Most people have contact with social media in some way from Facebook to SnapChat, Pinterest to Twitter, Tumblr to Instagram, there are literally hundreds or maybe thousands of social media websites. There are many positive outcomes for social media: Finding family members and friends who you have lost contact with, meeting new people, stress relief, and learning new things. Social media can be a time suck.
There is a dark side to social media and not the Darth Vader dark side either, but a sneaky right in your face dark side. There’s a quote in business when it comes to social media, ‘If you’re not paying for the product; you are the product”. Are you paying for social media? No, this makes you the product, not social media. The game is advertising and social media is using you to make billions of dollars and many times you aren’t even aware it is happening.
Everything a person does on the internet is being collected and stored for future use, there are banks of computers on land and under the sea (the cloud is mostly under the sea. Insert song tune.) These computers store every place a person has been on the internet. Algorithms are constructed to read this information and help social media navigate you. As we navigate the waves of information on the internet, these algorithms give us the information we think we want and the strategically important information is probably left out, it’s all about money, not the people.
John B. Watson who is known as the father of behaviorism and the father of modern advertising would be proud of how easily advertisers on the internet manipulate the populace. Facebook has been accused of using subliminal messages to see if they can control people. It has been proven that other countries insert dummy accounts to help control how people behave. The general rule on social media is if you come across a group or page where everything on the page incites you then you probably have a page from another country who wants you angry all the time.
The business model on social media, mainly Facebook and Google uses algorithms to modify people’s behavior. To keep sanity intact the best thing to do is drop social media completely. In a way, people are losing their souls. There isn’t much free will. They know when you are sleeping. They know when you’re awake. They know what sites you go to, so be good for goodness sake. If ten people are on Facebook, each person is looking at the reality of what Facebook wants them to see, all ten people may see a different version of Facebook. The algorithm is set up for each person to see different versions of reality. Usually, a person will not see different points of view on a subject to make an objective opinion, more than likely, a person will see only things that reinforce what they already believe.
Social media is turning people into jerks. The algorithms will present only one side on an issue combine this with people not seeking out the facts leads to anger and anger leads to hate and hate leads to the Dark Side (thank you, Master Yoda). Take this hate and hide behind a screen and keyboard and you have a perfect storm for being a jerk. It doesn’t help when leaders of the world spew out inaccurate information on purpose to help out their situations making it seem like it is alright for everyone to do the same thing. The lack of empathy shown when people are on social media is amazing and no person is immune, not even children.
Is this social media’s fault? People are to blame to a point, letting their emotions and good judgment take over their empathy and morals. Social media and phone companies are setting people up to fail and people seem like willing animals to the slaughter. The Center for Humane Technology seems to understand the problem,
“As long as social media companies profit from outrage, confusion, addiction, and depression, our well-being and democracy will continue to be at risk.”
Thanks to the carefully structured phones, emails, search engines, and social media we have gone from the information age to the disinformation age, from utopia to dystopia. As long as people fall for clickbait, we as a world are in serious trouble.
Weighing the positive of social media against the intentional manipulation from businesses and governments, is social media worth it? Remember it’s not just social media but your phone and email too. There isn’t much choice in the digital age, however, there still is free will, so surf wisely or am I am I manipulating you?