We so much care about our physical freedom, but in the digital space, we are so lost. We are being owned, controlled and traded for money, that too without our knowledge. On top of that, we are being experimented upon so as to modify our behaviour. Is this something we should care about?
With the onset of the second wave of COVID and the possibility of lockdowns in certain parts of the country, last years’ feeling of uncertainty is back. No, the extent is different, we are better prepared this time and we know it’s short-lived. But the fact that we will again be locked down inside four walls with or without family is certain and with that comes boredom and FOMO.
The question is what are we entertaining ourselves with? How are we maintaining sanity? Humans are social creatures, we survive with each other and need social recognition to have a sense of identity. Due to the lack of physical social space around us, we have moved to digital space. And yes we have a lot of option from video calling our friends and family, chatting on Signal and WhatsApp, using Facebook and Instagram to see what’s happening with others and thus our time goes by.
What is scarier than getting or seeing others with COVID is the fact how the dark design of these social media platforms is subconsciously altering our behaviour, without even our consent or knowledge. At times we are too late to recognise this. Since we are prone to be brainwashed and conditioned by the social system or society we live in, which has now moved to Facebook and Instagram. So now social media is conditioning us, it is ensuring that we abide by the rules of beauty (tall, slim and fair), happy marriage, buying unnecessary products and all sorts of comments on it, which people usually are afraid to say in person.
How many of us agree that Instagram is the first thing we open up in the morning and the last thing to close at night, how many hours of continuous scrolling have done in past one year without any external disturbance to part us.
Here I am not going to talk about the targeted advertisement or dark and addictive algorithms used by such platforms but rather how Instagram is defining our lives, from skincare, makeup, music choices, corporate jargons, wedding and clothing must-haves.
Are we losing our sense of identity here? Are we becoming one of those herd followers? Are we subconsciously opting for choices mentioned by those influencers on Instagram? People are even believing and buying medical advice over there!
Is this something we should be worried about? The difference between real and fake is very blurry even now, which should make us question everything from products to the very people being real or not.
So how should we protect ourselves out there? I think the answer is simple, how we protect ourselves in the real world. We become knowledgeable, we don’t trust strangers, we find our comfort groups, we lock our doors and ensure that very little private information is available out there.
We just need to convert the same basic safety precautions online, first by becoming aware of our privacy and platform rights, second be wary of strangers, always vet them online before including them in your circle, third don’t throw sensitive information out there for people to pry on you rather only with people you know. I sincerely believe that in the coming few years digital privacy will become a huge thing to debate about and become a powerful right.