Social media companies not only attack your attention like an opioid-like addiction, but they then use the information they collect, which you may prefer to keep private, to make money. Taylor Dotson, an associate professor of social science at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, discusses at The New Atlantis, what can be done. He writes a long thoughtful piece, concluding with:
But I wonder if we shouldn’t direct more attention toward the character of our offline lives. And perhaps “bribe” isn’t the right word for our relationship with many modern technologies, because that relationship seems equally defined by a kind of resignation to previous ways of life being slowly snuffed out by the seemingly inexorable march of “progress.”
Social networks are not attractive simply because of the services they offer, but because they are increasingly the only game in town. Perhaps we look to them in order to fill the void left by shrinking networks of friends, ever-more spiritless neighborhoods, plummeting levels of social and political trust, and declining associational life. Peer-to-peer surveillance thrives because online dogpiling, call outs, and screaming into the virtual void satisfy an unmet need.
Online pathologies would not be so powerful if our offline lives nurtured us such that we forget to record a public freakout for the crowd’s pleasure or ire, such that we don’t care that someone is wrong on the Internet. Breaking up the crowdsourced panopticon may be less a matter of governing technological change than of fostering societies where not so many people want to play online prison guard.
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