Sunday, December 18, 2022

Time to Demote Social Media to Super-Market Tabloid Status

Because corporations are not elected, they cannot be voted out, and yet they have become pseudogovernmental by virtue of their wealth, power, and the reach of their technological systems. Their leaders insist that they, and they alone, know what is best for us—from what information we should see to how much privacy we should retain. Increasingly, these companies have placed themselves in the role of determining how we move about in the world, literally and figuratively, and their power to define our reality increasingly extends to the power to decide elections in the US and other nations, taking away our most fundamental rights as citizens to self-determination." Mar Hicks, "When Did the Fire Start" in Your Computer Is On Fire

It's time to demote social media's status in our lives.

The problem with social media systems like Twitter, is that we have given them too much power over us. They have become "pseudo-governmental," to use the term used by Hicks (2021), which means they become the unelected governors over the information diet we consume. 

Place an autocratic, narcissistic CEO in charge of such companies, which is what we have in Elon Musk, and the real danger is that the social media system becomes at best a polluted information ecosystem flooded with misinformation and nonsense. At worse, the social media system becomes a propaganda mechanism, promoting what a CEO like Musk thinks is best for us. The question then becomes do we really want someone like Musk deciding what information is relevant for us? Do we want him determining what free speech means? I think not. 

We as consumers get to really decide how much value social media has in our lives. Honestly, I think we should not have listened to the techno-utopian hype in the 2000s that promised that social media would foster connections and community. It hasn't. We are more separated and polarized than ever, and social media is the cause. It is time to relegate social media to the same status as the super-market tabloid.

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