I have been thinking a great deal lately about the toxicity of the so-called social networks. From the hate being spewed on Twitter, often from “bots” designed to create discord and spread misinformation, to world-wide manipulation of democratic elections. It occupies my thoughts more than I would like, and until something dramatic happens either by government or the corporations themselves I don’t see more than one solution. Stop using the corporate sites, and look for alternatives.
Much like drug dealers, Twitter, Facebook (and others) give their stuff away. Why? Because they want us to stick around. We are the product. These dealers want us to share more information: add more tags; tag more people (facial recognition!); geo-tag pictures (conveniently embedded in digital photos!) from where we post content. Plus the things we like — or dislike, or love, or makes us sad or angry or hate or even laugh. Constantly.
That data is then mined to create profiles on us. Couple this with benignly-named cookies you pick up as you enjoy the (currently) open Internet, you let Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and well, pretty much anyone who has a website, know exactly everywhere else on the web you have visited *.
Wow, I really do sound like a conspiracy nut. And you should see the stuff I deleted! But stick with me. It’s really not outrageous.
I too am a participant. I have been on Facebook and Twitter for 10 years now, and have shared countless photos, restaurant reviews, check-ins, etc. I have been using the Internet openly (for the most part) for more than a quarter century. My domain, and most of my handles are my real name. I am not trying to warn people off this stuff. No one listens to me anyway. I have no megaphone or amplifier.
And, honestly, I personally think it is too late at this point. Capitalism, governments, corporations, are all too big and intertwined at this point.
Ok, I do sound more wack than woke.
But it all feels very different now. Learning how people’s feelings and beliefs were manipulated by others in order to sow misinformation and hate, has left me with a sour taste in my mouth, and my opinion of humanity is at an all-time low.
The fact that Twitter will ban bots designed to help uncover and expose these horrible people, and not the hateful people themselves makes me angry.
Anyway, I have a couple of thousand words on how unsettling it all is. Writing this entry has been temporarily cathartic.
This is being posted at midnight of the new year, and it is the beginning of an experiment. Let’s see if anyone notices.