I remember when I heard about Facebook for the first time. Back then, in 2008, it seemed so new and fun – you could chat with your friends, upload photos, and meet new people. What else could a young adult dream about? I immediately made myself an account and started to enjoy it.
The initial goal of this social network was to help people connect with each other. Pretty wonderful mission, isn’t it?
Now, 13 years later, the role of Facebook and other social media giants has changed dramatically. They have ceased to be just online communities where you could chat with your fellows and make acquaintances.
They have grown to gain a political and social power that the leaders of the past could only dream about. Let’s explore a few examples that demonstrate that social media giants took over world power.
Social Media Giants Have More Political Power Than Countries’ Leaders
If you’ve been following my site for a while, you know that I never touch political topics. However, I have no choice but to refer to one example from political life.
Remember the Capitol Hill riot in January 2021? And how Donald Trump’s Facebook and Twitter accounts were blocked in the blink of an eye?
Regardless of what your opinion about Trump is, forget about your political position for a moment and think about the essence of this incident.
Social media sites blocked a country’s leader’s account. I support no one and have no interest in keeping up with political events, but when I heard about it, I was shocked.
Basically, people behind Facebook and Twitter – people who were never given the right to determine the course of political events and were never voted for – turned out to have more power than an elected U.S. president.
Isn’t it scary?
Social Media Is the World’s Biggest Censor
When it comes to censorship, social media’s power is even more frightening. In essence, people who pull the strings of the social media giants have found themselves enjoying the absolute right to define what information is correct and what is false.
We are so lucky that social media didn’t exist during the time of the dictatorial regimes of the past that had rigid censorship systems and persecuted people who didn’t conform to the official ideology. Hitler could only dream about having this kind of power.
Let me refer to another event that affects everyone in the world on so many levels – the COVID-19 pandemic.
Not so long ago, Facebook updated its guidelines regarding the content related to the pandemic. The list contains many different types of prohibited publications, but let’s explore a couple of examples:
Claims that wearing a face mask can make the wearer sick
Essentially, Facebook prohibits even mentioning that wearing a mask has side effects. But the joke is that even WHO admits that these side effects are very real.
A year ago, the organization published a guide to using face masks during the pandemic, which contains a list of 11 potential harms/disadvantages of the use of masks by healthy people.
Claims that COVID-19 vaccines kill or seriously harm people
So what do we do with the official statistics that clearly demonstrate how many deaths and serious side effects there were as a result of the vaccination? Should we pretend like they don’t exist?
Obviously, social media wants us to see only one side of the story. The only correct point of view has already been chosen for us, and we should blindly follow it and forget about critical thinking.
All this reminds me of George Orwell’s 1984.
You may say that all this is done with good intentions and for our safety, but let me tell you one more thing. While having rigid censorship regarding the pandemic, social media turns a blind eye to some really harmful information.
As a result of the global hype around cryptocurrencies, numerous scams popped up. During the last year, an imaginable number of fraudulent links advertising investments in Chinese crypto have been shared on Facebook.
Moreover, these scam websites also used Facebook ads to attract more visitors. I personally have seen these kinds of ads dozens of times for the last few months.
So, it looks like you can easily share and promote a scam to fool as many people as you wish, but you can’t talk about the side effects of face masks…
Now, that’s some good food for thought.
Social Media Has Become Our Biggest Addiction
Let me ask you something. What if you checked your smartphone or laptop tomorrow morning just to find that all popular social media networks are gone? No Facebook, no Twitter, no Instagram. How would you feel?
I don’t know about you, but many people would feel totally devastated. All their profiles would be gone, with all those nice photos, status updates, likes, and comments.
How would they fill their free time during lunch breaks and evenings after work? What would they do instead of scrolling the Facebook feed and checking on the latest photos from their favorite Instagram influencer?
These habits have become an essential part of our daily lives. For many people, checking their social media feeds is the first thing to do in the morning and the last thing to do before falling asleep.
Social media networks have turned our natural psychological need for approval into an ugly, unhealthy addiction.
I’m talking about this urge to share something or upload a new selfie just to see other people’s reactions. How many likes will the post get? Will there be comments too? Will people like my new outfit?
The limitless possibilities of social media have led us to the mental prison of constant approval-seeking. And the worst part is that we can no longer live without all this, which means that first of all, social media giants have limitless power over each one of us.
Social media evokes the baser instincts and selfish impulses in us – the need to show off, be superior, and feel good about yourself by putting others down.
Remember all those Internet trolls, attention-seekers, and Instagram divas. Social media feeds their most toxic impulses and gives them the illusion of superiority, success, and happiness.
The World Ruled by Social Media Giants
I don’t know about you, but for the last year, I have had a persistent feeling that we live in some kind of dystopian society – like those we’ve seen in sci-fi movies. It feels like the gloomy future science fiction authors warned us about is already here.
The political and social power of those people who pull the strings of the social media giants is practically limitless. I don’t know who put them in charge, but today, they have the biggest impact on society all over the world.
And as long as we stay in this mental prison of approval-seeking and blindly consume information without analyzing it, this power will only grow.
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This Post Has 10 Comments
VERY WELL SPOKEN AND WRITTEN….
well written! Thank you.
FYI – I would be just fine if all social media was go in the morning! 🙂
What took you so long to realise this?
I realized it long ago but hesitated to write about it all this time…
Very True! I got off social media ten years ago. I never enjoyed it. It always felt invasive to me.
There is this longing in many people now because of the state this world, mainly because the lack of love/compassion feels so alien. Just think of what it must be like for young people waking up in this world today.
Coupled with this this, there is the growing evidence of those who have had NDE’s; that they have to be shown why they would benefit from remaining here for a while longer in order to cope with the longing to return to what has just been consciously experienced and therefore remembered. I write this not as hearsay, but of having experienced 2 NDE’s.
What is regarded as being ‘human’ is a brief temporary sojourn here of beings from all over the show. So of course, the sensitive ones will feeling a longing to be somewhere else at this time.
If you haven’t done already, it would be good to have an article about the vast difference between emotion and feeling. I was in mental health and as a psychotherapist in London for 30-years. I used to teach psychotherapy students, always empathizing the difference between emotion (psychological reactions) and feeling that comes from the heart via ESP.
What you’re talking about here is feeling, the longing that mystics have written about and also expressed through poetry.
Thank you for your tireless work.
I work as a moderator for a large metro newspaper in the midwest. This is a topic that I am met with daily. People complain when comments are rejected, and allege censorship. Let’s talk about that. The fact is that social media companies are PRIVATE COMPANIES that have the right to withhold comments that violate their standards. Customarily, in order to participate on such a forum, a user has to read those standards and sign to agree to those standards. Many forums, such as Facebook and Twitter, are media giants but they are also private companies. Facebook and Twitters are built on just one premise, and that is to make money: not for the public, but for the owners of those companies. So yes, there is a problem here, but it’s not about censorship. It’s about the fact that social media has begun to operate as a blowhorn for people who want their narrative amplified to a wide audience. As these companies are not PUBLICLY owned, they can rightfully discern what is publishable. This ensures not just that the content should be appropriate for the readers, but it also protects the company from legal liability. The point I’m trying to make is it’s critical for people to understand that while people have the fundamental right to free speech, they do not have the right to use private platforms for incitement to violence, character assassination, or to promote tyranny. While a responsible publisher is careful about what gets published, their discernment is not censorship. It’s about ensuring that no one should violate the rules of the platform to instigate violence, acts of cruelty, lies or ad hominem attacks. There are plenty of websites where a person can submit such content. Private companies have the right to regulate how their platforms are used and content moderators serve to keep the dialogue civil and honest.
okay, I see your point about the way it works, but how does it apply to the examples used in this article? what happens when it’s the TRUTH – not just obviously harmful information such as violence etc – that is prohibited from being spoken on these platforms?
Social Media can and should not be seen as (private) publishers, but as modern equivalents of the book- press. Without having a bookpress at your disposal it’s impossible to reach out. The same goes for printed books. If Amazon decides not to list your book, it’s not going to sell. Your – perhaps very good -arguments won’t be noticed. And this is actually happening right now. Parler seemed a good Twitter-alternative. Until Apple dropped it from its app-store. All such decisions are legal at the moment. And will stay so, because as long as Silicon Valley aligns its ‘values’ with mainstream politics, profits only rise.
Hi Anna, Thank you for sharing very similar thoughts on subject, which went through my mind and on the paper/copy some years ago. I had a little more time out of work to contemplate the past years and life. It lead to depressive conclusion we all are lead to deceptive world. FB was caught red handed after Trump won thanks to harvested data from their platform with help of Cambridge Analytica and other means. Yes it all reminds me Orwellian world we can easily slip into, even in democratic system. The question is why we just do not communicate one-to-one, and do not look into official websites, papers and media outlets, we trusted or not, before the rise of likes of FB, Twitter, Google, Amazon? They have been manipulating with our perception of the world probably too, but there was a name behind the article, there was some peer collective decision on release of the article or information and possible response to it from readers. The media were limited in numbers. The social platforms were also limited to school, work, clubs, theatres, cinemas, cafes, parties, travels, health centre, gyms and sport venues, shops, squares, parks, organised hobbies. Yes it had its limitation in remote areas or for people confined to home. Now that is obliterated but what we have instead? Direct communication is limited and managed by bots to deal with any enquiry or to contact real person releasing data. In one way it opens the world of other opinions and activities and that is seen as positive. On the other hand, what is the quality and reasons for the data sent out to the open and effect of the activity on us is other matter and less then clear. It is up to algorithms, decisions of the owners of the big data companies.
I read articles more then decade ago warning or promoting that future is in the digital data and what we place on them. Certainly there was an enthusiasm when FB started and suddenly we could be online with old friends or in theory find new. I never did, but made use of it to try to keep in touch with some people. Now I do not use it other then promote my website, and it is not working well 🙂 The reality is that it is a virtual world, deceptive, and we can get sucked into its lures and promises. The issue is worse for those born after social medial started to operate among us, or people in remote places or remote relationships. They can suffer the addiction more then anyone else. It is often only way, it seams, to contact with people around or schools, jobs. Nobody calls, writes. For example if someone wants me to do something for them, they send me text, even if they can pick up the phone and call. There are situation text may work better, clarifying the matter we talked about. But where is the whole person behind? That what I call next level of fragmentation in our human psychological experience. Not only we do not see that we are part of bigger pool of life, animals, plants included, but as we developed ideas and practices making us superior, divided from all other living beings. The fragmentation separates us from vital and enriching connections with natural world. If I speak about this topic, people mostly see it as I am being too sensitive. Which shows the detachment we have in general from millennia of development outside the bigger natural world.
But nowadays when humanity creates far better communication for remote situations then we had two hundred years ago, we do not know how to use it without losing a part which made us human – speech and connection with others through it. In todays world we can easily leave our own psychology untrained in contact with real people, animals, plants, life. That is a trap of social digital world, games, communication without a real person facing us. Avatars, bots are not real.
It would not be possible for me to read your articles if you are based in other continent, or respond, say my view. The issue is not the possibility, but that we know it has no base in reality and this dissonance can lead to problems if we rely on the digital communication as the only means of contact, validation, communication. It begs for training, education and regulation of privately owned social media, their internal protocols for safety, even policing the behaviour. It creates too much pressure on already lagging social system and psychological help and school personnel, police etc. Sometimes switching it all seams the least expensive solution of a growing problem. Why to train millions of hackers to find the abusers on social media if they themselves can be biased as they are unlikely to face the person behind the screen. I see danger in that way and possible censorship or discrimination without base in real world. Will the generation, which grew up with digital tools, be able to police their own dependence on them? It is up to us, those who still remember times without them, to show the way to rely and relate to real people. Before we all are way too digitised.
I wish all those suffering as a result of social media abuse or frauds and deceptions to get a courage to cut the cord and save themselves from further traumas. It is can be difficult already, but it is still possible. Take the chance once it is still there. And tell others personally how you managed to free yourself or not.