Fazing out

I’ve had a long struggle, oscillating over the years, with social media and what I experience as the demise of genuine human(e) interaction. Data mining is a real threat to the fabric of social live, lived amongst those who experience themselves as autonomous beings, what Kant took to be the fundamental (perhaps primordial) presupposition for a (rich) moral life. The irony of a faceless platform calling itself Facebook, is not lost on me. Indeed, it has long irked me. And weighing, as I do, the promise of staying connected with family and friends abroad, I’ve found most presume connectivity and yet rarely reach out to have a real conversation or pick up the phone anymore. And though one might – as I had long deluded myself – envisage a platform of diversity where negotiation in a spirit of good faith might contribute to advancing my own understanding of human interest issues, the hegemony of most posts overwhelms. Deleting “friends” by the 1000s over the last couple of days evades the real issue: social media feeds, but does not nourish, our “negotiation” of the world. It boxes us into a paradigm of feeds posing for the truth, algorithmized for our delight (to sustain attention, and release of dopamine). Cornered most beast’s fight-or-flight response would turn on; but so oblivious are we that the threat remains ever elusive, and unconsciously we make our bed, tucked in all cozy-like with our “friends!” Deleting Instagram, and Whatsup and now Facebook (takes care of Zuckerberg!) is hopefully a practice that I shall have the temperance and fortitude to maintain over the long stretch (Tristan Harris has compared the addictive force to slot machines.) For any real friends I may have made along the way, even unwittingly, communication is not the ownership of social media.Roger McNamee was quoted saying: “The way to think about it is as 2.5 billion Truman Shows. Each person has their own reality with their own facts. Over time you have the false sense that everyone agrees with you because everyone in your news feed sounds just like you. Once you’re in that state, it turns out you’re easily manipulated.” (Roger McNamee, Early investor venture capitalist in Facebook)

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