I’m mostly visual thinker, and thoughts pose like theater scenes in my mind. When many of my supportive family members, friends, and colleagues ask how I’m doing, I find myself on a cliff, obscured by a past omniscient fog. its edge. I’m on the brink, with my parents and sisters, finding my way down. In the scene, there was no sound or urgency and I was waiting for it to swallow me up. I’m looking for shapes and navigational clues, but it’s too big, gray, and endless.
I want to take that fog and put it under the microscope. I started searching Google for grief episodes, books, and academic research on loss, from my iPhone app, learning about the personal disaster while waiting for coffee or watching Netflix. How will it feel? How will I manage it?
I have begun, knowingly and unknowingly, to absorb people’s experiences of grief and tragedy through Instagram videos, various news feeds, and Twitter testimonials. It was as if the internet had secretly cooperated with my compulsion and begun to satisfy my own worst fantasies; the algorithm is a kind of priest, confession and communion.
However, with each search and click, I inadvertently created a sticky digital grief website. In the end, it was nearly impossible to debug for myself. My sad digital life is kept in amber by malicious personal algorithms that have deftly observed my mental preoccupations and brought me many cancers and loss of life. cooler than ever.
I was out – finally. But why is it so hard to unsubscribe and opt out of content we don’t want, even if it’s harmful to us?
I am well aware of the power of algorithms—I have written about mental health impact of Instagram filtersthe polarizing effect about Big Tech’s fascination with participation and Weird ways advertisers target specific audience. But in the midst of panic and hazy search, at first I felt that my algorithms were a good motivator. (Yes, I’m calling them “my” algorithms, because even though I recognize the code as uniform, the outputs are so strongly personal that they feel like mine.) They seem to be working with me, helping me find stories of people overcoming tragedy, making me feel less alone and more empowered.
In fact, I have experienced deeply and deeply the effects of an advertising-driven internet, which Ethan Zuckerman, renowned internet ethicist and professor of public policy, information and communications at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, famously called “the original sin of the Internet” in 2014 Atlantic female. In the story, he explains the revenue-generating advertising model for content sites that are best equipped to target the right audience at the right time and at scale. Of course, this requires “going deeper into the world of surveillance,” he wrote. This incentive structure is now known as “surveillance capitalism.”
Understanding exactly how to maximize individual user engagement on the platform is the revenue-generating formula, and it’s fundamental to the web’s current economic model.