Google This; Be Wary of the Machine

In this day and age of Facebook and Google we tend to easily lose ourselves in a barrage of endless information. Caught up in being part of what we regard as “the Pack” we tend to engage ourselves by participating in an electronic reality where it is dangerously easy to become lost in a morass of sometimes meaningless data. Not only can this become a predictable way to express our own identity it can also quash our sense of individual worth. Some of us end up believing that we need to emulate the people we see on reality television to succeed or even the boobs on you tube doing various and assorted ridiculous stunts to draw attention to themselves in hopes of creating a “viral video”. The younger generation seems particularly vulnerable and decidedly numb to this type of exploitation.  Unfortunately the very same tools which can bring about so much potential convenience are the very same ones that can bring about a bridge of no return.

Not only are we being exploited on reality television we are also being exploited by what has become to be known as “Big Data”. As the use of electronic devices become necessary for our very existence in this highly competitive and technologically oriented world it is nearly impossible to “go off the grid”. Thus we are exposed to being tracked and marketed in every sense. Every website we go to, every store we make a purchase at, the types of products we use are tracked even our movements in retail outlets are recorded for future use. Our friends are tracked as well, the products they use, our interests, their interests — all of this information becomes valuable marketing data which is bought and sold like so many sacks of potatoes. Our privacy is gone. Today as this article was updated from a previous post the New York Times reports that Google is under investigation for illegally gathering data by scanning email from people using its “free” Gmail services. This includes an estimated half billion people worldwide.

The time has truly come to fruition were the marketers can now predict our behavior to a frighteningly large degree. Why is this new method of marketing so frightening? Simply because we are now considered commodities — as opposed to being individuals with unique thoughts and needs — we have now become the property of “Big Data” and are under their control with customized advertising geared to tell us what we need before we even know it ourselves. The ancient Chinese proverb says: “May you live in interesting times”. Well indeed we are and let’s keep up our vigilance to not lose our identity or our children’s identity in a pile of “Big Data” sponsored by your friendly neighborhood Google and Facebook where we voluntarily “feed the machine”.

1871-Samuel_Clemens.jpg

“America’s Facebook generation shows a submission to standardization that I haven’t seen before. The American adventure has always been about people forgetting their former selves. Samuel Clemens became Mark Twain, Jack Kerouac went on the road. If they had a Facebook page they wouldn’t have been able to forget their former selves.” — Jaron Lanier

“All media exist to invest our lives with artificial perceptions and arbitrary values.” — Marshall McLuhan

Get off the cell phone and Drive! — Jake Shween

Keep Your Identity; Be Wary of the Machine

In this day and age of Facebook and Google we tend to easily lose ourselves in a barrage of endless information. Caught up in being part of what we regard as “the Pack” we tend to engage ourselves by participating in an electronic reality where it is dangerously easy to become lost in a morass of sometimes meaningless data. Not only can this become a sad way to express our own identity it can also quash our sense of individual worth. Some of us end up believing that we need to emulate the people we see on reality television to succeed or even the boobs on you tube doing various and assorted ridiculous stunts to draw attention to themselves in hopes of creating a “viral video”. The younger generation seems particularly vulnerable to this kind of exploitation.  Unfortunately the very same tools which can bring about so much potential good are the very same  ones that can bring about a devastating evil.

Not only are we being exploited on reality television we are also being exploited by what has become to be known as “Big Data”. As the use of electronic devices becomes necessary for our very existence in this highly competitive and technologically oriented world it is nearly impossible to “go off the grid”. Thus we are exposed to being tracked and marketed in every sense. Every website we go to, every store we make a purchase at, the types of products we use are tracked and recorded for future use. Our friends are tracked as well, the products they use, our interests, their interests — all of this information becomes valuable marketing data which is bought and sold like so many sacks of potatoes. Our privacy is gone.

The time has truly come to fruition were the marketers can now predict our behavior to a frighteningly large degree. Why is this new method of marketing so frightening? Simply because we are now considered commodities — as opposed to being individuals with unique thoughts and needs — we have now become the property of “Big Data” and are under their control with customized advertising geared to tell us what we need before we even know it ourselves. The ancient Chinese proverb says: “May you live in interesting times”. Well indeed we are and let’s keep up our vigilance to not lose our identity or our children’s identity in a pile of “Big Data” sponsored by your friendly neighborhood Google and Facebook where we voluntarily “feed the machine”.

1871-Samuel_Clemens.jpg

“America’s Facebook generation shows a submission to standardization that I haven’t seen before. The American adventure has always been about people forgetting their former selves. Samuel Clemens became Mark Twain, Jack Kerouac went on the road. If they had a Facebook page they wouldn’t have been able to forget their former selves.” — Jaron Lanier

“All media exist to invest our lives with artificial perceptions and arbitrary values.” — Marshall McLuhan

Get off the cell phone and Drive! — Jake Shween

Rabble Rousing; The Media and You

We live in a time when news is used to generate viewership and profits. Often the wide spread horrors of the world, the stories that are haphazardly reported on, are shunned because they are not the stories that readily arouse our curiosity or anger. Much of this has to do with the way the media portrays these stories to us. Consider the case of the recent viral video “Kony 2012” which called the countries’ attention, however briefly, to the atrocities committed by Joseph Kony the head of a Ugandan guerrilla group, The Lord’s Resistance Army. These atrocities have been going on for years. It was not until film maker, Jason Russell, packaged the story into a viral video that we were made aware of the situation. There was an instant outpouring of support for the organization he was representing: Invisible Children Inc..

As an information society that is continuing to develop we have to be careful not to get caught up in group-think or mob mentality. It is now easier than ever to latch on to the story of the day and become disturbed by it. The information that we now receive almost instantly every day can be a curse as well as a blessing.  If we don’t take the time to make up our own minds we have lost our individuality altogether. We can be easily spoon-fed what the five major media conglomerates want us to hear and little else. Even with the advent of YouTube, the new kid on the block for spreading information, we need to be extremely wary of what we are seeing and hearing. It was only in the last century that film was first used as a propaganda tool. In 1925 the Soviet film director Sergei Eisenstein cleverly edited footage to show the Russian people why they needed to overthrow the Czar. It is now easier than ever to reach the masses with similarly clever editing to rouse their sentiments against injustice and social inequity or whatever other cause is the flavor of the day!

It is now more urgent than ever that we educate ourselves and are able to call to question what we see and hear every day. A population without a filter and the ability to distinguish what is right or wrong will quickly doom democracy as a viable form of government. We will become like lemmings ready to jump off the cliff when everyone else does with no way back to reason. So Dear Reader as you consider the everyday barrage of information that we call the news be wary, skeptical and thoughtful and make sure you get the whole story!

“A point of view can be a dangerous luxury when substituted for insight and understanding.” — Marshall McLuhan

“The media is too concentrated, too few people own too much. There’s really five companies that control 90 percent of what we read, see and hear. It’s not healthy.” — Ted Turner

“There is one other business where the customer is always wrong and that’s the media.” — Rush Limbaugh (He sure loves his Dittoheads!)
Get off the cell phone and Drive! — Jake Shween
J.B.