Social media is making us all stupid, so that none of us is as dumb as all of us.
Before 2009, Facebook was simply a timeline; a stream of content generated by connections to “friends”. After 2009 they added a like feature and a share feature then they started to keep track of your likes and shares.
This created a sort of Myers Briggs type profile of the user. With this Facebook could sort you as an Amiable, Analytical, Expressive or Driver, but with a granularity of 600 data types.
The process is very accurate and highly tuned developed by psychologists over the last 50 years. For a history see this Wikipedia article. While academics argue which test is best, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Apple and Amazon are the riches companies in the history of man using proprietary version of the technique.
Twitter followed suit with the “Retweet” button, which allowed users to publicly endorse a post while also sharing it with all of their followers.
Data gathered in this way organized people to allow for more “engagement”. Algorithms were developed to bring each user to the advertiser to whom they could be most easily swayed. Later research showed that posts that trigger emotions about the out groups were the most likely to be shared and therefore identify which in group you belonged to. This information is incredibly valuable when angry stupid people can be sorted and herded to the legislatures as was done on Jan 6 2021 in Washington and in January of 2022 in Ottawa.
The power to control mob dynamics is now in private hands. Users once grouped can be easily manipulated and swayed, not to believe black is white but certainly to believe one shade of grey is darker or lighter than before.
With these analytical tools they can see inside your soul, They can harden your opinions. You sold your soul to the Zuck, the Musk, and the Bozo one like, tweet and purchase at a time and its now worth billions. Your identity, their billions; they must be laughing at you.
“One of the engineers at Twitter who had worked on the “Retweet” button later revealed that he regretted his contribution because it had made Twitter a nastier place. As he watched Twitter mobs forming through the use of the new tool, he thought to himself, “We might have just handed a 4-year-old a loaded weapon.”” Quote From the Atlantic
The triviality that is categorized by the big five allows people to be fractionalized by the most frivolous and fanciful, from space lasers to pedophile pizza cabals. The manipulative power of Social media allows for the magnification of the truly ignorant by the Cambridge analytical types and now by Elon Musk.
What does the evil genius who owns rockets, tunneling machines, and all the electric cars on the planet want with a tool that monitors and shapes opinion. I could not imagine. Twitter brawls over contrived trivialities only enrich the rich by distracting people from the issues of critical importance, tax law and overpopulation. From these two issues all of our social problems are derivative. Like free bread in the coliseum and good show of lions eating terrified Christians we all enjoy a good show and Facebook, Twitter and Amazon provides it.
Social Media deploys propaganda and fear with a razor precision to motivate the behaviors it desires. It has the ability to break down the legitimacy of rules, norms, and institutions. By systematically instilling a lack of trust in elected leaders, health authorities, the courts, the police, universities, and the integrity of elections, then corporate leaders, or political wanna bes with a few million dollars can buy a cohort of a particular brand of stupidity to fill the void.
In the 1950’s we had a real concern about Communists undermining our government today the ability to that is for sale and China, Russia and the United Arab Emirates are at the top of the list of countries that are interfering with our elections and sowing discord thru social media in all the Western Democracies.
“The former CIA analyst Martin Gurri predicted these fracturing effects in his 2014 book, The Revolt of the Public. Gurri’s analysis focused on the authority-subverting effects of information’s exponential growth, beginning with the internet in the 1990s. Writing nearly a decade ago, Gurri could already see the power of social media as a universal solvent, breaking down bonds and weakening institutions everywhere it reached. He noted that distributed networks “can protest and overthrow, but never govern.” He described the nihilism of the many protest movements of 2011 that organized mostly online and that, like Occupy Wall Street, demanded the destruction of existing institutions without offering an alternative vision of the future or an organization that could bring it about.” From the Atlantic
A mean tweet doesn’t kill; it is an attempt to publicly humiliate. With humiliation there is no debate, only confusion. The internet makes it easy to find “factoids” for absurd beliefs. Social media makes it worse.
The most reliable cure to ignorance is interaction with people who don’t share your beliefs. They confront you with counter evidence and if know only your side of an argument you know nothing.
People who disagree with you make you smarter, people who try to silence their critics make themselves stupider.
We have got stupider as a group because social media has instilled a fear, a fear of rejection, combined with a vulnerability, we can no longer experiment, think freely, enjoy banter. There is chronic fear of getting “ghosted” or “unfriended”. The shift is most pronounced in universities where Digital Natives prevail. Places where people born on reddit and google, the borg live. Scholarly associations, creative industries, and political organizations all try to established new behavioral norms that will not elicit that dreaded twitter tempest in a teapot
Quotations from Atlantic Magazine