“Anybody who doesn’t change their mind a lot is dramatically underestimating the complexity of the world we live in.” – Jeff Bezos
WHAT IS THIS COMPLEX ADDICTION?
You plant seeds every single day, in the world and people, with each of your thoughts, words, and actions. You influence in a real way when you’re making a dent in the universe. How far have we come to observe the revolution that began in 2004 – “the birth year of Facebook” – that year, holidaying in Bali with a bunch of friends for new year’s celebration, I heard a girl mention having studied with Mark Zuckerberg at Harvard University; that instantly intrigued me towards creating a Facebook account. It started as a hobby at first, used for connecting with friends, sharing pictures and memories. Having witnessed upgrades over time, it was fascinating how BBM, G+, Skype, WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, FaceTime, and more such online portals came along to join this digital parade. Google was the ‘Superdad’ where we unequivocally believed in the information it provided. Today, I’m proud, although a little frightened to have been a spectator to the massive monster of algorithms created by far. From every desk in dorms that was a part of creating what we are manoeuvring today, debating over digital vs. old-school mindsets, the fad has been growing around us just like the seconds ticking on the ‘Metronome’ on the south side of the Union Square in New York City. Two climate activists named Gan Golan and Andrew Boyd watched as the display changed into the climate clock – the pinnacle of a two-year dream come true. Humanity only has a little over 7 years to meet this very ambitious and some say unattainable goal. But Boyd says, “Whether or not we choose to accept this timeline, the laws of physics don’t much care.” Like he says you can’t negotiate with reality, you can’t negotiate with science. When scientists are telling us that the next 7 years are crucial to the fate of earth and humanity, AI ex-leaders and critics are claiming that if social media influences won’t get beneath the right techniques to filter the side effects, we might end up in a civil war.
COMPULSIVE ONLINE BEHAVIOUR
Citing the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data breach of early 2018, the personal data of millions of Facebook users was harvested without consent, predominantly for political advertising. Many business accounts that used promotional services from Facebook and Instagram were accused of exploiting this visibility by those who were somewhere doing the same activity through the dark web. The arguments were getting intense and people were jumping to conclusions. It’s kind of reassuring though, that while watching a series of documentaries on different digital platforms, I got concerned about the virtual generation around us. The benefits with the repercussions are both we all need to be aware of. My research, however, to safeguard our lives and maintain the privacy we all need along with enjoying the perks of being a free-willed user has grown strong. We’ve become products in the giant hands of software companies, which are not only selling us their marketing strategies but also subduing our minds by feeding databases to our brain cells like a drug – getting us addicted with each swipe on the screen. We need to understand the importance of controlling the machines which right now control us. Remaining in touch with an organic lifestyle along with enjoying the ease and facilities of online services is a skill we need to master.
BENEFITS OF THE GIGANTIC POLARISATION
Saving resources and increasing productivity
Life becomes easier when we pay utility bills online, bank virtually, and operate appliances remotely. The interconnection of devices and information saves substantial resources, eliminating various complexities. In turn, productivity rises giving more space for creative growth, like Amazon Dash buttons that make life super-convenient and wastage-free. Moreover, tracking of mobile devices through IoT has proven to be the most valuable in mitigating the weaknesses often associated with ‘ordinary’ physical security methods.
Knowledge assessment and updation
Gone are the days of educational opportunities being limited. Pick any industrial technology or subject you want to learn and the internet brings everything right on your computer screen. Sitting in a small town in the country and dreaming about studying in any part of the world is not a dream anymore. Learn whenever and however you want to – the online technology has made the ocean your depth and skies your limit.
Networking connections eliminating distance
Today, we have woven an online network of connections with all our distant friends and family at almost no cost. Finding a rare foreign product in another country is possible courtesy of social media. Even the most severe medical emergencies including organ donations have become quick and straightforward with healthcare organizations from all around the world corresponding easily with each other.
Faster, optimal use of facilities
Simpler verification processes for products and services are now possible, thanks to infrastructure which continues to evolve. Whether it’s natural calamities or health crisis, graphics on pandemic counts or fires in California, online services are actively guiding us towards health and safety. Today, if a human life can’t reach out to the world, the world reaches out to it.
Relaxing on your lounger and watching US election debates, Trevor Noah nailing humour on his the daily show while the morning coffee is brewing, the current scrutiny about Bollywood putting the nation on alert, spiritual gurus starting YouTube channels imparting their wisdom, global warming debates and strategies of unity to make the world a better place – for all of these events in the world, there are digital mediums which are working 24×7, providing immediate updates to and for all the possible areas of the world.
Artificial intelligence and fruition of algorithms
Machines are now programmed to mimic the human brain. We are catered our preferences based on our online behaviour as these AI systems note our privacy, perception, knowledge, planning, etc. – it’s like having a customised service for every need, desire, plan in your mind. We now have man-made robotic personal assistants which make daily life much easier. When these social media services started off some over a decade ago, they didn’t start with this goal; but things just got added over time and it became our virtual assistant.
REPERCUSSIONS OF PROFITEERING MECHANISMS
There’s an old proverb that means you shouldn’t sit on the back of a lion if you don’t know how to ride it because then the lion will ride you. When we surrendered control to the digital mass, it towered over us creating a generation of “zombie zealots” where every news or political propaganda has turned into brainless campaigns followed by massive crowd revolution. The virtual zealots created by a certain part of Silicon Valley have resorted to manipulation for their own agendas. And the sad part is ordinary minds are far from understanding how their weaknesses are exploited for bigger benefits which are not always in favour of humanity.
Cookie baskets landing up in hotjar – the ethical dystrophy
AI’s Frankenstein lab of profits
At its peak, each and every tech expert burned out creating strategies to make Google and other digital giants more addictive and revenue-generating, without realizing its long-term outcome. One by one, each tech consultant warned companies to show some ethical concern, eventually resigning. But, businesses were booming and these monsters were getting powerful in AI’S Frankenstein lab, engrossed with profits. We gave power to Silicon Valley startups creating this rat race of earning more, bringing more business to software companies, erecting a ruthless psycho-analysis where invading every account holder’s private life and playing with their psyche is a priority to increase the volume of sales and marketing.
Doom and gloom
In this new world, your real identity is what you have conquered on Google or Facebook, and that matters more than what your actual life will achieve. Living in this calculated routine is like falling headfirst into a quicksand of bigger problem like violation of privacy, database hacking through phonebook, emails, pictures, chats, etc.; most of us are obliviously living a life being smart and tech-savvy but at the cost of sacrificing our privacy and safety.
It’s not just fake news; it’s fake news with severe consequences that incites rioting in the world. The hatred spewed online reflects anger and frustration building up in humans, resulting in violent outbursts under the cover of anonymity. This new culture and excessive hatred has grown on social media channels where Youtube or news channels are showing dramatized incidences to increase their viewership and engagement. The unethical tribalism culture is increasing and getting bigger and bigger with every crisis taking place around the world, latching on to more people.
Mental health concerns
Plastic surgeons have coined a new syndrome called ‘Snapchat Dysmorphia’ where many young patients are wanting surgeries done which makes their face look like one of the filters. As per the Netflix documentary “The Social Dilemma”, cases of depression have increased in teenagers looking at fake luxuries and lifestyle online; many have experienced disappointment and resorted to pirated purchases boosting that industry. This had spiked the feelings of inferiority among social media users who cannot afford such stuff to display.
DAILY ROUTINE TIPS TO QUELL THE CONTROL OF THE MACHINES
- Fix a daily time for social media activity – enough to keep yourself updated without addiction
- Teach your children the purpose of social media and create rules of usage so that they don’t become dependent – use it for knowledge, not for obsession
- Log out every time after surfing social media and keep your location access off
- Use different devices for important mails and storing phonebook contacts
- Understand terms and conditions of an app, read, and then agree to it.
- While accepting cookies to subscribe for free, don’t become a product when you don’t buy services of a product.
- Try and keep yourself updated with cyber laws and orders – you can help someone who’s unaware if need arises
- Don’t lose out on your handwriting skills; scribble in notepads, make target notes with a pen to keep it neat.
- Use the digital medium to save the planet. Be smarter than the machine because they were created to serve, not to rule.
- Don’t blindly follow everything which is being offered on your timeline. It’s a new market where products, ideas, concepts are being sold to empower the revenues. You don’t need to buy everything.
Digital magazines, newspapers, e-commerce, online workplaces are the future which will be keeping the global environment better and saving natural resources. Utilising programmed software benefits and reinventing the safety of privacy guidance will be the key to go hand-in-hand. Those who don’t know how to grow will remain outdated and that’s exactly what applies in today’s time where each of us needs to understand that programs and algorithms are very much here to stay. Sometimes it’s a good thing to notice the side-effects of a phenomenon, more so than the advantages. This is where the algorithms and AI come into picture and the sooner we understand the balance, the better our life would be. As quoted by Eva Chen, the director of fashion partnerships at Instagram, who believes it’s always preferable to focus on what we dislike about social media, comprehending it, rather than just thriving on its utility towards us, this amazing businesswoman has become an inspiration for many.