So I just finished watching a 4 Corners doco [EDIT: Link works but no video cause they want money for views so don’t bother] on how kids both utilize and are utilized by social media and how the world runs on ‘likes’
Big companies that own these platforms sell the data they collect on user behaviour and sell it to advertisers. As a user of social media I’ve personally done everything I possibly can to ensure I don’t get any ads at all or the least possible on anything I use because I grew up in the era of pop-ups and in your face advertising where you were bombarded with that shit the moment you turned on your computer. I also studied advertising for my diploma which really just made it so much worse, as a result I’ve shut it out from my life as much as I now only allow space for things I’m specifically interested in. Otherwise I actively seek out new things through my own channels – which is all fine and dandy – but I realise how this can be a folly on my part too as I may miss out on things that are of genuine interest to me because of my narrow channel of information.
The actual scary thing I suppose about data being collected is that they’re creating a profile of me that even I don’t really understand. It’s having people you don’t know knowing more about you than you do yourself, which is really just unnerving. It makes me feel like less than a person, like I’m defined by the data they collect. It takes away from my individuality. Is this a good thing? I’d say yes. If I was a machine. In the past privacy about any or all of these things was always paramount (at least that’s the way they made it out to be). There would always be a disclaimer stating that your information would never be given out under any circumstance. Very suddenly things quickly turned into “we’ll give every single piece of your information away to the highest bidders – oh and it doesn’t matter if you signed up years ago when our policy was different, we’ll take old data too anyway because fuck you that’s why”. It’s a problem because kids don’t understand this, and frankly neither do their parents, only a handful of people in the world who really pay attention or have been exploited by it know to be aware of their presence online.
As bleak as I make my position on this out to be I’m actually pretty uncertain of the role that this ‘generation of likes’ plays. I think it’s flipping awesome that people from all over the world can share and connect with each in the way that they do. But knowing that so much more than money is being made off of data about me and my behaviors and likes and aspirations without even an affirming pat on the back [no I don’t actually want a fucking pat on the back]. This data is simply invaluable and the way it was acquired and sold is comparable to slave trade, except that people don’t know they are the slaves and that makes it just perfect for the companies who own the data as no one will ever really complain. It just seems like the greatest violation or our era.
I’ve been turned into a product being sold to other products by larger products
But hey, maybe I’m wrong about all of this, maybe this is the perfect system of distribution of knowledge and wealth the world has ever known. It doesn’t matter if we don’t get paid with money, we get the experience that social media offers. A world catered to us individually based on our metadata. You pay with personal information to use a service they provide which in turn helps bring us closer to each other and to products and services that are in line with our interests and we can stay stuck in this never ending consumerist dream world. So in a way everyone wins. Except poor people. They always lose.
Sorry about the rant. This shit just irks me.
Also I newly noticed that this blog is under the Creative Commons label. Is it me or was that not there before?