After years of the Silicon Valley billionaire bro boys' collective damage to society, folks are making better choices. Will we?
This morning I stumbled on one of those terrific stories which presages a bad time for some of the sites many have come to hate: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter (whatever the hell that is these days).
Couldn't have been more delighted, really.
From the article:
Major platforms such as Facebook have long abandoned their goal to "bring the world closer together" in favor of "profit-motivated and engagement-inducing designs" that keep us hooked and drive growth, Ben Grosser, an artist and faculty associate at Harvard University's Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, told me. A flood of research has found that this shift in the companies' priorities has shaped everyday users for the worse.
For all the "good" that was promised by those sites, truth, they have also shredded the fabric of society in other ways which have damaged lives, countries and institutions. The time of their monopoly is over in more ways than one, as countries all over the world work hard to rein in the Googles and Amazons and the rest.
The Wild West of smart young bucks who grew into mature greedy robber barons is changing. Personally, I'm doing a tap dance. Unless your business model depends on these sites, bet you are, too.
I suspect that the business side will morph and evolve. We need it too much, and profit is ever what this country loves more than its people. So its up to the people to make better choices, and some are.
What that means is that more and different sites will be able to thrive, and we'll have more choices. There's a down side to that, at least for some of us.
What Shubham Agarwal describes about what's coming sounds more complex and messy. We might have to do a lot more sleuthing to choose what works for us and our lifestyles. I want to believe that's a better future.
I prefer simple. The problem with simple is that the desire for one-size-fits-all gave us Amazon.com. Google. In this regard, our addiction to convenience has been quite costly.
This video is very close to the bone for too many of us, especially in these days of terrifying news which affects people in our own Patreon community, such as the current war in Israel.
On one hand, social media allows all of us to know how our friend Nurit is. On the other it can spread patently false and inflammatory information which has and continues to do terrible damage. The classic double-edged sword.
Those who lead the Facebooks and Twitters of the world have made specious and puerile arguments about free speech, which kindly, isn't free. It's paid for in blood, including mine and my fellow veteran brothers and sisters.
Nothing is free. Our irreplacable time is sucked out of us, our lives lived on screens while the world is waiting for us to get back to the business of loving and protecting it, living in it as we were born to be.
That's only going to happen when enough of us pull ourselves away from our screens and take our lives back.
While this shift, or whatever it is, is likely to take a good long time, people want intimacy again. Our modern-day social media moguls, the Rupert Murdochs-in-training, will be fighting and clawing to retain their stranglehold on society.
People crave the smaller group, the connections, laughter, losses and sense of belonging which has been stripped from us in the name of appealing to our bestial selves. I think we're tired of being sold "connections" and have that translate in real life into bitterly, horribly lonely.
Social media is here to stay, but the generations brought up on it get to redefine how it will be used in the future. So many people's livelihoods, including mine, depend at least in part on this medium, but there are parts of it which are terribly unhealthy.
To that, I'm not much of a fan for the Big Tobacco argument that it's a choice, given the extraordinary research on addiction which went into creating the slick dopamine hits which hoover our attention. The argument about how it's a choice doesn't hold when we're talking about very young children for whom the phone is a cheap babysitter.
Witness the creators of Juul, profiled on Netflix's Broken and Big Vape, who started out all about integrity and sold their souls when they knew that their real market was children.
American businesses, from cereals to cell phones to facial filters are all about addicting the children.
No better teacher than the tactics of Big Tobacco.
It is always about mining the current kids for the NextGen of addicts, whatever the product.
We've lost a lot of people to these addictions in the search for profits no matter what. So when young people like Shubham Agarwal write about these kinds of sea changes, I get excited. If they can do it, so can anyone.
Perhaps the pendulum is swinging the other way. Perhaps not. But this article invited me to dream a little of a time when we spent our days day dreaming, playing, being fully in life.
With phones as a servant, a sidebar, not the center of our existence.
That's a future I could love.
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