In our hands lies a powerful weapon. One that we use against ourselves daily, over and over again. Tearing away at our identities, and critical thinking abilities, paving a highway to our own demise. We are our own worst enemy and we are armed with harming ourselves, as well as others (i.e. President of the United States coaxing uninformed, irrational citizens to storm a government building and cause chaos all in Tweets).
The birth of social media was bound to happen as human beings have longed to connect with one another for millennia. Yet we are fallible by nature and prone to narcissism. What started as connecting with family and friends stretched to the extremities to garner attention and likes. Some call it being themselves, although they mimic a trend of that moment, which is garnering attention. Stunts, pranks, barely clothed, filters that distort and totally transform their natural state. Anything for a like. The attention in which they feel is needed due to the status quo set by the social media channel through which they engulf themselves. Yet how does this start?
That device they hold in their hand carefully and strategically gathers data, data that is more valuable now than anything else on Earth. This data is analyzed and sent through an algorithm to advertise, match you with content you may like, and worst, trigger your emotions. These emotions in which they have figured out what you feel strongly about and only feed you this information over and over. This algorithm filters out reality and any other biases. It is only focused on giving you something that you will stay engaged with. Unfortunately, with most individuals, this ends up being extreme views, ideology, required self-image, and other related content. Why not? You are supposed to have a mansion, 4 cars, the latest clothing styles, travel to exotic locales every other week, and have the latest technology. Right?
Most conspiracy theorists want to believe that the “big brother”, aka government, listening theory is relevant to all this. Possibly. In truth, it is capitalists that are guilty. Should I really have to explain this? When you own people’s data, you can manipulate them into just about anything you want. Whether it be purchasing, ideology, or influence. Your data tells a story and it is consistently working. Where we used to be defined by character and characteristics, we are now defined by data. More than you know.
When you own a smartphone, there are features that enable apps to track you, and gather preferences. I hate to admit that the tin foil hat crowd is correct. Your microphone, GPS, and even your cell data are used to build a data profile. At this point, you are either with me or thinking I am nuts. If you have ever shopped online and then opened a main webpage and saw items pertaining to what you were looking for, you will know. It is called cookies. They track your preferences, history, and choices. This and more go into an algorithm that builds your data profile. This algorithm is used for various reasons and sold by big data companies to other companies that would benefit from your information.
This algorithm knows you better than yourself in some cases. What you watch on Tik Tok, Facebook, and see on Instagram all go into this buildup of data. These channels and more will then make decisions on what you see by default that, again, will trigger emotions.
You see the same things over and over again. Your mind becomes oblivious to anything surrounding you. The ones they call influencers will change the way you think, feel, and believe. Critical thinking is now idle and not functioning. You consistently dive deeper into the vortex. You snap pictures of yourself and filter out your true self or state of mind. You post updates as if you are reaching a million followers. You partake in some “challenge” to be a part of something you feel is a community. All in hopes of likes and attention. The feeling of being wanted and accepted. I understand, it is a natural feeling.
Meanwhile, you frequent these platforms more and more to participate in life, as they call it. All the while strategic ads and accounts are being exposed to you behind the scenes. You feel you pay no mind to it, but it does get into your head. Psychology 101. Subconsciously placing tidbits of information into your head.
We have become dependent on smartphones. These handheld devices conveniently feed data to data farms. This develops customized feeds in our lives when we are engaged with it. Feverishly panicking if we misplace it, sometimes even for a few moments. Walk into a waiting room somewhere and look around. Same for an airport, coffee shop, etc. We have lost touch with each other on the plane of reality. We prefer the virtual world. Somewhere we can hide behind our electronic personas and be whomever we choose to be as we absorb what our peers feel they want us to see. A generation is coming that can not socialize verbally in person. Body language is dying and real human bonds will become extinct. The ability to accept who you are for what you are is diminishing.