I recently traveled to Pakistan for a wedding/vacation and captured a series of moments while traveling through Lahore and Karachi. Take a journey with me at this link.
Slaves to the Algorithm
We've allowed ourselves to become a slave to something illusive. We're living in an age of voluntary enslavement.
Something intangible-- yet all powerful. Something we don't even fucking understand yet dictates how we think, what we feel and the people we let into our lives. And it's a math equation created by some really brilliant, yet slightly mad, millennials.
It's the algorithm. And it's something that's so pervasive in our every moment that we don't even know it controls us.
Open up your fuckbook and what do you see? Whatever fuckbook thinks you want to see.
Fire up your Pandora and what do you hear-- music that the algorithm thinks you'll enjoy.
Go to the Google and type in your search-- what will you find? What Google thinks you'll like based on your past behaviors.
Yep, almost every piece of digital content we consume is brought to us by a simple math equation that's personalized to reflect the bubbles we create for ourselves.
We are a slave to this equation.
And some people don't mind-- in fact most of us don't. We make concessions for convenience. We accept this slavery so we can gorge ourselves on content we know we'll like. Glutton run a muck-- yet we're usually unaware of it's presence.
We all have one-- or many-- slavery attachments.
Mine is Pandora. I've designed my very ability to create words and produce websites based on the type of music I listen to. I know this app is tracking my endorsements-- I've asked it to. I began using it when the app was merely a musical genome project and it fascinated me. Now I know it's tracking my interactions and sending it to corporations-- and I pay it eliminate the commercials And leave me alone. And I soothe my discomfort of this reality by the value it brings into my life.
But I'm consciously aware of the enslavement. I don't know if that's better or worse, but I have begun to invest in even more purchased music to remove this enslavement-- but I'll never access to 8 hours of unfettered musical selections to create my art with. That's the price I pay for this enslavement.
A Larger Problem Exists
But I ask you this-- what does a society look like when we remove the ability to process opposing opinions? Do we end up with people endorsing the latest blowhard billionaire presidential celebrity candidate spouting out hatred and ignorance?
Do people even have the skills necessary to conduct public discourse in a positive and enlightened way-- in a way that's necessary for a democracy to function properly? I don't think so.
Let's take a snapshot of what this enslavement looks like and how it affects the society as a whole.
Your fuckbook feed is designed to only show you content that it knows you have endorsed or liked in one way or another. It knows you like brand X and will therefore show you anything and everything related to brand x.
It also knows you like political party Y and will show you anything and everything related to party Y-- but it will never show you the opposite of Y so that you might hear another's opinion. It will filter out debates about issues it knows you don't endorse. It will only show you the happy hero narratives of people and brands you engage with-- but you may never know the thoughts and perspectives of a whole section of your "friends" because you never interact with them.
In essence, fuckbook is allowing you to live in the bubble you've endorsed. And for some people, that's the way they want it-- hell, most people want it that way and are fine being fed things they agree with.
I get it, seeing polarizing content can get our panties in a wad-- but it can also lead to the necessary act of debating issues and topics that serve our society as a whole.
Twitter has not quite implemented the personalized "slavery" algorithm, but it's flirting with it hard. It already delivers ads that it "thinks" users will engage with. One of the beautiful things about Twitter is the depth of conversations you can expose yourself to. This exposure can be overwhelming and detrimental at times, but nevertheless, you can still see an opinion and it's dissent in the same space.
If you're using Google as your primary search engine, you're again getting a filtered personalized slavery algorithm that the Google Gods think you want to engage with. Take any term or phrase from a current event and enter it into the Google. Ask your friend sitting next to you to do them same-- what do you see?
Now go to DuckDuckGo and enter the same term. Then look at the results. DDG doesn't track your search or personalize the algorithms. It's my default search engine.
Lose Your Slavery Chains
So what do we do to reverse our dependency on the slavery of algorithms? Well, honestly, the best place to start is by removing ourselves from these platforms completely. But when I tell people to delete fuckbook, you'd think I asked them to sever an arm.
Or worse, people say "yea, you're right and I've been thinking of deleting it but...[insert some social endorsement/dependency excuse here]. Believe me, the people you truly love and wish to keep in touch with will still call/email/text you when they want to share with you-- and it will be even better because it will be a surprise!
We start by becoming aware of our reliance upon the apps and social media platforms and the role they play in our thought process. We take a hard look at our timelines and our bubbles and we step out of them. We start being real. We stop posting only hero moments. We stop making decisions based on false projections we wish to be judged by.
We seek out differing opinions and we educate ourselves on all aspects of a topic.
We use apps like ghostery and NoScript and we remove the algorithm's ability to track our every move and thought. We guard our information and our privacy with diligence and love. Use Firefox or Tor if you really want to go dark on the algorithms.
We become aware of our enslavement and we slowly remove the chains that bind us to a math equation.
For if we don't, our society will further spiral into the moral decay and ignorant passivity that writers like George Orwell and Ayn Rand couldn't even fathom. They had a vision, but the reality blows away their take on humanity-- in spades.
If we don't remove our dependency upon the algorithms and step outside of our bubbles, we'll have a democracy that has no chance of survival and will fall to the biggest, loudest demagogue who works the algorithms to his advantage and we'll not have the will or the intelligence left to fight them.
While we might already be staring this scenario in the face, I believe we still have time. We still have the ability to remove our chains. But will we?
Will we seek freedom? Will we protect our essence from the algorithm? Will we see our dopamine addiction for what it really is and put our smartphones down and delete the apps that suck us out of reality and into the bubble?
Will we open our eyes and release our chains before it's too late?
ps-- never forget that fuckbook was created to get back at a girl for breaking up with Zuckerberg--that's the Hollywood version. The more sinister version is that the CIA funded the initial investment rounds of fuckbook through venture capital to create a mass surviellance tool that people vonluntarily agree to let big brother crawl up in there shit. Don't take my word for it, do your own research. Google "Facebook, In-Q-Tel, Peter Thiel, James Breyer" and grab a stiff drink as you fall down the rabbit hole. Then delete your account and call it a day.