I’m writing this post because I’m concerned about the world. It’s become a dark place in some respects. Without being political, I want to talk specifically about social media and the way it can manipulate the way we think.
As a blogger, I generally love social media. It helps me promote my business, makes me money, and most importantly, connects me with friends both old and new. The concept of it is genius but there is also a grim and dark side.
Social media is addicting and that’s what Silicon Valley wants
Remember when we got along fine without a phone constantly in our hands? If we got stuck on the highway, we got out of our car and walked to the nearest call box. When I was a teen, my family and I went on a road trip from California to Colorado. On our way back, our rented RV broke down in the Mojave Desert. It was 120 degrees in the shade that day. My dad got out and walked 5 miles in the heat to call for a tow. Can you imagine doing that now?
Addictions often cause misunderstandings
Much of the content that we see in our social media feed has been tearing apart families, relationships, business connections, and even countries. Otherwise calm and well-meaning people are accusing those who don’t agree with them of being crazy, mixed-up, immoral, and worse. But this isn’t a surprise. The constant stream of misinformation, distorted facts, and confusion has been streaming under our noses for at least a decade and probably longer.
Whether it’s Russia, China, or some crazy geek in a basement, we are being fed mind-bending candy that we happily gobble up because it’s addictive. If you thought watching the TV series Dallas gave you a fix back in the late 70s, what we’re experiencing now is heroin mixed with ecstasy and we can’t get enough.
Watch this documentary
I was at a friend’s house (socially distanced) and we started watching a documentary on Netflix called “The Social Dilemma.” It’s brilliantly produced and takes you deep into the realm of how social media platforms are manipulating our thoughts mainly to make a buck.
We already know they know a hell of a lot about us. Just ask Edward Snowdon. If you practically even think about a product, all of a sudden you’ll see an ad for it when you browse online. It’s not unlike the game we used to play on car trips as kids. When your parents told you to look for a yellow VW, all of a sudden, they appeared everywhere.
The facts ma’am, just the facts
The Social Dilemma doesn’t take sides politically. You can be red, blue, purple, or chartreuse and it will be relevant for you. The plot focuses on a family whose members are addicted to their smartphones. They each receive messaging programmed in response to their social media engagement, interests, and views. Once they find their “tribe,” ads, memes, and select posts begin appearing in their feed.
I feel it’s important that as many people as possible watch the film to be aware of what to look out for. If you aren’t able to access it because you aren’t streaming Netflix, find a friend who has it and watch it together.
I also recommend you watch the YouTube video below featuring comic actor Sacha Baron Cohen. He’s a wacky guy on film, but I’ve seen him speak in person, and he’s highly intelligent. He doesn’t take sides either but offers timely insight on how to work together with media giants to effect change before we find our worl in a potentially deadly or out of control situation.
Being aware of how we are being influenced doesn’t mean you have to swear off social media for good and move into a yurt in the forest. Social media still offers plenty of value to keep us connected. However, we all need to open our eyes and take steps to make the online world a much more positive experience for everyone.
Let’s continue to share birthday cheers, pictures of our kids and pets, philosophize, learn new things, promote our businesses, and keep in touch on social media. But, let’s do it mindfully and carefully.