For Christmas 2020, I purchased two books about social media. The books I bought are Jaron Lanier’s Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now, and Sinal Aral’s The Hype Machine: How Social Media Disrupts Our Elections, Our Economy, and Our Health–And How We Must Adapt. I have never joined Facebook or Twitter but I like to understand the cause of social changes that I see happening and I think that social media has changed our society. Online searches for this information weren’t very successful and I often find that books are superior to online sources, probably because the author can get paid for a book when it finds an audience and their content is more permanent. I bought two books instead of only one because I like to get more than one source whenever I explore a controversial topic.
I am only part-way through these books but I want to encourage you to buy them or borrow them from a library or a friend so that you can learn about social media’s effects on our society. I am learning a lot from them even though I don’t agree with every point of information or opinion in them. Social media has been affecting us for about 15 years. Our politics became more polarized starting about 15 years ago. It’s not a coincidence.
The effect of social media is profound and it is damaging relationships that people can have with those that differ from them. The alarming thing about social media is that it curates the content that people read and algorithms in the programming encourage discord. When a person thinks that someone else is acting crazy and believing crazy things, that craziness can be directly connected with the personalized feed where different people see different content.
When people disagree about politics today it isn’t merely because different people want different things. It’s because they have seen different on-line content about politics when they read content that is fed specifically to them by an algorithm. An algorithm monitors where a person goes on-line and tries to make them do that behavior more often. Bots often create a phony sense that many other people agree with content that is being fed to the public even when few real people know about the information. But a lot of content is a mixture of truth and lies. Controversy increases traffic. All of the content is designed to maximize clicks and likes which can be increased by causing discord. A lot of content is meant to make you think that anyone of a different opinion is crazy or evil. Don’t believe it.
We haven’t all become crazy and intolerant. A profit maximizing tool is feeding you a bunch of baloney that can make you feel bad, feel helpless, feel hopeless. Meanwhile, our nation is still suffering from real monetary and fiscal malfeasance but not because we have become a nation full of crazies. We have real political problems that are systemwide and nationwide. But it isn’t true that We-the-People are evil or crazy. Don’t go on-line for news and information unless you realize that on-line sources aren’t factual and are meant to trick you into greater involvement in a corrupt and manipulative information system that is making mincemeat of authentic discovery. If you go on-line, look for first hand interviews and primary source material. Ask questions in framing your search criteria.
Mainstream media has also proven over the last several years to be completely unreliable for authentic truth source news. Ask your own questions and don’t rely on others to inform you in any media. Current news sources are mostly full of junky non-nourishing news information. Today, it’s up to you to discern for yourself what is happening. Ask questions, seek your own answers based on reliable numerous different sources that you can cross check.
If you want to see the arc of American history in a new way, buy a copy of Political Catsup with Economy Fries, available at Amazon.com.