I think the crux of any issue whether that be social, political, economic or technical is educating people into understand why problems are problems and then making them feel visceral, because if you can’t relate, then they’ll be no desire to act. Couple that with infinite scrolling, algorithms which remove content we’ve seen or doesn’t think you’d want to see and short news cycles means unless you’ve latched on for some reason, important things are pushed to the periphery very quickly.
Our society has been corrupted, businesses value profit over hate, bigotry, and disinformation.
At the end of Part 1 I made the following recommendations to understand some of the current issues with social media platforms:
- Watch The Social Dilemma
- Go check out the Center for Human Technology website
- Watch A few good reasons why you should stop using Facebook
- Watch Jaron Lanier's Why you should delete your social media accounts
If you feel inspired to want to delete your social media accounts Just Delete Me is a useful resource which explains how you go about doing that for a number of platforms but this does come with some downsides. Primarily connection, you lose a line of sight with family and friends and as these platforms provide a reliable method for instant messaging (and gratification) it's difficult to pry them away to other more palatable platforms e.g. Signal (Secure IM Alternative), Mastodon (Twitter Alternative), Pixelfed (Instagram Alternative) but the FOMO is like super uber crack and we are in the midst of a pandemic so it's understandable that priorities are elsewhere. Alternatively you could make an argument that it would be better to make change from within the platform as there's more potential for influence and raising awareness but ultimatley it's the platform creators that need to take heed, as they're ultimately responsible for their users wellbeing.
We're on the cusp of a post truth era, in 2016 the Oxford Dictionary made post-truth the word of the year and things are only going to get more interesting and the lines between what is "real", facts and truth more blurred.
Even Channel 4 had a pop at deepfakes with the alternative queens speech, which has certainly been keeping ofcom busy but through the barage of media churn let's not lose sight of what it is we're actually consuming. We now live in a world where people in power can just drop "fake news" if they don't like the information being put out which consumes everyones time refuting, debating and adding column inches and feed posts leading to the news cycle passing and we're on to the next. Couple that with a spectrum of disinformation campains and the increasing ease of producing convincing fake videos it could be argued that increased doubt and the errosion of trust and truth was an inevitability.
The answer to these problems is certainly difficult but I think (hope) the silver lining here is it's going to lead to more people becoming aware of the idea of truth (the Epistemologists will be happy) and asking themselves what it is and what's needed to really know if something is true and have expectations of others that they're capable of decerning the truth and with that the world will adapt, the hackers will hack, the trolls will troll and conspiracies will thrive. It was always going to be this way.