We Are The Product

The widespread use of media has brought along countless amounts of changes to the way people encounter, seek, and engage with news and information. Technology has the ability to easily share any information with others in one’s social networks. With the growth of technology, social media has allowed citizens to easily post, recommend, and distribute any type of content in their online social networks. Technology has now become a part of our everyday lives. It’s a necessity that individuals all across the world use on a daily basis.

Sharing social media has now become a part of our everyday life. Whether this be news articles, educational videos, music, sports news, political information, or entertaining content, our time in era has the ability to share any type of information at the length of our fingertips.

Our technology industry has expanded significantly within the past decade. Many social networking platforms have grown inseparably based on the amount of attention it has gained. Due to these social networks, there are a number of meaningful systemic changes that have happened by changing our world.

When social networking platforms were first released a new life was born. It was a cultural reset. No one had seen anything like this. Users all across the globe were able to connect with each other with just one simple click. This changed the world.

If you ask someone what is wrong in the tech industry right now they would not truly know. In our tech industry today, there have been a number of grievances and scandals. Stolen data, tech addiction, fake news, polarization, degrading of mental health, hacking through elections are all prime examples of these scandals. But there is something that is beneath all of these problems that is causing them to happen. There is a problem happening in our technology industry today.

“A lot of people think Google is just a search engine or Facebook is just a place to see what your friends are doing by seeing their photos. What you don’t realize is that these platforms are competing for your attention. So Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Tik Tok, Google, Pinterest, Reddit, LinkedIn, companies like these, their business model is to keep people engaged on the screen.” says Former Google employee, Tristan Harris.

Harris, founded the project Center for Humane Technology to raise awareness about the intentional design to make consumer technology addictive.

These companies want to figure out how they can get as much of your attention as possible. They want to figure out how much time they can get you to spend or how much of your life can they get you to give to them. By using these platforms they want to keep you occupied as much as possible to keep your attention only on these networks.

When you start to think how these companies work, it starts to make sense. There are all these services and applications on the Internet that you think are free, however, they’re not. These companies are paid for by advertising. They are paid in exchange for showing their advertisements to their audience. You are that audience.

“It’s the slight, gradual, imperceptible change in your own behavior and perception. That is the product. The product is progressively changing what you do, how you think, and who you are. This continuous change among individuals changes human behavior.” says Jaron Lanier, an American computer philosophy writer, computer scientist, and visual artist.

With a sudden shapeshift amongst our reality, we must now recover from what we once had. The year of 2020 has had a multitude of drastic changes that have transformed our society into a new era. Technology has been a rising factor due to isolation and quarantining in our own homes. Due to this, remote learning has affected hundreds of thousands of students across the globe that have a range of ages. I got the chance to virtually interview two seniors at Panther Creek that have shared their opinions of technology and the personal impact it has had on their lives since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Class of 2021, Josh Fletcher, states a clear but concise opinion about the technology industry today. “To me, our digital world is as awe-inspiring as it is nerve-racking. It’s difficult as a high school student that prefers privacy and isolation to be part of a culture that relies heavily upon its use. To be clear, I’m not condemning it. It’s just I tend to fall behind in my personal relationships and intellectual endeavors because of this reinforced cycle from desk to screen. By choosing to limit my use for mental health and other personal reasons, I sacrifice a part of daily life that undergoes a never-ending boom.”

Senior, Mackenna Baker stated that technology has changed her life personally due to the ongoing change without our lives today. “I feel it is hard to escape social media and devices because my life revolves around it now.”

If we go down the normal status quo as our generation is right now, we would destroy our civilization. We would degrade our society and ruin the global economy. We would not survive.

Is this the last generation of people that is going to know the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships among society through the media? Future generations will not have the ability to be educated on what the practice was from technology companies years prior due to the social patterns that are now engraved into our society.

“It is simultaneously utopia and dystopia.” says Tristan Harris.