I’ve noticed this for a while now, but I never said anything about it: I think my browser is stalking me.
Every time I click on an article, or browse a shopping site, or surf anywhere, I soon see ads related to them. Right now on Facebook, I have ads for Star Wars toys, Doge shirts, and costume elf ears (which shows you the kind of geek I am). Amazon sends me ads based on the books I look at. Facebook shows me “Trending” subjects based on what it thinks I want. Twitter does the same.
My browser is stalking me. It wants to please me, but it’s controlling me by showing me what I “want” to see.
Social Media and browsers have become a form of social control. They are inadvertently controlling the information you have access to, and by creating this myopic view, I’m becoming lost in my own thoughts and opinions, believing them to be TRUTH, and not accepting any dissenting voices. I’ve become what I hate: ignorant and lacking empathy.
Recommendations For You
Thank you, Google for recommending all these things that I might like. You’re absolutely right, I do like them. I want the Doge shirts and Star Wars toys. I want sponsored content from The Nerdist. I want to read stuff from The New York Times and The Atlantic. You know me well. But you have to let me make my own choices. Set me free, why don’t cha babe?
I know that you’re only trying to help, but it’s getting creepy. Maybe we should spend some time apart. Alas, I am codependent on you. I need you, and you tell me what to do, what to click, what to buy, what to read.
I am most concerned with the articles that you send me (though my social media friends are also guilty). I only see articles that support my ideology, and because I like having my ego stroked, I read them. It feels so good to have my world view vindicated. Oh baby, you know exactly what I want. Give me those unsourced, partisan rants. Give me the click bait. Give ’em to me good.
But like I said, it’s making me dumb. I have to make an effort to see things from other points of view, and you are making it so very hard. I’m losing empathy.
We are losing empathy. Society is losing empathy, and it’s because we’re only seeing what we want to see. The TRUTH is not truth. There’s always a slant, but when we see the same things over and over, they become truth to us. It’s dangerous, and I’m sure every one of you has seen the effects. I’m sure you’ve gotten into some sort of rage fight on the net. It’s because we’ve lost the ability to debate and take other people’s POV as opinion and not an attack. The Internet Is Not Your Safe Space. It’s an open forum where people should be allowed to debate civilly.
It is not. It’s a place for CAPS LOCK.
A Meme You Can Trust?
I need to take a moment out to talk about memes, especially political memes. Political issues are incredibly complicated. People can study them for years, decades, their entire lives, and still not understand. Even the experts disagree.
Politics cannot be explained in meme form. More often, they spread misinformation and propaganda. Even if they say that they are sourced, anyone can Photoshop that in. Do you check the source? Do you use fact-checking sites like Snopes.com?
Please fact check before you post a meme. Misinformation is also Social Control.
Knowledge Is Power. Bias Is Weakness. Tips To Avoid the Hype
I think that I’ve found a way to throw off the Internet’s stalkercising (as an ex used to call taking long walks near her cute professors’ houses). Let’s see if these tips work:
- Clear your cookies. I’ve noticed that it helps a little, or at least slows it down.
- Click on articles with dissenting views. Even better, click on ones from reputable sources.
- Fact check all memes, or just ignore them. As I said, misinformation is social control.
- Spend time in public, like diners and bars. Listen to what people have to say, but don’t say anything. Contemplate that their views are as valid as yours.
- Don’t be a dick. Don’t say anything on the Internet that you wouldn’t say in polite company. Don’t blast people on their own Facebook pages. Don’t gaslight opposing views. Just don’t be a damn dick.
That’s it. Easy rules to live by. Google, set me free. Social media friends, set me free.
I may be right or wrong, and if you disagree, that’s just fine.