I don’t know about you, but ever since the pandemic, I have found myself spending a lot more time…on social media.
Take one look at your “screen time” feature on your phone, and I’m sure – like me – you’ll be baffled and rightfully disgusted by the amount of time spent looking at a 2 inch x 5 inch pocket computer.
Instagram, email, FaceTime, Facebook, Tic Tok…
I mean, sure, these social media platforms are great for keeping in touch with my family and friends across the country and world that I miss so much. And frankly, without this lifesaving technology during quarantine, I simply don’t know how I would have survived.
But that lifeline to the outside world I desperately depended on for the 4 or five months in true lockdown, has now become too much of my life. And thankfully, I’ve been able to “check that,” and I’m really working to limit my phone usage, but I can really see how as a society, we have become absolutely addicted to our smart devices, particularly after this pandemic.
This addictive side of social media…it preys on our need for approval and validation, and in the mean time, it warps our sense of self, and skews our perception of interpersonal interaction and how we view the world.
I watched a really fascinating documentary over the weekend called The Social Dilemma. And it was about exactly that.
Featuring interviews with the people who created, developed and founded Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Snapchat etc., The Social Dilemma pulls back the curtain on how our addiction to these social media platforms isn’t by accident: the apps are purposefully designed that way.
For example…have you ever wondered why the notification you get when you’re tagged in a photo on Facebook or Instagram doesn’t include the actual photo?
It’s because they know how to get you to spend time on their app.
The long and the short of it: they want us to spend as much time as we possibly can on their social media platform.
They are in the game of manipulation. The ads you see, the notifications you receive, the post or video suggestions you get — they’ve taken the myriad of data they’ve collected on every “like,” page visit, how many seconds you spend watching a particular video or post — they’re taking all that information, and trying to keep your eyeballs on their platform.
Because we are the product “they are selling.”
Not to us…to advertisers.
Social media is this seemingly too good to be true treasure trove of “free content.” I mean, have you ever wondered – how is this free? I know I have. Or how Facebook actually makes money?
Perhaps you’ve heard the saying, “If you’re not paying for it, you’re the product.”
Yep – that’s the scary long and short of it.
We. are. the. product.
All the data they’ve collected. All the cognitively manipulative ways they’ve discovered how to influence our actions, our buying patterns, our thought processes. Social media platforms can literally serve you and me on a silver platter to ad companies who are looking for customers just like us.
Think that’s scary?
Well you’re absolutely right. It is.
But not for just those data security reasons. But ethical ones too.
This whole manipulative aspect of social media, frankly terrifies me.
The news media, has historically been known as the gatekeeper of news and information. They decide what we think about, and more importantly – depending on how they present it – they decide how we think about it.
So… with social media now being a main source of news for people… what happens when that gatekeeper of information is literally in the business of manipulation?
And the scariest part of all this? It’s happening right under our noses, and we’re completely oblivious to it.
My most recent article from Thursday, called A Tale of Two Political Nuns, was censored by Facebook. It was a pro-life article, and I received an email on Thursday around midnight, that it was rejected for violating “community standards.”
Being pro-life — is violating community standards.
And this is not the first time.
The first time I thought it was a fluke, but as soon as I saw the pattern, I knew that I was experiencing first-hand their narrative manipulation at play.
They are the gatekeepers of what you, me and the entire world consumes, and my pro-life, Christian message is not welcome in their time-sucking “utopia.”
I got that message loud and clear.
So it begs the question…how can we trust them?
How can we trust that these companies that are literally dictating what we consume for — on average 6+ hours a DAY?
Are we really willing to surrender our attention, world view, and definition of morality to companies that are okay with promoting movies like, “Cuties” – which is about 12 year old girls twerking, and is borderline child pornography — and yet censors pro-life Christian blog articles?
We’ve got to ask ourselves, what is their agenda here?
Seriously. I’m not trying to be alarmist or anything. Really – what agenda are they pushing here?
And more importantly, do I want to be a participant?
We’re seeing it play out right before our eyes. The freight train is barreling down the tracks. Full steam ahead.
So. Sadly, there’s not a neat little button to wrap up this post with. But simply the awareness that it’s happening is a good place to start.
Whether you want to join the thousands that have canceled their Netflix memberships to protest the Cuties movie, or even just try to spend less time scrolling — my challenge to you is this. Have a critical eye when consuming the content you’re served on these “free” platforms.
Because we are the product.
But only if we choose to participate.
This is what the Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.” Ez 37:5
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