Social media and apps have taken the world in to its depths of likes, comments and paid advertisements over the last fifteen years.
We use it to keep up with family and friends, school mates and work colleagues. Most modern businesses use it to sell, promote and advertise. Charities use it to fundraise, celebrities use it to share music and art with their fans.
And in recent years, we’ve seen all the major political parties pour millions of pounds in to Facebook advertising for elections. What does this mean? This means that platforms such as Facebook can use your data to allow political parties to target YOU the voter, so that adverts of what they think you want to see / hear pop up on your page. They do this in the hope that you like what you see / hear and will vote for them.
I recently watched a documentary on Netflix called the ‘Great Hack’ and it details how data was used (and misused) during the Trump election in America. Some people argue that because of this ability to pour millions of pounds in to social media advertising, democracy is threatened, and we’ll never have a fair election ever again.
Then we use apps for dating- Tinder, Grindr, Hinge etc. the list goes on. We swipe left / right, we match / unmatch, all in the hope to meet our soul mate on these platforms. And, I’m not knocking it, I have friends who have married and lived happily ever after from meeting their partners this way.
I ponder many questions on the digital aspects of my own life. Are we losing the ability to hold a conversation with someone that we’re romantically interested in because we’re so used to just ‘swiping left or right’ or ‘sliding in someone’s DMs’?
Are we becoming a generation of keyboards warriors? What I mean by this is, would we say all the things that we say online if we were faced with those people or situations in real-life? Sometimes on Twitter, people tweet me quite abrupt, nasty comments but then walk past me in a corridor or share a lift with me and are cordial and polite. I never understand this because we must be accountable in some way for our behaviour and comments online, right?! But, we’re not really and then I’m reminded that these are the kind of keyboard warrior complexes that social media has been allowed to create because of the lack of accountability online.
But, can we live without our digital platforms? Apparently, we can’t. I recently met a guy who works in innovation and he convinced me that we’re now in the 4th industrial and post-digital era. And the choice is no longer whether we opt in or opt, it’s whether we opt in or get left behind.