Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Things That Keep Us From Interacting With Each Other


A previous post of mine tried to get into a significant part of why we find it so hard now to keep an ongoing, diverse, dialogue with each other; the better to work out a general consensus of what is true and important. That post put a significant part of the blame to both the inherent structural aspects of work life now (creating set groups of special interest via both employment and invested capital), as well as the ingrained sales mentality that will do and say anything to close the deal.

There is, of course, another dynamic going on here related, indirectly to sales. That is one aspect of the way social media is used now to induce eyeballs and brains to be at least in close proximity to various sales pitches. The practical side effect here, as we tweet and Facebook post away in our free time, is that, even when we are together, we are seldom truly in the moment and engaged with each other. What is interesting in this, however, is just how much effort went goes the programming, and page design, to induce an actual form of "addiction."

I mention this now because of the "The Atlantic" article linked below. Bianca Bosker has done an interesting piece on Tristan Harris (someone intimate with addiction by design) that deserves a read.

It seems that such addiction has finally gotten to the point where the former practitioners are realizing that we need to start talking back to the unquestioned application of such design modalities. And to whatever degree this new impetus gains traction it would be a good thing. Something the proponents are to be encouraged and congratulated on. One has to wonder, though, however well intentioned this effort is, at just how much it can be expected to change the underlying force that is at work here for getting people in view of messages to want and buy. Ethical standards to limit clever techniques to keep you doing face time with a screen might have some effect (and something is better than nothing after all), but aren't we still looking at what is, metaphorically, nothing more than trying to keep the Titanic afloat with bailing buckets?

The really discouraging part of what screen mediated "social interaction" entails is that it not only keeps you in the like minded posting channels already labeled as "echo chambers;" but also the fact that it is hardly real interaction at all; you know, human to human, with all of the intricate subtleties of actually engaging face to face.

The bottom line here is simple. If we cannot find a way to make conversation direct, diversified across all demographics, and on a continuous basis, we will continue to fracture into ever more disconnect groups who do not have any common grasp on reality. Not only will this make a unified republic impossible, it will also serve to make any cooperation at all between disparate groups equally impossible. Whereupon you have a bunch of neo Baltic, or neo middle Eastern, states even more at odds with each other, in all aspects of culture, morality, and governance, than the states that gave those terms their name. And from that, if history is any judge at all, all you can really count of from then on is the flow of a lot of blood.


The Binge Breaker

Tristan Harris believes Silicon Valley is addicting us to our phones. He’s determined to make it stop.