Social media is too new a phenomenon for its effects to be determined with any accuracy. What we do know, however, is that they have worrying effects on our thinking, emotions, and lifestyle. They also contain mechanisms of ideological manipulation that are not always visible on superficial analysis.
For social media, which is ultimately business, human behavior is a commodity. You have the ability to examine it – with the aim of getting to know, understand and change it. It is particularly about change.
In addition to ideological manipulation, which is oriented towards the market and consumption, there are also ways to achieve that we rethink on a political and human level.
Many people wonder if social media can manipulate us ideologically and in the process completely change our perception of reality. Judging from the evidence on this, the answer is yes.
The mechanisms used for this are so subtle that it is impossible to see them. This is the most dangerous because social media is changing the way we think. So if we are not aware of this, how can we oppose social media?
Social media as a bubble of ideological manipulation
Social media causes us to become part of a bubble without even realizing it. They represent a reality specially developed for us. Among other things, they know our fears, needs, preferences and wishes.
Basically, it is we who decide who to follow or which topics interest us. A robot pays attention to this and sends us the relevant information.
Then algorithms decide for us. They indicate which contacts we see most often and which posts we should come across while surfing. If one of our contacts does not appear at a certain point in our network, that does not mean that his last post was a long time ago. The system just didn’t select its posts for our daily updates.
It is similar with content. We should not assume that the news or information we see is current or the most relevant. What is shown to us is a careful selection based on our personal preferences. Of course, how the market can win us over also plays a role.
In short, it is likely that we will ultimately think the world as it is presented to us on social media – even if it is not. We have access to a small bubble developed by a server and made available to us.
Reasons for caution
Anyone who has ever heard of Jaron Lanier knows that it is one of the greats of Silicon Valley , the Mecca of all computer systems worldwide. In fact, he’s one of the most brilliant computer scientists who ever existed, and at the same time a person who is critical of social media.
Lanier previously thought that the Internet was the last bastion of democracy. Today, however, he sees the Internet – and especially social media – as a factory with absurd tribal leaders on the one hand and idiotic people on the other.
Lanier wrote a book that became a bestseller. It’s called “Ten Reasons Why You Must Delete Your Social Media Accounts Immediately”. Each of these reasons corresponds to the individual chapters of the book and relates to social media. The reasons are:
- You are losing your free will.
- Social media is a form of madness in our day and age.
- People stupid.
- The truth is being manipulated.
- What you say becomes meaningless.
- The ability to feel compassion is destroyed.
- People get unhappy.
- Social media promote precarious working conditions.
- The authentic exercise of politics is prevented.
- Social media hate your soul.
The kingdom of equality
Why do Lanier and other great thinkers like Zygmunt Bauman claim that social media leads to idiocy? Are you exaggerating? Unfortunately, everything indicates that this is not the case. The Internet does not connect us to one another, but rather one to one and the other to the other.
This means that micro-dictatorships are promoted. These are small areas occupied by virtual people that serve to confirm certain ideas.
We’ve gotten more radical and stubborn with social media – and easier too. We think we are smarter and better when we develop skills to connect with the ‘other’; not with those who are similar.
Remaining in this bubble and believing that it corresponds to the world makes us stupid. We also assume that we are always right. Our overall view is reduced to a minimum.
In the end, we live as if reality is tiny and we dominate it. This is the main sign of our ignorance today and the main consequence of ideological manipulation through social media.