As all technology also social media can be put to both good and bad
With the significant impact of social media where they also becomes a filter in our social interaction with others I think important to reflect upon how we consume and handle social medias.
Are social media bad?
If you want to read more on the subject a good start is Humanetech a nonprofit organization that has both some really good analysis on the issues with social medias and a number of concrete proposals for Human centered Technology. You will be greeted on their homepage with the title:
“Our society is being hijacked by technology”
Interestingly enough is that when i search on google for “Social media positive effects” I get around 35 million hits. Going through the first 3 pages of hits more than half of them are actually not positive but rather balanced and labeled “Positive and Negative Effects of Social Media”. When I search for “Social media addiction” I get 72 million hits and very few on the first pages are balanced ergo they have a negative or alarmist angle. So in conclusion we have twice as many hits that Social media are bad than that they are good
I have also an impression (that I intend to research another time) that there is a growing movement against the negative effects of the dominant social media platforms. I think part of Georg Soros conversation at World Economic Forum in Davos is a good illustration of this kind of allegations:
“I want to spend the bulk of my remaining time on another global problem: the rise and monopolistic behavior of the giant IT platform companies. These companies have often played an innovative and liberating role. But as Facebook and Google have grown into ever more powerful monopolies, they have become obstacles to innovation, and they have caused a variety of problems of which we are only now beginning to become aware.”
If you can not bother to listen to the 45 min conversation I think Business insider has done a very good analysis out of his conversation. Please note I am not endorsing this kind of allegations as I have not made up my mind yet so above quote is just used as illustrative example for that kind of movement
Model for reflection
If a topic feel complex and overwhelming my brain has a tendency to try to simplify as far as possible and hence I came up with this simple model on what scenarios we have ahead of us that could also be used on a personal level
If you have not heard about Netocraty I strongly suggest you get onto the subject. Netocracy is predict a future new ruling class from two philosophers that so far has had a lot of accurate prediction already back at Y2K
I use the model above as a simple way to analyze where something (an app, a social media platform, a business idea, etc) that picks my attention ends up in the quadrant. If it is not clearly green I avoid it as far as I can
My reflection using the model
Let me apply the model on my consumption of social media as an illustration of what you can do already now
On a personal level some +10 years ago when I read the Terms and Conditions while singing up for Facebook where you give them the rights to any material and pictures I thought it was a scam and aborted to sign up. A decision I have not regretted and while typing this post realize that from having been considered an odd person not being on the digital grid, more and more people envy that stance. I assume that is partly due to the above movement that social media are bad. Still today Facebook would clearly end up in the personal negative quadrant as I have very little need for likes or the grapevine of people I long time obviously dropped out with. For my close friend I prefer more private channels such as the phone, mail or direct messenger. For business contacts I very much prefer LinkedIn.
I have tried Instagram and Twitter but as I prefer loooong reflective text they do not do the trick at all but we are all different so for my mother Instagram has largely replaced her consumption of soap operas.
Even for this site it was a researched and conscious decision to have full control of my publishing platform and not depend on other platforms terms and condition, their formating choices nor any screening on the content. I also wanted you as a reader to be able to read without distracting advertising.
With the latest worse of the bad deepfakes (link to Mashable that explains it well) where with a set of pictures of a person you can get faced swap into any kind of movie (mostly with a target to produce adult material) I am so grateful my teenager has learned the family many year ago how to make sure your posted pictures on social media are not face recognisable. I am also very happy I have taken the fight with every of my children´s childcare and schools that they are not allowed to publish any pictures of my kids. And I appreciate all friends and colleagues that has, perhaps after making fun of me, accepted I do not want to be tagged on their social medias.
I strongly believe it is the sum of many people good choices that will help us ensure social medias becomes positive for both us as people as well as for the greater good of society.
It is probably healthy and I think it will emerge alternatives to some of the dominating platforms with a better human oriented design, perhaps we as user on the other hand need to accept we pay for the service to diminish the need to maximize the time you spend on the platform consuming the advertising.
One simple thing we could all do is to strive to give towards a smart society (my post the other day) where that concept can be used as framework for how we make sure technology is used to make a better society in general and where we design social media platform with a human oriented design.
I would appreciate if you share a few lines on your reflection after reading this post, that would be both rewarding and enriching for me.