I recently deleted my personal facebook account which I’ve been wanting to do for a while, and I’m happy I did. The final push for me was watching the documentary Social Dilemma. I’ve heard one of the speakers of that show Tristan Harris before speak about AI years ago, but it was great to see a full documentary about it especially on a popular platform like Netflix. Of course there is way more than what the documentary speaks about. I hope it pushes others to look deeper into the history of Silicon Valley, AI, Google, Gmail, etc… It’s probably easier for people like myself in their 30s that have been into computers and have seen the switch of living without technology 24/7 to now to realize the delusion in which it has engulfed our lives. But how can a young person growing up with this technology be given a fighting chance to live a peaceful mind without agitated ‘notifications’, multitasking, or judgement on likes, comments, or even moral. They wouldn’t know a life without it. As we’ve seen this year, we as a whole and individually need to heal at all costs. Even if that means something as simple as deleting a social media app.
It seems a common theme recently to be totally shocked by something and then have it as a common acceptance to everyday life. Take Instagram for instance. It was only a few years ago they changed the algorithms to chronological to personal interests. What you see is influences by the likes you give all the way to calculating how long you look at a post. There were complaints about it but nothing was done. With Instagram having billions of users, those users weren’t going to go somewhere else. They were going to stay there. For others, it may have even seemed subtle. It may not be a big deal for some but in a massive scale, it can and is a problem. If all the apps and devices, I mean everything to google, youtube, email, facebook, instagram, twitter, etc… , is only catered to what YOU like and agree with YOU most the time, how can you have a world wide view of the world. It’ll be in the most sense your corner of the world and that’s it. And any shock and awe you see becomes a common theme or bombarded with another thing. You may wonder, what happened to the fires in california? or the climate change, elections? protests, what about dismantling the cops? Why isn’t it showing up on my feed? Is it because no one dealt with it? …It’s because you the user is teaching the app what to show you. If you SEARCH cat videos, you’ll see cat sponsors or friends showing their cats. Not the fires in california or whatever your interested in. To do so, you have to search for it or have a friend post it to show it on your feed. That’s a basic idea, but that’s what is happening according to apps’ algorithms.
Another problem of course is that 1) we’re living in 2020 and 2) there is way waaay too many problems to deal with. Which are not being dealt with responsibly. There is plenty of data that shows the relationship between mental health and adolescence girls especially during the years iphones and apps were introduced to that age group late 2000s-2010s which are impacted the worst. Some of which is said in that Social Dilemma documentary. I recently started accompanying a school again, choir. I noticed the kids at this high school didn’t seem as excited or …like ….kids. I know a lot of them have been trying to keep to the 6 feet apart. But there was a sadness especially in the girls. Quiet and timid. It took me a few days to realize what I’ve been hearing and reading about depression and suicide spiking to exponential rates the past decade. But this pandemic…it has to have spiked even more. Having taught private students for years, a lot in their own homes, it’s easy to pick out the ones that have are troubled. Now, it’s becoming a little more apparent. You never know what they are going through. It’s even more important to reach out and make sure a lot of them are speaking out and caring for one another one on one rather than through a device. Without that human to human relationships, how are the ones that need it the most, children, ever going to have a chance. Let alone a bright future for everyone. Not just for themselves but because …come on adults, we aren’t going to take care of ourselves forever.
Nothing is not all lost. I may seem like I’m down but I’m not. I know what has worked for me. Every year I have to reinvent myself. Because every day there is something new. If they are relentless, we ourselves need to be just that much and more. I liked that I recently deleted FB. I still have my business page but it’s more just linked to my instagram and every is just from that. Pretty much all business. But I’ve been loving my website and have been working on it more since deleting FB. I’ve had websites since I was in high school. Blogs since then too. Hopefully all deleted somewhere in all those computers haha… But I use it as a form of my own personal expression. There was this part in the movie Social Dilemma where Tristan Harris speaks about how for the longest, they were trying to figure out what colors or boxes they were going to use for the look of gmail. It sounds like a terrible job. Like who really cares…but their purpose was to attract ‘users’. I get it…it’s just a terrible job. Realistically, who wants that kind of job?!!!
I think the future is building your own. Most of us have access to a computer with internet. If there are people in silicon valley, AI computers learning about you, trying to manipulate somehow…then why not create something of your own where your not boxed in by ‘squares’ and ‘likes’. Wix or other sites make it easy to build a site nowadays. And it’s getting easier. I remember when I was learning to code. I got most html and some css but I stopped. You have to practice it a lot to remember the wording. But the little I got, helps to build something like this. This is also making me realize that I Should learn more. WordPress which is what powers this site, is limited too in options. Even in high school I tried to write my own code to the sites for fun. Some of those ideas were even more creative than the wordpress templates. Guess I’m saying is that THAT is the future. Use the technology we have to beat AI in their own game. Maybe AI can be used for good but I haven’t seen it yet. Corporations and their greed have used it without any rules just for their own selfishness in the expense of the people’s mental health.
Below are a couple of sites you can check out. The first is a podcast with Tristan Harris about the ethics and information of AI and how it is involved in 99% of what you do on your devices. The next is what students, parents, and educators can do. Tips and tricks for dealing with yourselves and your kids. I’ve learned a lot too researching all this. I like some of the tips such as using a search engine like Qwant that doesn’t record your searches, or stop all notifications…all of them, or search things directly on apps like youtube rather then clicking on the recommended videos. …
Even any research about this stuff is good. I hope for you as it is for me, it’s good to hear that what is going on is not just in your mind.
If you come across this blog and have thoughts, let me know what you think? It’s a lot to study, but if you spend hours on your phone a day, I think you have a responsibility to understand how these things work.