Goethe