Life under Digital Burning Glasses

I have just finished watching the documentary “The social media dilemma”. If you haven’t seen this documentary: It’s about the fact that formerly influential employees of big tech companies from Silicon Valley warn about how much power these companies got over the data of single individuals. That this data is deliberately manipulated in order to change behavior. And the long term concern that this is partly contributing to destabilizing our democracy more and more.

I found the documentary very exciting. It was suggested that we need to stand up for changing laws and changing the balance of power, as well as the proper taxation of corporations. I find this approach right and important. BUT we will not be able to stop the development of social media. That would be like trying to turn back time. I would like to add another aspect to this topic. The question is still how to bring the influence that the “outside” has on us and our consciousness back under our own control.

I once learned that, in times in which the outside changes strongly, one is challenged to change oneself. This is sometimes easier said than done. I think we are all increasingly challenged to examine our own behavior in order not to be eaten up by the (increasingly digital) world that wants our attention. I even believe that not just any algorithms are the “problem” of our time. I think they are just the focal point for areas in our lives where we can definitely still learn something.

discipline of our own attention, always sounded like something serious to me first. That now even the last fun is taken away. I had to realize that this ability is anything but serious. What actually takes away the fun in our lives is when we no longer have any attention “left over”. We need this to question things and make the right decisions.

Another aspect (and absolute classic) is to keep control over our own emotions. The things I said to my boyfriend yesterday in the last fight out of annoyance and anger are not the things I am insanely proud of. They are trigger points, which by the way are totally easy to manipulate. But anger and annoyance seem to be an appropriate reaction in our society when we disagree with things and circumstances or feel that we are wrong. And at some point, we find it “right” to rebel. Or to give someone a good fiddle. Of course, the whole thing is even easier in a comment column of a post about refugees, or under an online article about Covid-19. Have you ever noticed that the anger you vent on others does nothing to improve the situation you’re angry about? It doesn’t get better for the person who gets the brunt of it. It doesn’t get better for the one who fires it either.

In our society we are afraid of being controlled by machines. I don’t know about you guys, but when I am overwhelmed and tired (which is very often the case when the anger or resentment has gone), I act like a machine. The behavior is automatic, and often an exact repetition of something I have always done, a cause triggers an effect.

Do you want to turn the tables and get back on the wheel again? It means a bit of work and training, but the result is that you decide, not some algorithm, corporation or circumstance.

If your goal is to change an event or remedy a situation, the place to start is with the portion that is your responsibility.

Harry Palmer, Author of the Avatar Materials

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