Many tech influences like Tristan Harris are trying to teach you something. About Silicon Valley and what they are doing to ruin minds everywhere. It is more than spending too much time online, looking at screens, and putting false stock in social media. There is a strategy for what makes you look longer and more often and that is the core problem.
The Rabbit Hole
Social Media’s product is your attention. In turn, these companies are working hard to engineer interest. For longer and more frequent sessions. What works for that? Tunneling your attention to things you already believe or have interest in. What is the danger to society in this? Why do you hear Silicon Valley insiders talking about it like brainwashing? Software chooses to show you content you likely already agree with. Because it is the best predictor of interest. Lazy maybe, but it works. New content does not get through or score well. Connect you to others who think the same as you do. Curiosity and critical thinking die off slowly. You don’t actively look for new news or content. The scary result is we become a society of isolated pockets with divisive ideologies. Everything is click bait and the vicious circle kicks in. Your apps all run you down your current niche rabbit hole. Your phone and apps are programmed to hold back notifications until specific times that promote the constant use of your phone. No clicks for boring real news, different insights, or new rabbit holes to explore. Millions of clicks for tragedy porn, and the politics and interests that tickle your current fancy. Intellect suffers due to the immediate lazy click bait. That is what the influencers are worried about.
Silicon Valley Innocent
I don’t believe content companies such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube should be responsible for policing of content. It goes down a road of censorship that I don’t believe in. They are just the platform. We should keep it that way. I personally don’t use Facebook but a few times a year. Even in the beginning something about my personality made me avoid Facebook. To be blunt I don’t think promoting my best perceived self is a good use of time. But social media and Silicon Valley have done a lot of good. People love it. It will continue. Much more good than bad. There is always the bad. Don’t forget that false information and manipulation is not new in any way. Just the scale of distribution has changed. But it is still wrong at the end of the day. This part of the message I think Silicon Valley influencers are getting wrong. They think it is a dumb argument. That we now have the ability and intellect, or they do, to purge all nonsense and lies forever. That would go wrong somehow. Look at the cable news companies. There are only a few licenses and they filter and cater to the fringes.
Turn of as many settings as you can. Browse in private mode as anonymously as possible. Follow all sides of the issues. Research and take in more than you should. Click on different kinds of stories. Follow, I don’t know, someone you don’t know that may have something to offer. Actively pursue different news sources of local, national, and world news. Fight back dummy humans! If software can easily predict you, think of what kind of nonsense you are being fed. Then ask yourself am I a sheep? Recognize that we live in a world where content is just everywhere and ubiquitous. All with a purpose to sway you. A call to action either explicit or subliminal. Practice human organic contact. Talk to strangers when you are out and about. Get to know people in your immediate community. Call people on the phone. Battling the technology and software rabbit hole is a full-time marathon. But I have faith that real news will come back. Worthy content will win in the end. Person to person connection will win. The information age is young and think of all the dumb stuff you did when you were 20.