Six Main Critiques of Big Tech

i) destroying the young

"...Social media promises to an end to loneliness that actually but produces an increase in solitude and an intense awareness of social exclusion. Texting and other technologies give you more control over your social interactions but also lead to thinner interactions and less real engagement with the world..."
David Brooks, 2017

With the spread of smart phones, teenagers have less face-to-face social contact.

The more time teenagers spend on social media, the more unhappy and depressed they become.

ii) causing addiction on purpose to make money

"...Tech companies understand what causes dopamine surges in the brain and lace their products with 'hijacking techniques'..."
David Brooks, 2017

People are rewarded the more often they use a site, eg
"...most social media sites create your regularly timed rewards: you have to check your device compulsively because you never know when a burst of social affirmation...... may come..."
David Brooks, 2017

iii) these near monopolies use their market power, ie

"...to invade the private lives of the users and impose unfair conditions on content creators and smaller competitors..."
David Brooks, 2017

It is interesting to note at that both the 'left' and the 'right' sides of politics are attacking social media:

- the 'left' as they are mammoth corporations

- the 'right' because they are culturally progressive

iv) social media encourage shallow forms of consciousness

It crowds out and destroys the deeper forms of consciousness. It encourages superficial thinking, eg initial stereotypical thought about a person or a situation, rather than deep reflective thought.

It is a place of data and information but not reflection:
"...online is a place of exploration but discourages cohesion. It grabs control of your attention and scatters it across a vast range of diverting things..."
David Brooks, 2017

vi) social media is a place of human contact but not intimacy

We need face-to-face contact to establish intimacy
"...an hour a day less spent with friends is an hour a day less spent building social skills, negotiating relationships, and navigating emotions......severe drop in going out and getting together with friends......it occurred right when smart phones became popular and social media use really took off. Time spent with friends in person has been replaced by time spent with friends (and virtual friends) online..."
Jean Twenge, 2017

"...some kids are too addicted to social media and games to interact with other people that are actually next to them..."
Kevin as quoted by Jean Twenge, 2017

The advent of social media and smart phones has shifted decisively from in-person interaction face-to-face to online. Yet the face-to-face interaction has been the dominant way of communicating the most of humans' existence.

There is some evidence to suggest youth who spend more time on screen activities are more likely to be unhappy than those who spend more time on non-screen activities.

Furthermore, people who interact face-to-face have better mental health and life satisfaction. This conforms that humans are inherently social beings who crave social interaction, ie
"...even a brief, randomly assigned experience of being socially rejected sends people into a tailspin, increasing aggression, creating feelings of hopelessness and causing them to eat more cookies..."
Jean Twenge, 2017

NB Our brains are exquisitely attuned to the impacts of social acceptance (positive) and rejection (negative)

In summary, the impact of continual use of social media on youth is threefold

i) negative impact on mental health like loneliness, unhappiness, depression, suicide, etc

ii) inflames anxiety amongst those who are susceptible, ie cyber-bullying, identity-discovery, etc

iii) those who crave hits of 'likes'  are generally the most vulnerable to mental health issues

 

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