Will the Internet bring us to a state of oblivion? by@owenfar

Will the Internet bring us to a state of oblivion?

Owen Far HackerNoon profile picture

Owen Far

Full Stack Engineer

Shady blue image with a bunch of different apps

If we don’t understand the underlying factor of their intent use, the Internet and other technologies such as VR can bring us to a state of oblivion. I can imagine a day when VR packages will come with a warning label saying: “Remember that life is good on the outside. Please use this product mindfully.”

Do we still need platforms like Facebook today?

Before technology — such as the Internet — ever existed, we used to go home to relax our bodies and minds, no one outside our home could disrupt us so easily, and simply with a touch of a screen. Even when home lines were a thing, at least, we had to make an effort to wake up and reach out for the telephone. There was nothing like smartphones in our pockets that would interrupt our moment of peace. What is happening to us today?

Technology and certain websites make you want to come back to put an end to your curiosities, or maybe to relax your mind. We spend countless hours staring at the screen, not realizing the actual effects of the material thrown at us to keep us connected. I’m sure it happened to most of us at some point or another. Why do these services want us to spend so much time using their platforms? As things are always shifting, TV ads aren’t as popular as they used to be, and business-minded people always want the most popular platform that drives the most traffic, thus offering them better reachability, and a wider range of audience.

As an individual, do you really need apps and services like Facebook? We end up having a quick look at what’s new on the platform, maybe because it relaxes us, but what’s really happening to us is that we’re constantly trapped in someone else’s moments, feelings, ideas, actions, creations, beliefs, or emotions (any kind of media-type platforms). You might even start feeling envious, or get more upset on a hitherto bad day, when you start to notice that everyone else seems to be doing so much better than you. Your mood already changed at this point, and all of this happened because you wanted to check how many people liked your photo. How quickly are we able to switch off our focus from such services, and get back to what we were doing before in our real lives?

Do you think that this technology and the means of instant communication are also common triggers or causes for certain mental disorders (like depression or anxiety)? Our mind wasn’t meant to handle so many obligations at the same time, and all the time. How is it that now more than ever, these platforms continue to spread around like a virus? I’m not saying that this happens to everyone, but how is this technology really affecting our lives today? I think that we are already spending way too much time on our connected devices.

It was recently proven to be ever so true, when companies like Apple and Google gave us better control over a “distraction free” environment on our mobile device. Now, as if to make people a bit more mindful about their own service, Facebook (and Instagram) will also release a time management tool for their users. The addiction of smartphones and the mobile industry grew to such an extent that they quickly became the norm nowadays. We eat, we shower, we work, we exercise, and we browse the Internet (or look at screens).

To sum up, you don’t go back to a safe home anymore. You are not able to just be anymore. To spend more time with your inner self, and set aside quality time with your family and friends. To appreciate more free time, and to be able to do something better. Instead, we are all trapped by the media and technological devices spreading around us. A new medium that is as common to find, as a carton of milk on the side of a fridge. A medium that shrinks your productive hours into minutes.

What kind of wizardry do these companies use?

The ancient Internet-wizardry secret book

Most of the large corporations and companies today all have one end-goal in common. They want to find ways to keep you using or buying whatever they provide or sell. We are usually very careful about what we buy, especially if we’re going to spend money on something. Most of us never stop to wonder: “How come other companies don’t offer the same services for free?”, “Do they expect us to spend our money on their product, when we have several other free services available online?”. We all enjoy using things for free, but nothing is truly for free. We should always be careful before using or accepting something for free, especially online.

How does a social media website like Facebook survive? The more people use their product, the more their ad profits thrive. To put it more simply, they sell, use, or analyze your private data and browsing history altogether. From ad companies to sponsored posts, Facebook is constantly monitoring your browsing experience behind the hood, to intelligently force push content that is more relevant to you, which in turn makes it more likely that you’ll click on the ad — and so, more money flows in.

Most of these companies spend hundreds of hours on research every year on implementing methods to study or predict human behaviors. They use these techniques first and foremost to keep you locked in. The right emotion placed right in front of you. They make billions from advertising content and from the same millions of active users using their own services. For example, by launching a campaign to have more “likes” on your Facebook page. You are paying for something they brought into existence. Could this be the only way you can promote yourself?

Should I remind you that you don’t own that data anyways? If this is you, maybe you should learn how to start driving more traffic to your own platform instead. To trust the people that follow you and appreciate what you do. There’s nothing better than a curated and thoughtfully built environment that is uniquely built for your audience. You shouldn’t be spending money on “like” campaigns — but rather use this money to drive more traffic to your own service or platform. If you don’t have one, it’s never too late to start either. There’s no reverse button, the Internet is the future, and there’s no escaping it at this point. I have a feeling that Facebook just won’t cut it till the end. For example, I think that an “ad-free” environment is crucial for such a platform to survive a future world of Internet computing. We should start to think differently in ways that we can support our platform, and help others in return.

Facebook’s core value and goal is very simple, but easily ignored — keep the user as engaged as possible, and the money keeps flowing in. Their concept and idea is that with each feature they provide, they will continue to make the experience of their application unbeatable, hence drawing you even more in. It’s you that can suffer, not them.

There are already billions of active users on some of these social media websites. What happens when that percentage gets closer to the worlds’ population? Suddenly, these companies have the power to control the billions of audience’s behaviors from their platforms. If that doesn’t scare you, then I might as well pack everything and go with Musk to Mars. These companies know what they’re doing, and they know that Internet communication technologies and online applications have basically become immortal by now. These companies see how easy it can be to manipulate users on the Internet and reach a bigger audience online. Bigger audience brings bigger stakes on their plates, and bigger stakes brings bigger power. Unfortunately, having so much power makes them blind to the real effects that their applications are having on the rest of us using it on a daily basis. I never received any real (business) value from using a platform like Facebook, and I would be happy to hear success stories that don’t involve cats and pandas around there.

We have even bigger companies such as Google that offer many more free services like Google Maps, Analytics, Hangouts (chats), YouTube, Gmail, and much more, to continue learning human behaviors, and to potentially use this data to create greater minds than human minds. If not all, they already probably own half of your life’s worth of digital data online. We also know that Google is the leading company in Artificial Intelligence, and what comes next is inevitable, but unknown.

Closing thoughts

These platforms pushed into existence other benefits — an inter-connected world

Things aren’t all negative

We should continue bringing up more arguments about the positive and negative aspects of these technologies. If we lean more towards one side of the scale, we need that to be the positive side — and I hope you agree. We should all understand the basic strategies of well-established companies. We don’t need to be scared by the use of Internet technologies, and we need to know that it isn’t as hard as it seems to start doing something of our own online. You don’t need a Facebook page to have a successful online business. The Web was created for that particular reason, and I should remind you that it’s an open platform — unlike many other closed platforms.

Blockchain, VR, AI, and all of these blockbuster words are only words created by other human fellows, just like you and me. Don’t be scared or fooled by the psychological marketing techniques being constantly used around you. The technology that drives them is simply another language (or new methods) these people create to build, maintain, and control their own new advancements and breakthroughs. Neural networks and super-computers, complex mathematical algorithms, and digital nano-electronics will all bring countless possibilities to fruition. But the fundamental question should always stay the same: In what ways will this technology shape and effect our society, and help us humans to continue surviving?

I don’t think platforms like Facebook are the answer. You’ll have to be the one to recognize the effects technology brings, and say no to something you’ve been using for so long. It becomes addictive, and addiction is hard to simply ignore. Revenue and profit is what drives the biggest industries around you, and as long as their money keeps dribbling in, they don’t care much about the rest of us. It’s us who can bring a change. Stop giving priorities to services you shouldn’t care so much about. Take a moment to try and understand if the apps you use bring you any legitimate value. What will you do if this technology you use today ceases to exist?

Thank you for reading!

I would really love to hear your comments regarding these thoughts — critics are always welcome around here too. What are the benefits you gain (for business) from platforms like Facebook that you can’t get from anywhere else? Is it the ease of reachability, or maybe the fact that everyone else uses these platforms?

Until next time,

Owen Far

Follow me here or join my newsletter if you want to keep learning the crucial secrets of web development. You can also have a look at my upcoming book: Becoming a professional web developer.

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