21st Century A Technological Utopia or Dystopia?
By: Fatima Niangado
When you hear the word “technology,” what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Do you think about a futuristic civilization, Instagram, or Twitter, or do you simply think about your smart device? I watched Netflix’s newest documentary, The Social Dilemma, directed by Jeff Orlowsk, and by the end, I knew it was imperative to share my main take away points.
Remember that time when you were scrolling through old throwback pictures of you and your ex, reminiscing about the good ole days? Then, you log into Instagram and suddenly, “Your ex and 111 other people liked this picture.” You ask yourself, “Out of those 112 people that liked the picture, why is it that this specific person’s name keeps popping up?” You can thank Artificial intelligence (Ai) for that. Social media platforms are recording our every move and have stored all our information in a database. The database is then analyzed and used to create a model with the sole purpose of predicting our next move. This is how advertisement companies and social media platforms capitalize off us.
Maybe you were gazing at a specific picture for a while, or you swiped past multiple pics but decided to go back because something in that pic caught your attention. However long that process took, know that it was observed and recorded. The more data a company has on its product (produced by us, the consumers), the easier it is to sell our data or manipulate us with that same information. Once these companies get an idea of who we are and how we think, it becomes easy for them to persuade and change our thinking process. Can you now see the transition to the dark side of technology taking place? Board members of the world’s largest companies are educated on the psychology of persuasion and then introduce that to new technologies. They couldn’t care less about our best interest. That’s not their primary concern. We aren’t benefiting from their greedy decisions, nor are we fully aware of their intentions or the consequences of their actions. They are exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology (McDavid et al.,) that can lead to society’s destabilization. Zombie alert!
Social media isn’t the devil. We know that it is a tool that has been used to connect individuals around the world. Social media has also been used to spread important news effectively to people located thousands of miles away from you. During global human rights issues, like those in Sudan and Nigeria, social media allowed us to communicate with our brothers and sisters. Social media was initially started to make networking and communication easier. Decades later, it is doing more than just connecting people, seemingly leading us to a tech dystopia.
I’ve started periodically taking social media breaks. There are times where I log into Instagram, and after a few minutes, I begin to go through what psychologists call The Snowball Effect, a result of scrolling through a news feed that is designed to grab my attention, keep me engaged, and if possible, change my perception. At times, I could be on social media for months before the anxiety starts to kick in. The tech dystopia forces me to activate ghost mode by deleting everything and taking a break. Based on my experience, I recommend taking social media breaks at least every three months. Detoxing from social media has led to a personal increase in creativity and innovation. I’m convinced that continually seeing other people’s ideas subconsciously makes me a lazy creator. I feel like my ideas at times don’t come from my authentic self but are an extension of ideas from other creatives on social media platforms. There is nothing wrong with being inspired by others, but we all need to tap into our creativity.
Take a break, guys, and let’s prevent a tech dystopia.
McDavid, Jodi. “The Social Dilemma.” Journal of Religion and Film, vol. 24, no. 1, 2020, p. COV41+. Gale Academic OneFile,. Accessed 18 Oct. 2020
1, 2020, p. COV41+. Gale Academic OneFile,. Accessed 18 Oct. 2020