Submitted by Duion on
This is a follow up to the follow up of the last posts. I thought more about the whole thing with the modern internet, social media and how algorithms now decide what people get to see, even what they like and what they consume and came to the conclusion that this all may be a huge contributor to the insanity of humanity.
So let us break down what insanity even is, since there are different definitions, since insanity is usually defined as deviance from the social norms, but this cannot be used as a full definition since social norms change and are not objective. Social norms may be a relatively good measurement of sanity for the most part, just through probability, but they are not a definitive way of determining insanity, since insane behaviors can become social norms and then avoid being detected as insanity. So what is really meant with deviating from social norms, well in reality it is deviating from correct function of your brain, psyche and perception, since insane people often see things that are not there or make conclusions that are illogical.
Now to how the internet and especially social media changed the perception of reality for many people. Social media helps to connect you to like minded people and helps to promote like minded content to you, it is commonly known as the filter bubble in search engines, but this phenomenon goes further than just the search engine, it can translate to your whole life. So now with the internet you can find like minded people and can get validation for all kinds of deviant behavior or thought. This is good on one hand, but bad on the other hand, since I believe most deviant behavior is in fact deviant and not an improvement to the social norms that currently exist. Social norms were created over hundreds or thousands of years of evolution and even ancient cultures had often similar definitions of sanity and such. Now with the internet, we throw it all over board and everyone thinks he figured it all out. Now everyone can become a guru for everything, no study, training, qualification, tests, certifications etc are needed, nothing is needed at all, you just have to claim it and you will easily find people who will like and promote you.
The insane internet guru or followers now create their own reality and social norm that is then used for sanity check and the social media platforms help through algorithms to promote like minded people and content to them, since the algorithms figured out that is what people like. So whatever you want, you can get more of it and not only more of it, you can avoid being exposed to content or people that may question your imaginary world you live in. Social media also offers great tools to censor and ban people in case they still figure to find their way into an area where not everyone agrees with each other. It happened to me so much that I got banned, before I could even start a debate. You can try for yourself, go into a christian community and argue from the atheist standpoint and then go into an atheist community and argue from a christian standpoint, in both cases you will most likely not be welcome and may be even banned long term.
Such behavior like censoring and banning people is so normal to most people, that they don't even realize how insane that is. One of the easiest ways to show this is an allegory, so let's make one: Imagine you live in the real world and not on the internet. What is the real world equivalent to a chat room? Well maybe your local bar, park or marketplace etc, wherever people gather and talk to each other. Now imagine people talking with each other and someone in the group starts disagreeing and then the others quickly call security guards to physically remove him from the scene and physically prevent him from speaking words that do not agree with everyone else. Have you ever witnessed that? Of course not (hopefully not), but in the internet it is very normal, since you can just press a button and remove people you do not like or their opinions from your chat room or your group or completely from your social circles. Like you can build your reality how you want and social media gives you the tools and technology for that, just that fact alone is already a proof for insanity.
Sure social media can be used for good purposes, but the way it is designed it also promotes insanity, the computer cannot distinguish between that and the companies behind that do not care either, they just want to satisfy the customers so the customers gets anything he wants, but a lot of times he is also told what he wants and then he wants it and then he gets it and then he gets more of it, since the computer algorithm found out he likes it and so on. A life guided by computer algorithms may make people pretty stupid, since the computer cannot adapt, but the human can.
There was a funny experiment I once made myself, well it was not really planned as one, but it turned out as one. I setup a chatbot that would talk random things depending what people tell him and then he would "learn" from it and "combine" new sentences and talk back to people. Of course after some time the chatbot spilled just nonsense, which was funny to some degree, but after some time I noticed the people chatting to the chatbot for a longer time learned to learn the language and grammar of the chatbot, which was of course guaranteed nonsense, but the people were able to somehow learn to speak like that. Well in the end it was all an algorithm and people may subconsciously learn that. So I thought to myself, that if people would get exposed long term to this insane chatbot, they would turn insane themselves, well and this is what I think is happening with social media and their algorithms that they run on people. Seemingly they are designed to be very intelligent and may give great results at first glance, but there just needs to be one error and it could turn into a chain reaction, since it can spread very fast thanks to the internet.
These chain reactions already happened many times, where there was some glitch in a system and people figured it out and exploited it. They knew what the algorithm was looking for to determine good quality content and build content that would only fulfill the data points the algorithm was looking for and not much else. So to the algorithm such specially tailored content looks like the best quality content ever, but in reality it is all nonsense and most humans can even tell that by just looking at it for a few seconds, but the "intelligent" algorithm is 100% blind to it.
The key point to promoting insanity is probably that the internet and social media manipulate the perception of reality, since everyone's reality is now "individualized" and tailored to them. I still have memories from the times on the internet before social media, it was all different, people were more open and easier to talk to, I had lots of debates of controversy topics, like christian vs atheist and such stuff and it was possible to do to, there were no buttons to just remove comments or ban people with a click of a button, sure those methods existed back then, but usually they could only be used by admins and they used it very sparsely. With social media everyone gets his own realm where he can be his own dictator. Another example is that now, you somehow cannot be friends with people if you do not agree with everything they say or like. In my childhood it was no big deal, I was friends with people who were into stupid things from my point of view such as soccer or wrestling, but I still could be friends with them and I was open to their interests. Now when I find new friends it is almost always the same process, you talk to them until a topic comes up where you disagree with them and they often instantly get extremely angry and quit the friendship immediately. Such behavior is highly insane, a normal sane person is able to deal with reality, even if he is exposed to people that do not agree with them. Such normal sane behavior was much more common in the times before social media or even before the internet. There may be different reasons for this phenomenons, but I'm pretty sure social media plays a key role in that. You can directly see it by yourself, since most popular social media stars have some kind of mental issues and I can understand why that makes them more popular, since it has entertainment value, but apart from that it has not much value for humanity and it is also morally wrong, since normal people will go and try to imitate those people and may emulate their insanity themselves.
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