Meditations on Facebook and Mind Control
Note to the reader. In light of Sean Parker's so-called "revelation" about Facebook's true design intent, I am reposting a piece written on February 16, 2016. My point is that none of this is particularly new or novel--wake up people.
“We’re consumers. We are by-products of a lifestyle obsession. Murder, crime, poverty, these things don’t concern me. What concerns me are celebrity magazines, television with 500 channels, some guy’s name on my underwear. Rogaine, Viagra, Olestra… “F*ck Martha Stewart. Martha’s polishing the brass on the Titanic. It’s all going down, man. So f*ck off with your sofa units and Strinne green stripe patterns. “
Fight Club, 1999.
In short, Gates predicts a five to twenty-year window for human substitution by robotic workers, advances in medical procedures, but no super-intelligence until 2050 or so. His interview with Charlie Rose is delightful, by the way. Hawking is a bit more, dire. The Lord of Black Holes thinks we are much closer to the apocalypse and that if the robots do not do us in, aliens will, and if they do not we will do ourselves. I tend to agree with Dr. Hawking-but that is for another post, another time.
I think they are both wrong.
I think if you are looking for what will destroy our shared humanity, consider Facebook as enemy # 1. We now know for sure that good ole’ Zuck has planned all along to suck every single ounce of behavioral information he can from and keep us coming back for more. If he could, he’d probably connect our frontal lobes to Facebook, and we would walk around all day like the copper-top automatons we are slowly becoming.
Call me crazy, but you might have noticed a specific degradation in social relations since we all started “liking” things about one another without actually interacting. Unplug, friends; it is time.
Text me and let me know your thoughts on that one.
People are in fact reporting higher levels of alienation, loneliness, and depression than any other time in history. That is right; people are less social and all the more likely to engage with banality or vote for a person with a whispy windsurfing sail as a hair-do. Pharmaceutical drugs for these ailments are a booming business, so we can now say without a shred of irony, that people are becoming zombies. Zombies who must do what they are supposed to do, day in and day out to bring in the maximum profit obtainable under the least accommodating conditions possible-even if that means a regular dose of Zoloft, ping-pong tables and burrito trucks parked out in the campus drive.
“This division of labor, from which so many advantages are derived, is not originally the effect of any human wisdom, which foresees and intends that general opulence to which it gives occasion.”
“The Wealth of Nations” by Adam Smith
This quote may or may not be related, but another dude named Karl Marx said that for an oligarchical system to govern daily life, (support the division of labor), the system needs to remain mostly stable unchanged, and people need to be docile. Hmm. Das Facebook?
You know Facebook is a complete waste of time, and yet — you go back every day, several times a day.
Researchers from California State University-Fullerton say social media obsession looks an awful lot like serious addiction. Facebooking triggers two critical parts of the brain associated with rewards. The amygdala-which is the integrative place for emotions, behavior, and motivation and the striatum — part of the forebrain and a critical component of the reward system. The findings, recently published in the journal Psychological Reports: Disability and Trauma showed that social media-related “addictions” share some neural features with substance and gambling addictions. Awesome!
As of the fourth quarter of 2015, Facebook had 1.59 billion monthly active users. Active users are those who have logged in to Facebook during the last 30 days to do one of the following completely useless things
.#1. To stoke that personal brand, baby.
Facebook celebrates and yes, massively benefits from your endless selfies, quotes, memes, bitching, moaning and brain dumping on the platform. Why? Because they are collecting all of this behavior as they build an AI. Duh. Combine that with a nifty logo for browsing and viola! Vous et de Facebook. This will be a “No shit” moment to some of you and a “No, Really, Oh Shit?” moment to others.
What do you think your feed is anyway? Facebook knows you better than you know you--and that turns out to be true. I am not making any assertions about Facebook building “Skynet” people (warning: 80’s movie reference), but they are in fact doing AI research, and some of it is very interesting.
The question you ought to be asking (that does not require screen time) is — do you know you?
#2. To go shopping, kinda?
People are not on Facebook for the advertising, let’s just end that debate. I know for a fact that ad-revenues on the site have been cooked for years. No one goes on Facebook to buy anything. People want to find out what their friends are doing and tell other people about what they are doing.
Distilled to its essence, social media is either personally useful (I do find this very platform enormously helpful) or banal bullshit. Let’s face it.
I have the right to say this after advising agencies owned by all four advertising holding companies at one time or another. Social media does just two things that's it. Social media accelerates the message and expands the network for it, that is it. For those of you paying Dave Kerpen or Gary Vaynerchuck 20k per month, you can reduce those fees by 1/4 and mail the checks directly to me. I will settle for this reduction in fees and train a chimpanzee to do your community management one thousand times better than both of these two jokers, combined, in one hour.
#3. To revel in misinformation.
A team of researchers have conducted a five-year-long study on a wide range of Facebook users in a quest to find out how misinformation blossoms online. In their paper, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they note that it may be due to the nature of so-called “echo chambers,” spaces that allow people to amplify their belief systems without obstruction.
In this sense, echo chambers describe specific areas of the media, particularly the Internet, wherein information or beliefs are reinforced by repetitive transmission inside an enclosed virtual space. These spaces, which also serve to keep contrasting views at bay, may explain why there are so many groups of people online — particularly on Facebook — that steadfastly believe information that is demonstrably nonsensical.