A lot can be said about social media, in general. Where I’m an advocate for it, it has its disadvantages as well.
Why an advocate, because stating simply, it is a new form of medium, one like the television, the radio and the newspapers, which helps in connecting with people all over the world, helping you share your opinions, helps in building your community.
Where more advantages can be stated, there are much more disadvantages than that as well.
Disadvantages in the form of people behind the scenes of these social media platforms playing puppeteering with its consumers and consumers not being smart enough playing into their hands every time.
It leads to manipulation and alteration of thoughts and emotions and ultimately results in you rooting for something you didn’t know you had an interest in.
We saw a glimpse of this during the 2016 US Elections and the documentary based on that called ‘The Great Hack, on Netflix. I wouldn’t blame just the platforms or the people smartly using the platforms to their advantage but also the consumers who fall for these techniques.
Now, we have this great documentary which sheds greater light on these issues, from the platform’s point of view, The Social Dilemma, “a powerful exploration of the disproportionate impact that a relatively small number of engineers in Silicon Valley have over the way we think, act, and live our lives.”
Whilst a lot of what was shown here was already going through my mind for a while now, it was great to see, not just someone’s perspective of these problems, but to actually see professionals who have worked on these social media platforms and tools and to understand their perspective while making/creating them.
How easy it is for our attention to be captured, how easy is it for us to be manipulated, our behaviours to be changed, without even consciously noticing it.
Sure, someone might say, ‘I’m aware of these problems and the impact it has on people’ but then you let these same tools impact you too.
These very platforms, the people with the agenda using these platforms, use these tools to enrage the people, to anger them, to change their opinions – and every time they set their minds to it, its a success.
The amount of fake news that gets circulated, the engagement such news gets, how people easily believe them and the mob mentality takes over.
Time and again, we see situations and circumstances where these things happen and the documentary of this stature just slightly sheds a light on it.
The issue, of course, is much larger.
What can be done then?
Social Media is the present and the future, it’s only going to get more evolved and get more deeply rooted in to our lives.
As time passes, more and more platforms are going to pop up, with more tools to psychologically impact us.
People creating them are going to make money.
What can we, as the consumers do then?
Not everyone can keep their phones aside or start using flip phones like the previous times.
Setting our minds to it, creating systems around our life, having willpower added to the equation, every step needs to be taken one at a time.
Whether it is
- turning off notifications, or
- setting time limits to these platforms, or
- becoming aware of your screen time, or
- becoming aware of who you follow or whose content do you consume,
- whether the news you’re sharing is fake or authentic
- changing the position of your apps on the phone, so you get rid of the muscle memory, when it comes to automatically opening your phone and these apps within periods of time.
Small measures, small changes make the biggest impact in our lives.
This issue, if you seriously understand, is massive and needs to be solved one day a time.
I, personally, have faced these issues of social media addiction of checking the feed, checking the likes, doomscrolling, and every time I realize it, I try to come up with systems and measures to counter it.
Alas, the pit is deeper than it looks and I do fall in time and again, but at least I’m happy with the awareness of it, and the power to change my future steps.
This rant is never going to get over, nor this issue. The documentary is just the start of making us aware of these issues at hand, and hopefully we as the society rise and tackle this issue together.
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