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We need to rethink social media before it’s too late. We’ve accepted a Faustian bargain

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When people envision technology overtaking society, many think of The Terminator and bulletproof robots. Or Big Brother in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, a symbol of external, omnipotent oppression.

But in all likelihood, dystopian technology will not strong-arm us. Instead, we’ll unwittingly submit ourselves to a devil’s bargain: freely trade our subconscious preferences for memes, our social cohesion for instant connection, and the truth for what we want to hear.

Indeed, as former insiders at Google, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube attest in our new documentary, The Social Dilemma, this is already happening. We already live in a version of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. As Neil Postman puts it in his 1985 book Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business:

In Huxley’s vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity, and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.

The technology that threatens our society, democracy and mental health is lurking in our bedrooms, sometimes lying on our pillows, as we fall asleep. We awake to its call, bring its chiming notifications to dinner, and blindly trust where it guides us. We scroll insatiably, unsuspecting that the technology that connects us, especially now in a distanced world, is also controlling us.

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woman with phone in bed‘We scroll insatiably, unsuspecting that the technology that connects us, especially now in a distanced world, is also controlling us.’ Photograph: Sam Thomas/Getty Images

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Click the link below for the article:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/sep/27/social-dilemma-media-facebook-twitter-society

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