We have come to realise that online connectivity made the world a smaller place, but it is becoming more of a stretch to see social media as a positive? That is not so say that it has no advantageous features, but to me, it’s been long merrily frankensteining.
The overriding challenge is that the pace of demand has far outstripped the technical capability to marshal it. No matter how smart a platform thinks it is, the collective brainpower of its several hundred million users surpasses it.
If we had a year or so to spare, we could debate the list of social harms that are facilitated by platforms, but the tech monoliths, or at least the moguls who operate them, are spooked only by investors getting the right hump about fake users because they shroud risky fiscals. It gives the money men a shuddering déjà vu and a mental teleport back to the bursting dot com shitbubble.
Now, techies, in their boys-bedroom worlds, lack the vision for any socially founded roadmap out of the mire. After all, social media was initially little more than an avoidance strategy. So they predictably fall back onto a technological solution, and we all know what that means – algorithms.
‘Let’s not address root causes and get our house in order but apply some universal rules to everybody else and trim down the festering scab’.
At stake is the monumental personal investment made by users, which comes with few safeguards. So much now depends on the Internet and social media, and not just social interactions. Businesses and livelihoods. If you end up getting screwed by a social media suspension, there’s more than likely going to be a rogue algorithm at play.
The scale of platforms is immeasurably expansive, so these algorithms are wound up to run amok precisely to chop out enormous swathes of users every day. And if you are inadvertently caught up in the dragnet, you can likely bend over, pucker up, and kiss your balloon-knot goodbye.
In the event that you do find the rug whipped out from beneath you, the mission – should you choose to accept it – is to urinate directly into two winds. The first is a near-total reliance on low-cost automation that is accompanied by scant common sense, and the second, a quasi-religious fanaticism for the infallibility of proprietary AI.
Even if a real person (and I use the term loosely) squints in the direction of your appeal, they will fall back on ‘computer says no.’ For the psycho-nerds, even irrefutable logic is trumped by their unshakeable belief in the coding sanctioned by their underboss. In big tech, the corporation is the world, the world is the wilderness, and God is whatever hip tit sits underneath the pretentious, inverted structure chart pyramid of the day.
This is not about computers taking over the world. It is about asshats with computers taking over the world. In today’s jittery times, a chilling prospect in itself.
Anybody with a small business will tell you how long it takes to grow an audience and how much that is worth. And that can go pop in the blink of an eye with a cheeky false positive. This is not to say that social media cannot play a part in connecting people and business stakeholders. It is about an appraisal of the risks, and most pointedly, the degree of immersion.
With many people ditching or sidelining social media platforms for mental health reasons, small business might think twice about how many eggs they put into these basket cases. They won’t be handed a paddle if they drift up a divergent creek.