2014: Dystopia

My previous post and the comment there just got me thinking. What sort of dystopia will scare the bejeesus out of me?

Full Disclosure: I may or may not be one of these.

2014

The year is 2014. The social media wave that had swept over the lovely little Subcontinent has now turned into a social media tsunami. The first generation of innocent Orkutiyas have now evolved into Facebookers and Twitteratti, a more dangerously stupid breed.

Armed with a bunch of photos They sit behind computer monitors, unleashing the virus. The contagion spreads quickly and Gullibility and Stupidity  slowly starts eating into the brains of Facebookers and Twitteratti. It is now ingrained in their DNA. Inbreeding of Orkutiyas, Facebookers and Twitteratti has created a new species: Social Media Morons. They have the characteristics of all three. Concentrated. They can see, they can read. But they can’t think. They can’t analyse. They have lost the ability to Unbelieve. When they see a photo that has been unleashed upon them by Them, they lose the ability to right click on it and select Search Google for this Image. They have forgotten how to use the easiest tool known to mankind: Google. The moment these Social Media Morons see such pictures, they can only click  on three buttons : Share. Retweet. Forward. In rare cases, they are able to exercise self control and click on safer options like Like or Favourite.

But thankfully, a few citizens of the Subcontinent have been immune to the virus. They have been able to resist Gullibility and Stupidity and their brains have developed a protective shield. These people are the Super Cynics. They know how to Google. They haven’t lost the ability to use their brains. They know how to Unbelieve.

Just last night, a Super Cynic saw this. This Super Cynic isn’t too techsavvy, so forgive photo quality.

Exhibit A:

2014-07-30 20.24.21

A normal brain, an average pre Social Media brain, would have looked at atleast the second picture and wondered if this is actually somewhere on the way to Vaishnodevi or even just a railway track. Even a pre Social Media brain sitting in the deep south of the subcontinent where there are no mountains, only sea, would wonder. And then the brain would realise that the first picture is somewhere near Goa, the Konkan Railway line. The second and third picture is from some foreign locale that may soon be seen in a Bollywood movie. And the fourth picture may be of that of the actual Vaishnodevi Railway station, the one where a certain Person recently flagged off the train. Or something. And another Person nitpicked.

But sadly, now the Social Media Morons can do just one thing: Believe. Blindly, Truly, Madly, Deeply Believe.

Exhibit B:

Guj

The key words here that would have triggered off the alarm bells in a pre Social Media brain are ‘Gujarat’  and the M word. A simple right click on the picture and selecting Search Google for this Image would have thrown up atleast 10 results that indicate that the picture was from 2005 and the Mumbai floods. Not from Gujarat or last week’s rains. But no. The keywords, the G word and the M word, have formed a numbing layer on the brain here and the person is unable to look beyond them.

And worse. The Social Media Morons who responded to this image exhibit different forms of moronism. ‘This is not a photo from Gujrat, but from Uttrakhand. Don’t make a fool of public!’.  Don’t make a fool… metametameta.

And the Super Cynics just continue to shake their heads in sad defeat and only hope that someone will find a cure and control this epidemic of Social Media Moronism.

Recommended reading: Plenty. But what’s the point?

Edit: Couldn’t help but share this. For the wellbeing of future generations.

 

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16 thoughts on “2014: Dystopia

  1. LOL – That isn’t in the future – it is now! 😀
    PS: Are you called all that, or you consider yourself that (#DRIG).

    • Now. Now. Now. Sadly this society is evolving as I type. Scares the hell out of me.
      #DRIG: I’ve been called those names, slyly, directly. Maybe I consider myself some of those. Maybe I’m proud to be some of those. Maybe I’m ashamed to be some of those. Or maybe I’m not. But visiting that site and hitting Refresh never fails to make me laugh.

  2. Leaving aside my opinion(about subjects and reviews), I definitely second @TheVisitor’s suggestion regarding letting tools of interaction be available – minimally, currently, at least the FB likes/unlikes/what-have-you’s etc. Social media is still evolving and its far, far away from a ‘complete’ product/solution(if there is something called ‘complete’..there just isn’t.. you just evolve). It’s very early days to pass a judgement. Even if it seems like it has been around for ever. What I would like to see is some sort of yard-sticking that would filter opinions. Currently it’s just 2 extreme opinions that you could have..at either ends of the spectrum. Not something I would always like to go with. In an ideal scenario, I would like a rating at a minimum to sort of quantify(cannot yet think of another option that sits in right with everything else) and allow emotions(beyond the obvious extremes) to ride across – was it liked? Ok, so it wasn’t. But why not? How much(data!)? Or, ok, so you liked it, but why and importantly(data!) how much etc etc.. Without opting for (or really arm-twisting, since no other options are available) a time-consuming comment (that beats around the bush, mostly..I speak generally, btw). Currently the best bet is..surprise..a rating system. However, deciding yardsticks comes into play here, and that’s an area for intense thought..and an even bigger issue is how to make it seamless and not long-drawn..nobody likes answering longish questionnaires and other such drawn-out avenues) that allows shading an opinion. You have to allow for opinions(great if you can go beyond like/unlike/no-comments/whatever’s). That’s democratic. Thats the way to go. (the other side of it – you are exercising your democratic right to not seek opinions). 

  3. “They have forgotten how to use the easiest tool known to mankind: Google.”

    A +/-/*///whatever for that. Possibly in that order. I have just exercised an opinion that’s primitive(so to speak…primitivity needs to be exactingly defined here)..how much better can that get besides being decided as a comment that’s open to being scrutinized, upon an extract from a larger(vaguish?) extract/text ,  and ultimately squeezed in. Does this mean I can now +/-/*///whatever the whole thought? Rather too binding, is my thought. An extract has now been judged. What sense can be made from it? What happens now? Can this little extrapolation bend the opinion that’s ultimately bunched up in the whole comment? Who decides what? Where does it all go? What happens next? Does it mean I agree fully, or do I disagree fully? Which side of the curve am I on? Do I have to side to a curve? What are my options? Are there more points on the curve?

    These little unnerving(by now, innocuous earlier) questions and how they are answered will perhaps drive the social media drivel(as you/we see some of it) to become sane(what is sane, btw?) and possibly (I stay optimistic and say, will) help improve things all around.

    • Thanks for a serious response to something that was just a rant. You give some very interesting food for thought. I’m no social media expert and I don’t study trends and such. Just a layperson’s views.

      My point (if there was one) was exactly about how these tools that allow minimal interaction are giving rise to a breed of people who are too lazy to think for themselves. As The Visitor said, say if WP had comments with the Like button. It would have given me the option to be lazy and just acknowledge your comment with a Like. Does that mean I agree? Disagree? Partially agree? Does that even mean I read the comment? I could have just clicked on that and had the satisfaction of having ‘interacted’ without actually interacting. And that is exactly what is going on on social media these days.

      In an ideal world, yes, a rating would be the best way to offer the best of both worlds : an easypeasy way of interaction and show how much you Felt. But would people actually use it? Or how would it work? What would those ratings actually imply? Will just a rating say so many words: ‘That photo of the train to Vaishnodevi gets a 1 rating because only one picture is true’ ‘Your baby is cute but I can give her 6 marks’ ‘I’m not giving any rating for this because you are stupid and deserve -100’

      But social media, IMO, is not going in that direction. Instead it is making things easier and easier and even more easier that you just have people nodding furiously in agreement and getting the satisfaction of having ‘done’ or ‘learnt’ something. 1 Like=1 Dollar. 1 Share=1 Salute. And people actually go and Like those pictures and feel good about themselves? It is this sort of brain numbing at the ‘safe’ ‘harmless’ levels that start with African kids or disfigured beggars that leads the same level of stupidity and laziness when it comes to Believing more dangerous things. And this is why this trend of making people lazy should stop. Makes me so angry. So so angry.

      Force people to Think. Don’t make things easier for them. Force out real words from them. Encourage actual comments, not just copypasting memes. Call out nonsense immediately.

      I think Reddit is one social media platform handles things really well. I don’t see much laziness or stupidity there. They have really good rules, categories and moderators. The quality of interaction is so much better there and misleading information is pulled up and caught immediately.

  4. @Arun – I’ve seen some posts that allow annotation (in situ) of a part of the post, where the comment can be read alongside the actual content, quite similar to the “quote” facility – this can be used for rating too. This gives context for the rating.

    Then there are the standard disclaimers, popular among twitterati, “retweeting does not mean endorsement”.

    Social media has taken social interaction to a new level, where methods of interaction and assessment of public opinion are still evolving. And thanks for your comment, it has opened up, for me, an entirely new perspective on social media.

    However this post, I guess, was meant in a light vein regarding the unthinking responses of the users.

    • Yes. Social media is still evolving. There is a long way to go. But my only fear is that it is not going in the right direction and it shouldn’t be too late before it realises it

    • I’ve seen some posts that allow annotation (in situ) of a part of the post, where the comment can be read alongside the actual content, quite similar to the “quote” facility – this can be used for rating too. This gives context for the rating.

      Yes, that’s definitely contextual and allows for more than just straightforward yes/no’s.

  5. @bookstoryblog, @TheVisitor:

    …response to something that was just a rant…

    …this post, I guess, was meant in a light vein regarding the unthinking responses of the users…

    🙂 rant, and in a lighter vein … I may have to disagree there…the post does reveal the rather ugly underbelly and the mistaken misuse of what is otherwise a very useful platform to exchange or perpetrate views and opinions. As you would expect from an actual physically present audience with no clampdowns or restrictions on using the information they just received as they pleased, relying on better judgement from their end before any action is performed on it.

  6. All in all, a rather much-needed post on what is actually happening in reality. I guess educating is the best all-encompassing solution – similar to anti piracy laws that are being discussed or rolled out/setup in the US, UK etc(misuse of the Internet medium – specifically wrt piracy – will either gradually cluster you into a database of known offenders with – and this is being actively  debated – a possibilty of some sort of retributive action like progressive restriction to Internet usage and access or being recipients of official letters advising and educating that such activities are not the way to go).

    • That’s a sort of thing I will totally support. Anyone reported for spreading misleading information, however harmless, should be blacklisted in some sort of way and banned from the internet itself. (Now *that’s* another kind of dystopian society :P) But time to clean up the internet. Keep it clever, keep it classy..

      • That’s a sort of thing I will totally support.

        Eh? Who are you? I don’t know you.
        PS: I rather have a system where it requires “effort” to spread any information (misleading or otherwise) than to penalize “innocents”.

        Yesterday, there was this FB post with the photo of a cute little girl with the message, “Missing from today 11.00 am” and asking you to share the post. This was shared by a cousin of mine. Now the instinctive response is to hit on the Share button, with good intentions. Out of curiosity, I just looked at when the original post and photo had been posted, to verify if the girl had been found or not. To cut a long story short I found that no such person was reported missing as per the timeline of the person who’d posted the original photo. So sometimes innocents do get taken for a ride, out of their desire to be helpful.

      • Good that you checked. I never share these missing persons pictures ever. My rule: Ask yourself, will you be able to remember that face even two seconds after you’ve logged out? No. Even if you do, and manage to actually spot that person, will you go up and verify? Like, if you see a ‘missing’ child with someone, will you go up and confront them? Inform the cops? Dig up the post from FB and call the contact number? Well, I’m certain I won’t. On the other hand,if I see a child looking lost or alone, I would certainly help whether or not I’ve seen the picture on FB. So here again, think before you hit share.
        Recently, pictures of those 4 missing ad execs from Pune were being shared on Twitter, well intentioned and true. Sadly, a couple of days later, it was confirmed that they had drowned. But their photos were still doing the rounds as ‘missing persons’ even a week later which was horrible and insensitive.
        On the other hand, I also believe in the power of the internet in helping find missing persons. It has been 7 years, but I’m still hopeful that Madeline McCann will be found someday.

      • Whatever the solution is, i guess we may just need to ensure that we don’t throw the baby out along with the bath water 🙂

  7. Couldn’t help but share this. For the wellbeing of future generations.

    🙂 Every era has its good samaritans.

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