I’ve Been Advocating A More Human Internet And Now You See Why
While humans are the creators of technology, that same technology seems to divide humankind.
It divides us into the “haves” and the “have nots”.
There are humans that know how to work with technology (“haves”) and there are humans that find technology scary and incomprehensible (“have nots”). But even among the humans that know how to let technology work for them, there are those who call the shots by designing clever algorithms (“haves”) and there are the humans whose lives seem to be directed by these algorithms (“have nots”).
Through my work as a social media coach as well as my writings, I have been advocating a more human approach to the Internet (you can find some of my outcries here, here, and here). The female entrepreneurs I’ve coached did not get any explanations of how Facebook, Twitter, etc. work until they had sat down to think about what their message would be. Moreover, why did they want to get involved on these platforms in the first place?
Imagine my surprise when I came across the articles from two of my (online) heroes, Arianna Huffington and Brian Solis, who were advocating exactly that! That being: bringing humans back into technology.
As Arianne wrote in September 2017, now republished on Medium:
“What’s fascinating about the debate about artificial intelligence is that it isn’t just about the threat AI potentially represents to humanity, but — a much more interesting and consequential debate — about what it actually means to be human.
If humans were simply intelligent machines, they could be seamlessly blended with the most intelligent of artificial intelligence with nothing essential lost. But if there is something unique and ineffable about being human, if there is such a thing as a soul, an inner essence, a consciousness beyond our minds, becoming more and more connected with that self — which is also what truly connects us with others — is what gives meaning to life. And it’s also what ultimately determines why technological progress decoupled from wisdom is so dangerous to our humanity.”
“By design, social media and personal devices were meant to seduce us. They were designed to give us a platform and feedback loop that is virtuous. Developers knowingly used many design techniques that are tied to addiction. It’s not only robbing us of time that could go toward more productive experiences, we’re investing in facades that negatively impact individuality, relationships, and self-esteem.
“As individuals, as brands as media, we have a choice in how we communicate, what we consume and how we steer value-added experiences that resurrect our idealism and swing the pendulum back from the dark side.”
In addition, Facebook’s recent upheaval has ignited the kind of discussions I may have secretly been wishing for. Not out of ill wishing for the platform – they are only human too – but because the users, we / us / the people, are waking up. We are coming to an awareness of the effects of our own online actions. All kinds of media have been throwing our own behaviors in our faces: from articles on how we give personal information too easily away to third parties to Elon Musk’s statement to delete Facebook (which ironically gave rise to a new hashtag, #DeleteFacebook, and therewith confirms our massive following behavior online…but that’s a whole other blog post).
For me there are no “good guys” or “bad guys” in these developments. I choose to focus on the fact that basically everybody’s behavior is now out in the open for the whole World Wide Web to see. No more secrets (probably still a few, but a girl can hope!). It’s not just the private information that we, as personal users, knowingly and unknowingly share with marketers, data collectors, and the universe. It’s the information about “big players”, companies such as Facebook, as well. I choose to focus on the fact that these revelations create an awareness among so many people. And it’s that awareness I have been wishing, waiting, and writing for.
Please, don’t let these recent developments and messages scare you. Let not their effect be one of fright, leading to paralysis. Instead, let’s see them as a moment of (spiritual) awakening. And just like with any spiritual awakening, after you’ve woken up to a more conscious, more connected reality, you can’t go back. Also, just like with any spiritual awakening you become aware of all sorts of choices. Choices that you never noticed before. Choices that take your life in a different direction, most likely guiding you to more happiness.
We are now all part of the “haves”.
So let’s consider the questions these events have raised: why are we using social media in the first place? For me it’s a part of my job, but what do these platforms bring you? And: what do you, now more consciously, wish to bring to these platforms?
Both Arianna and Brian are inviting us to join the debate. Voilà, I am adding my piece, or rather my peace, to it today. What will you do?