Mickey Z. — World News Trust
April 12, 2021
"This is the whole point of technology. It creates an appetite for immortality on the one hand. It threatens universal extinction on the other. Technology is lust removed from nature." (Don DeLillo)
After taking a break of two years, I returned to Facebook (FB) in July 2020. I’m astonished I’ve lasted this long but, even so, I feel it may be time to deactivate again very soon. Witnessing the algorithm-driven echo chambers in action is leading me into a place of (at least) distraction and (at worst) depression.
I came back for a few reasons. Two were very practical:
The results for both have been mixed but, I saw some improvement with fundraising. On a more personal level, I returned to FB because I wanted more social interactions. The (over)response to the pandemic has left me alone more than I’ve ever been in my life. I do have a handful of sweet FB friends with whom I now regularly interact but, in a big picture sense, my return did not raise my quality of life.
From the moment I reactivated, I tried committing to being “Mr. Positive.” Everyone already knew the world was a mess. Who needed me to remind them? I worked diligently to highlight upbeat stories and memes — but that got old pretty quickly. Two primary reasons:
The reinforcement we get from our carefully curated news feeds tricks us into losing all perspective. I should’ve known that the Mr. Positive thing wouldn’t last and I should’ve known that smug leftists will do what smug leftists do. The lefties should’ve known I’d slide comfortably back into my familiar (and once-popular) role of calling out their hypocrisy. All of us should’ve known better but, thanks to artificial intelligence, we’ve been very well-programmed. We behaved like trained seals while the rich kept getting richer.
Perhaps the worst aspect of being conditioned 24/7 by algorithms is the certainty we each feel that we’re too smart or “aware” to be manipulated. We’re too woke or awake or whatever the new cool word is. We are not sheeple. In fact, we are a legit threat and must be censored and shadow-banned by Big Brother. Translation: We think we are immune to programming. When we urge others to “wake up” or “think for yourself,” we really mean: Be more like me. I’ve got it all figured out. I gamed the system.
When we’re consciously or unconsciously feeling this way, the algorithm has already won. The hive minds and the cult-like groupings have been formed and subsequently carved into stone. The artificially-created tribes have declared war on each other — maintaining loyalty mostly to their manufactured need to be seen and heard and validated on a social media platform. To publicly change one’s mind is unthinkable, a sign of weakness. We must win (or at least get more followers) even it costs us every last shred of our humanity.
Please, please don’t read this and think I’m exaggerating. Social media executives themselves openly admit this was the plan. Chamath Palihapitiya is the former vice president for growth with Facebook. He says: “We curate our lives around this perceived sense of perfection because we get rewarded in these short-term signals: Hearts, likes, thumbs up. We conflate that with value, and we conflate it with truth, and instead, what it really is is fake, brittle popularity that's short term and leaves you even more vacant and empty before you did it.”
Jaron Lanier is an American computer philosophy writer and a founder of the field of virtual reality. He explains social media this way: “People are clustered into paranoia peer groups because then, they can be more easily and predictably swayed.” Tristan Harris is a former Google design ethicist. He says: “If you're not paying for the product, then you are the product.”
How did we fall into these traps? Palihapitiya has a theory: “The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works. No civil discourse. No cooperation. Misinformation. Mistruth. We are in a really bad state of affairs right now.”
And please, please don’t say something like: “I only use Facebook or Instagram (or whatever) to [fill in the blank].” That’s not how AI works. If you’re online, it will find you and it will persuade you. Look at this graphic for a sense of how easily hive minds are effectively constructed:
If you have an internet connection of any kind, you are a subject in the largest, most invasive social engineering experiment in history. What happens when at least half the world consents to live in a society based around us being online? Look around with an open mind and you’ll be able to discern the obvious answers to that question. And please, please don’t think for one minute that those (corporate and government) in power are done with us.
What’s the solution, you may wonder? I’m not here to ponder solutions. Consider this article more like Paul Revere’s ride. Consider yourselves alerted and very much forewarned.
Mickey Z. can be found here. He is also the founder of Helping Homeless Women - NYC, offering direct relief to women on New York City streets. To help him grow this project, CLICK HERE and donate right now. And please spread the word!