In the midst of this Covid-19 pandemic that we all must suffer through together, why is it that media outlets, professional athletes, and celebrities all seem to be shoving their opinions in the faces of the public more than ever before? Why do American citizens seem to be okay with accepting this seemingly endless stream of disinformation and plethora of baseless claims that contradict everything we know to be true? Though I am not a psychologist and have no right and no qualifications to accurately answer these questions, I feel obligated to make a few speculations on behalf of those that have some of the same questions and are struggling to accept the fact that social media has facilitated the decline of personal privacy. While it began as a rather innocent and efficient way to stay in contact with people around the globe, the development of social media platforms has very heavily contributed to the introduction of new social norms and a growing concern over the absence of personal privacy.
It should come as no surprise that the prevalence of online platforms that collect and display personal information has created a demand for this information by a number of corporations intent on utilizing the information to determine purchasing patterns of consumers in an effort to expand their ability to predict future purchases. With online shopping platforms like Amazon and Google who keep records of your past purchases and search history, it becomes difficult to avoid the recommendations that these companies make because their software often allows them to learn more about our habits than we can even comprehend. Granted, this development does make shopping and browsing the internet much more efficient for those that have no qualms with their personal information being bought and sold as they benefit from it as much as the companies exchanging this info. However, for many older members of the population who grew up without any of these perceived conveniences (71% according to the 2019 U.S. census), this raises serious concerns. Out of this vast majority of the population nearly 6 out of 10 adults feel that it is almost impossible to get through a day without having data collected about them (Pew Research Center). Despite many products and services being marketed by revealing the time and money that could be saved through the use of collected personal information, many Americans still feel that this is a massive invasion of their privacy and feel helpless in stopping it. Younger members of the American population might say that if you don’t like it then don’t use the internet, but none of us are naïve enough to think that this is even a possibility in today’s technology-driven world.
I will be the first to admit that technology and even social media can grant us access to some pretty amazing tools to navigate through our exceedingly fast-paced society, but I also acknowledge the immense potential for the misuse of the information gathered online. Additionally, this information really has no standard for validity and is often misconstrued by a majority of those who have access to it because there is no accurate way to convey subtleties like facial expressions or body language that one would otherwise be able to observe during a physical interaction. Yes, emojis can sometimes get your point across in a more accurate way but are still greatly lacking as the number of expressible human emotions far exceeds the amount of emojis currently available. Thoughts?
By: Gavin Greek