More than a decade has passed since I embraced social media with open arms. It feels like it has been a part of my life forever, but of course it has not. Earlier, as I opened a browser on my computer, I realized that I really did not have a website in particular I wanted to visit.
I gave up on Facebook (FB) long before it became the ruler of Algorithmia- the land of the lulled, content feeding masses. I disliked it solely on the fact that it required users to conform through abject banality. There were absolutely zero modifications allowed to the profile, thereby creating a false sense of inclusion. Fucking fake as fuck in my eyes, but whatever. It came, it saw, it manipulated users into believing they were a part of a larger, global community. When really everyone’s been mostly talking shit to the people they never liked in high school, because hey, we’re all old now, right?
As FB became the dominate online destination, I noticed the subtle manipulations in the feeds. I went so far as to conduct the research for an academic-style article to address how transparently evil FB was. The numerous FB sanctioned experiments conducted on users were never secret, not really. There were cookie crumbs that individuals could have followed to find the truth, but as the oft quoted movie line goes, “you can’t handle the truth!” This was during the early days of the 2016 American presidential campaigns. Early 2014 would be my best estimation, although I could refer to the creation dates on the original outlines, but I digress.
I came back to this article outline every time there was a ridiculous headline regarding the erosion of privacy, or a blip about the collection of behavioral data, or massive data breach. But I could never bring myself to finish the piece because it was glaringly obvious that the average user had no interest in the numerous ways they were being tracked and manipulated online. In fact, they were totally cool with it as long as the echo chambers they’d safely secured themselves in stayed full of the sweet, sweet smell of confirmation bias.
The election cycle came and went, a reality TV star became the 45th president of the United States, and the echo chambers have remained. Hell, they not only remain, they have become the norm. Thanks to algorithms, users are guaranteed to feed their favorite biases daily! No contrary or transgressive thoughts will ever pollute their online shopping experiences. Because that’s what social media has become: The planet’s largest collection of shit you don’t need, served up on ADHD satiating platters of click-bait.
As the rock stars on the social media global brand management teams continue to quantify the amount of clicks a rousing hashtag can bring, I’ve decided that there is not much I want to view on a computer anymore. When it comes to social media, mobile content is key. I don’t want to think, I just want to be fed content. Let the algorithms amuse me, I don’t need to think for myself.
The machines know best, right?